On 23 October German Ambassador to Israel Andreas Michaelis and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin jointly launched the year of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, against the backdrop of the festivities for the Day of German Unity at the Ambassador’s residence in Herzlia.
In his speech Ambassador Michaelis emphasised that the unique relationship between the two countries had acquired a new quality. With regard to the situation in the Middle East he clearly stated that the cycle of violence had to be broken. He said that Israel needed stability and freedom, and that Germany was committed to this goal. He expressed his belief that the political reality in the region could be changed: “The increasingly difficult situation cannot be allowed to provide any justification for withdrawing from diplomatic endeavours. On the contrary, now in particular we must intensify our efforts.” With reference to the fall of the Berlin Wall almost 25 years ago, he said that the events leading up to German reunification and the European Union clearly showed that it was possible to work to achieve success even if massive hurdles had to be overcome in the process.
50 years of diplomatic relations
President Rivlin also referred to the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago in his address, saying that the reunification of Germany was a defining factor for the Federal Republic and also had vast significance for the whole of the free world. He declared that Germany and Israel were linked not only by excellent relations but even more by friendship. He conceded that this had not always been the case, citing himself, Rivlin, as evidence of this: He explained that as a student he had protested against the appointment of the first German Ambassador to Israel, former Wehrmacht officer Rolf Friedemann Pauls. Yet nearly 50 years later he was speaking as President of the State of Israel at the residence of the German Ambassador on the occasion of Germany’s national holiday. He closed his speech with the words, “God bless Germany”.
This is a special anniversary for both countries. They commenced their relations against the dark background of the Shoah, but these have developed into a success story that initially few would have considered possible.
A success story and a friendship
The website for the anniversary year is available in three languages – German, Hebrew and English. From 2015 the website will constantly be updated with the latest information, features, videos and links about the anniversary year.
An interactive diary of events provides information on what is planned. The website also includes a timeline and interesting background information on the bilateral relations.
Planned events include music, dance, theatre, film and literature festivals, trade fairs and conferences as well as numerous youth projects and meetings at official and civil society level in both countries.