(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
President Rivlin will leave for a three-day state visit to Germany on Sunday night as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations to commemorate diplomatic ties between Germany and Israel.
On May 12, the actual date of the jubilee, Rivlin and German President Joachim Gauck will participate in a meeting of the Jewish National Fund sponsored German-Israeli Future Forum Foundation, and learn about plans to preserve and strengthen bilateral relations in light of evolving relations between the two countries.
The meeting will be conducted by the joint heads of the foundation Michael Jensen and Michael Federmann. The Federmann family, which is of German background, has long been involved with enhancing relations between Israel and Germany, and both Federmann and his late father, Yekutiel, have been recognized by the German government for their efforts.
Rivlin’s visit officially will begin on Monday, when he will be received by Gauck at the Presidential Palace. In the evening, he will be the guest of honor at a state dinner hosted by Gauck.
In the course of his visit, Rivlin will meet with Berlin Mayor Michael Müller; young Israelis and Germans who are engaged in partnership projects in various fields of arts and culture under the umbrella of a joint Youth Congress; Chancellor Angela Merkel; Speaker of the Bundestag Prof. Norbert Lammert; and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Before returning to Israel, Rivlin also will meet with Schleswig-Holstein Minister-President Torsten Albig and Dr. Lutz Kipp, the president of the University of Kiel.
While Rivlin will come into contact with Israelis permanently or temporarily resident in Germany, there is no mention in his itinerary of any meetings with Jewish community leaders or the German-Jewish community per se, although he is scheduled to lay a wreath at the memorial site on the location of the train station from which the Jews of Berlin were sent to Auschwitz.
“My visit to Germany is, for me, both emotional and deeply significant,” Rivlin said in a statement issued by his office. “Together with the people of Germany, we will mark a long journey; a journey which has brought us from the unforgettable horrors of the past to the shared values of the present and, with cooperation and friendship, will lead us to a promising future. I have no doubt that my meetings with the German president, chancellor and senior government officials will help deepen the cooperation between our two peoples and governments.
“It is important to remember that our friendship is in no way compensation for the Holocaust, it is built on a basis of shared values after Germany accepted upon itself responsibility for that dark period. Today, we are thriving, with the values of democracy and freedom of expression, having been able to learn the lessons of the past.”