Jerusalem, 6 June 1995


(Communicated by Prime Minister’s Media Advisor)

The following is Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s speech at the dinner in honor of visiting German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Tuesday, June 6, 1995:

Mr. Chancellor, Members of the German delegation, President of the Supreme Court, Speaker of the Knesset, My Colleagues, the Government ministers, Honored guests,

It is a great honor for us to host you in our home this evening in Jerusalem. Jerusalem will soon be celebrating its 3000th anniversary. Jerusalem, which was, and will always be, the heart of the Jewish people, to which we turn in our prayers, of whose gates we dream of entering from every corner of the world.

Mr. Chancellor, honored guests,

Every visit of a German Chancellor to Israel until now has been, as far as we are concerned and I am sure that also as far as you are concerned a visit highly charged with bitter memories of the past, with pain which will never be soothed.

Mr. Chancellor,

Your visit to Israel is taking place as the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II and the victory over Nazism that terrible racist doctrine which millions believed in, and which they turned into a license for genocide. We, the Jewish people, the victims of the Nazi death machine, cannot forget, and we will bear the pain of the Holocaust until the last generation yet our faces are turned toward the future. We must build a state here, a nation, to establish peace and give our children and grandchildren fulfilling and stable lives. We have had enough of bloodshed, sorrow, pain.

Yet when we look toward the horizon, toward the future, toward the coming years, we Israelis as well as Germans have a reason to worry, both within Europe and beyond.

Outside of Europe, but on its borders, the extremist fundamentalist threat originating in Iran is growing stronger and stronger and it threatens peace in the Middle East, and therefore peace in Europe and in the Free World.

Within Europe, including your own country, and without comparing it to the first threat, a new wave of fascism and neo-Nazism is arising, severe and deadly diseases which we had thought had disappeared from the world. Your country, Your Excellency, has a central role in working to stop the spread of extreme fundamentalism which shows no mercy on the way to its target and your country plays a central role in eradicating neo-Nazism and fascism.

Part of the fight against extremist elements depends on a basic standard of living and is connected to it. Poverty is the source of extremism and Germany today in its central role within the economy of Europe has the tools to bring peace to the world. We are sure you will do your best.

We here, from our home in Israel, follow with amazement the reunification of your country. The walls which you have broken down, the barbed wire fences which you have ripped up, the minefields which you have cleared, are shining examples to us of what might happen, and what should happen in our region as well, here in the Middle East: we are aware of the mounting difficulties which you face on the road to complete unity and sincerely hope that you will overcome them. We hope that we ourselves will follow this path and bring peace and an end to war in this region, even as the Cold War ended strife and tension in yours.

You, Mr. Chancellor, are one of the senior partners in the efforts to end the Cold War, and as Jews and Israelis, as people dreaming of peace, we congratulate you and your nation on this achievement.

Mr. Chancellor,

Special relations have existed between Jerusalem and Bonn for thirty years, and even if these relations had their ups and downs, we always knew that we had someone in Europe to turn to, whether with praise or complaints. The few problems we had, mostly relating to issues arising out of the agreements of European unity, you heard today during the working session. Here this evening, we will devote the remaining time to thanks and praise:

This is an opportunity for me, in the name of the Government and citizens of the entire state, to thank you and your Government and people for the political support, the economic aid, the legislative initiative prohibiting denial of the Holocaust, help in the peace process with Jordan, for your personal role and the role of Germany in the phrasing of the Essen Declaration, help in the attempt to discover the fate of IDF prisoners and MIAs, the fruitful and regular dialogue between our two states, for the special relationship.

Mr. Chancellor,

Your visit to our home takes place at an historic moment yesterday you came with King Hussein from Jordan, and tomorrow you will meet with the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority. And all this was impossible, all this was a dream, only a year or two ago. This is a dramatic period. Peace is at the gate, and we are aware that because of its urgency and necessity, its arrival comes none too soon. Your country too has contributed to the establishing of peace and its advancement and for that, please accept the gratitude of every Israeli child, the child for whom we are making peace.

Mr. Chancellor, delegation members,

Jerusalem welcomes you from the bottom of her heart.