Is Angela Merkel a beacon of hope for Germany’s Jewish community?
Three weeks ago, on the eve of Yom Kippur, Germany was shocked by a terrible crime: an armed terrorist attacked a synagogue in Halle.
People died; the Jewish cemetery was blown up; the synagogue itself was almost destroyed. The German law enforcement authorities took unprecedented measures to catch a terrorist. All stations of the region were blocked; residents were asked not to leave their homes.
The culprit was caught within several hours.
The German authorities acted decisively and quickly. In addition to capturing the criminal, the government immediately started developing a series of decrees that would provide more severe punishments for hate speeches and hate crimes.
Earlier this week, Angela Merkel was honored with the Theodor Herzl Award by the World Jewish Congress. The Congress gives this award annually, honoring outstanding personalities who strive to advance Herzl’s ideals and make the world safer and more tolerant for Jews.
As Chancellor Merkel correctly noted, events like the Halle synagogue shooting are directed not only against the Jews. Terrorists attack everything that modern civilization stands for: our values and our freedoms. People should not be afraid for their lives because of religious faith. We must do everything in our power for them to be able to live freely and safely.
Presenting the award, Ronald S. Lauder, World Jewish Congress President, emphasized the progress that Germany has made in eradicating its dark past. And it is Chancellor Merkel that is the symbol of this incredible success.
“I consider this award, which bears the name of Theodor Herzl, an obligation never to be satisfied with what has been achieved, but to continue to strive for a better future together with our partners,” said Chancellor Merkel. The World Jewish Congress and the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine is grateful to the Chancellor for her partnership.
By Boris Lozhkin
Find out more about me and the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine here.