Herzog and Steinmeier at dinner in Berlin
Herzog and Steinmeier at dinner in BerlinAmos Ben-Gershom/GPO

President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog attended a state dinner on Sunday night, hosted by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in honor of the President’s state visit, at the Schloss Bellevue presidential palace in Berlin.

At the start of the dinner, President Herzog and President Steinmeier delivered toasts, after which the guests were treated to diverse dishes and enjoyed a selection of musical performances.

President Isaac Herzog began his toast by saying: “My wife Michal and I thank you for the honor and privilege of being here with you in the capital of Germany, one of the State of Israel’s closest and greatest friends. I am always moved by the weight of history here in the heart of Berlin, especially today, as a Jewish and Israeli leader, a guest of the German head of state. As I said in our meeting a few hours ago, the scars of history do not disappear, but rather shape and build us. We are working on behalf of the past, for the sake of the future.”

President Herzog turned to his German counterpart and said: “Mr. President, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for our many years of companionship and for your true friendship with the State of Israel and the Jewish People. My wife Michal and I consider you and your wife personal friends and true friends of the State of Israel, the citizens of Israel, and the Jewish People. You have led in the past and continue to lead the strong alliance between Germany and Israel, an alliance that acknowledges the past and is committed to commemorating it and learning its lessons, while at the same time aspiring toward and advancing a future of hope, amends, and growth, for us and for the young generations in both countries.”

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier: “A visit by a President of Israel to Germany is always something special, especially when it is a state visit. It is a pleasure and an honor to welcome you. But if I may be entirely honest, just one week ago I could not dare to hope that we would sit here together tonight so happily and at ease. The relationship between Germany and Israel, this unique friendship, will always require two elements: shared hopes and shared memories—shared opportunities, ambitions for future projects, and a shared look at the past, engaging with it responsibly.

“We all know that closer relations between our states are no simple matter. But things could have been different, considering the awful crimes committed by the Germans. Who could have imagined back then what a profound friendship would develop? We Germans bear the duty to remember; my country bears responsibility for crimes against humanity during the Holocaust, responsibility that will never pass. The memory of what happened and what might happen must serve as a warning sign for us, for the present and the future. So that nothing like that ever recurs. Never again! Our democracy, the Federal Republic of Germany, is based on this commitment.”

President Herzog and the First Lady departed on Sunday morning for a state visit to the Federal Republic of Germany.

In Germany, the President and the First Lady will participate in the 50th anniversary memorial for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, together with the victims’ families.