BERLIN (AP) – Lamenting rising anti-Semitism in Europe, Israel’s president said Germany â€œmust not failâ€ in fighting it as he addressed German lawmakers Wednesday to mark the 75th anniversary of the Auschwitz death camp’s liberation.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s address to parliament capped a three-day visit to Germany that started when he flew to Berlin from anniversary events at the Auschwitz site on Monday with German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Rivlin, who recalled protesting when West Germany sent its first ambassador to Israel in 1959, praised today’s Germany as â€œa beacon for democracy, for liberalism, for responsibility and moderate forces.â€ He said that gives Germany â€œenormousâ€ responsibility at a time when there are â€œother trendsâ€ in Europe and elsewhere.
â€œToday, Europe is being haunted by the ghosts of the past – racial purity, nationalism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism,â€ said Rivlin, who spoke through an interpreter. â€œUgly and extreme anti-Semitism is wafting over all of Europe, from the far-right to extreme left-wingers.â€
â€œIt is important to me to bear in mind that we are certainly not in the 1930s – we are not on the threshold of a new Shoah, and we are not even close to that,â€ he said. But, he said, the stirring of anti-Semitism and xenophobia must not be ignored.
Rising concern in Germany about anti-Semitism was intensified by an incident in October in which a man tried to force his way into a synagogue in Halle on Judaism’s holiest day, then killed two passers-by before being arrested. The suspect posted an anti-Jewish screed before the attack.
On Sunday, Germany’s foreign minister called for stepped-up efforts to ward off the possibility that many Jews could decide to leave the country.
Rivlin said the fight against anti-Semitism must be fought â€œpersistently, generation for generation.â€
â€œWe must not give up,â€ he said. â€œWe must not ease off. Germany must not fail here.â€
Germany â€œhas taken responsibility for the protection of international liberal values,â€ Rivlin added. â€œIf this attempt fails in Germany … it will be condemned to fail everywhere.â€
In his speech, Rivlin also acknowledged differences over Iran. Germany is one of the countries trying to keep alive Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers that the U.S. abandoned in 2018.
â€œSuch a regime is a risk to world peace,â€ he said. â€œThere is only possibility: we must isolate this regime.â€
Rivlin also addressed the newly released U.S. plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has already been rejected by the Palestinians. He said both sides must examine the plan carefully and he hopes it will be implemented.
â€œWe must not give up,â€ he said.