-- Translation of advance text --
Mr Seligmann, Mr Herkenhoff, Mr Smith, Ladies and gentlemen,
I am truly delighted to be here today for the launch of the first issue of “Jewish Voice from Germany”. I had the privilege of looking at the very first copy hot off the presses, and I can personally confirm what a great success this new newspaper is.
“Jewish Voice from Germany” reflects the resurgence of Jewish life in Germany as an integral part of our society, a development which was anything but a matter of course for many decades after the unparalleled negation of civilization that was the Shoah. This resurgence gives us cause for joy and gratitude.
The roughly 110 Jewish congregations throughout Germany have about 100,000 active members in total. Seventy years after the Shoah, rabbis are being ordained and synagogues built in Germany. Jewish children are attending Jewish preschools and schools – often together with children of other faiths. Germany’s Jewish communities are among the most vibrant in the world.
The German Government is also playing its part in this. As of this year, we are doubling our funding for the Central Council of Jews in Germany to 10 million euro per year.
The late Paul Spiegel spoke of a “renaissance” of Jewish life in Germany. His description was very apt. German Judaism and Judaism in Germany are an inextricable part not only of our history, but also of our future.
An open and tolerant society is also a part of this future. Germany depends on diversity and freedom; it is home to people of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. Our country is enriched by the diversity of religious faiths and worldviews just as it is enriched by the different traditions, backgrounds and native languages of our communities.
That is why I am sending a loud and clear message that anti Semitism and racism must never again gain a foothold in Germany in any form! We must and shall do everything within our power to stop any attempt to disrupt the peaceful co existence of people of different backgrounds in Germany. The terrible murders of members of our immigrant communities by the self-styled “Nazi underground” terrorists need to be fully investigated and punished.
Even though the state needs to take decisive action here, I am encouraged to see so many young people in particular taking an active stand against intolerance and in favour of mutual respect in Germany.
More than just introspection is important, however: Germany’s historical responsibility towards the Israeli people is and shall remain a cornerstone of our foreign policy. Out of that responsibility for the past, we derive an obligation for the future. That is why we continue to expand the close network of understanding and friendship that has grown between the two countries – for example, through the German-Israeli Future Forum.
And the broad-ranging ties between people in the two countries also reflect the vitality of German-Israeli friendship: thousands of Germans volunteer in Israel, for example, and Israelis now volunteer in Germany as well.
As Israel’s friend we will continue to help work towards a just and comprehensive two-state solution to the Middle East conflict, because we are convinced that this is the only way to achieve a lasting and peaceful balance between Israel and the Palestinians.
I hope that “Jewish Voice from Germany” will speak with a genuine Jewish voice from Germany. I also hope that it will be rich in insight into Jewish life in Germany and engaging perspectives on Jewish life around the world, and above all I wish it a large readership.
Thank you very much.