President Shimon Peres welcomes his German counterpart Joachim Gauck to Israel Tuesday morning, and they toured Yad VaShem in the morning.
In the official welcome ceremony, the two leaders discussed strengthening the ties between Israel and Germany. The visit to Yad VaShem fills out the rest of the morning, and a state dinner n the evening at the President’s official residence will include business, diplomatic and cultural leaders.
Behind the photo ops, there is the festering matter of anti-Semitism, aggravated by recent statements in Günter Grass’ controversial poem that harshly criticized Israel vis-à-vis Iran on the issue of nuclear arms. He portrayed Israel as the aggressor.
Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Yaakov Hadas-Handelsman, was quoted as saying in the Die Welt newspaper as saying, “Anti-Semitism is more present in Europe. We see it unfortunately nearly every day. Also in Germany this phenomenon is rising and becoming more widespread.”
Gauck’s visit to Israel is important because Gauck is from the former German Democratic Republic and personally experienced persecution and repression, the European Jewish Press reported.
His office said he wanted to “put down a marker of solidarity with Israel in difficult times” while continuing support for establishing the Palestinian Authority as an independent country within Israel’s borders."
After his two-day visit with Israeli leaders, Gauck will meet with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah.