German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to speak before the Israeli Knesset to underscore her country’s strong ties with Israel, but at least one aspect of her visit is already causing controversy. Merkel will address the Israeli parliament in German.

It won’t be the first time a German official has addressed the Israeli government using what one lawmaker called “the last language my grandmother and grandfather heard before they were murdered.”

A spokesman for the speaker of the Knesset downplayed the controversy: “She is a very important European and world leader, and a great friend of Israel, and she asked to speak in German.”


AP via Google:

Knesset bylaws allow only heads of state to address the parliament. A parliamentary committee on Tuesday gave Merkel special dispensation to address lawmakers, said Ilan Ostfeld, a spokesman for Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik. At Merkel’s request, she will speak in her native language.

“She is a very important European and world leader, and a great friend of Israel, and she asked to speak in German,” Ostfeld said.

The chancellor’s spokesman, Ulrich Wilhelm, told reporters in Berlin that Merkel “has on various occasions expressed understanding for the particular sensitivity that there is in Israel on this question.”

However, she “also asks for understanding that she, as a representative of the German government and the German chancellor, speaks in her mother tongue, in German,” Wilhelm said.

Read more

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface.  We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig