German, Israeli youth discuss anti-Semitism

Memorial ceremony in Jerusalem to discuss modern-day implications of Holocaust denial.

German and Israeli youth are meeting in Jerusalem Thursday to discuss the historical and modern day implications of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial at a ceremony to honor the memory of former German president Johannes Rau. Rau, who served as president from 1999-2004, became the first German head of state to speak to the Knesset when he addressed the assembly in German, causing several MKs to walk out in protest. Rau, who died January 27, 2006, fought strongly against anti-Semitism and worked to improve relations between Germany and Israel in and outside of the political arena. The memorial will celebrate how far relations between the two countries have progressed and address "how we remember the Holocaust and fight the new anti-Semitism taking place in Europe," said a spokesman for Friedrich Ebert, one of the organizations sponsoring the event alongside the Jerusalem Foundation. "It will be a good opportunity to have a meeting with my counterparts from Germany," said Nimrod Goren, a participant in the dialogue. "I would like to see a bit more openness and hopefully we can have some exchange in the future." Goren, a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, expressed interest in "how the Germans view the anti-Semitism that is going on in Europe as well as in their own country." A German study released February 11 and reported on by The Jerusalem Post found that German youth today were less prone to anti-Semitic feelings compared to the previous generation of Germans. The study also found that 78 percent of Israelis felt their opinion of Germans was affected by the Holocaust. "The relationship between Germany and Israel is a special one," said a spokesman for Friedrich Ebert, "and we would like to know the younger generation's view on this." At the conclusion of the dialogue, both Germans and Israelis will join together in an ending ceremony. Peter Struck, a member of Rau's Socialist Democrat party and Germany's minister of defense from 2002-2005, will speak about Rau's legacy and Germany's outlook on the Middle East.