As part of his official visit to Germany, Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein on Wednesday opened an exhibit at the Bundestag featuring the works of Israeli artists. Edelstein thanked the German parliament ”for this special initiative and for this gesture” and said the display of Israeli artworks in the Bundestag is ”an expression of the tight connection between Israel and Germany” and is ”particularly appropriate for the events marking 50 years since the establishment of relations between our countries.”

The exhibit, titled ”Not a Distant Land” will be on display in the Bundestag in the coming weeks as part of the events marking 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany. The works of art were selected and purchased by the Bundestag`s Art Council for the German parliament`s collection. The exhibit features photos, paintings and sculptures by Boaz Aharonovitch, Orit Hofshi, Sigalit Landau, Ilit Azoulay, Erez Israeli, Hila Ben-Ari, Susan Hiller, Micha Ullman and Christian Boltanski.

Speaker Edelstein noted that German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ”acknowledged the special value of art as a bridging element and said `Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality`. He also wrote `He who possesses art and science has religion`. Art is not a luxury – it has an important part in the life of the individual and the general public, as a shaper of moods and as an expression of them.”

The Knesset speaker continued to say that ”there are many models of relations in the bilateral international arena: We are familiar with `warm` neighborly relations, close or full, but there are also concrete, partial and specific relations. The case of Israel and Germany is a very special one. Out of a dark and difficult past, our leaders, nations and citizens succeeded over the years in developing prosperous relations in every field imaginable, from security and technology, to tourism and art – as we are witnessing here today as well.”

”These paintings are an important part of the reality which we, both nations, are painting and building together with hard work,” said the Knesset speaker. ”By doing so, we are also retrieving to the art its due status, after the Nazi regime used it in the most cynical and terrible way.”