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by MONITOR
THREATS from Israeli parliamentarians to boycott and protest against a speech in the Knesset by Chancellor Merkel of Germany next week make depressing reading. The opposition is not to the person of Angela Merkel or to the country she represents but to the German language which she will use. Since she is not a linguist, Chancellor Merkel sought and was given permission from the Knesset authorities to speak in German, following a precedent established by President Rau of Germany in 2000. The leader of those objecting to the concession, Arieh Elhad, who lost two grandparents in the Holocaust, said, “The execution orders were given in German... it was the last language they heard before they were murdered.” It is on this same principle that the music of Richard Wagner is effectively banned in Israel; attempts by the Jewish conductor Daniel Barenboim, to conduct his Berlin orchestra in Wagner during a visIt to Israel led to protests. One has to wonder how long these embargos will last. Will the great grandchildren and great-great grandchilden of Arieh Ehad's forebears have to put their hands over their ears when they hear the poems of Goethe read or the music of Wagner played? While it is true that Germany had much to atone for in its behaviour in the Second World War, it is also true that in the last 60 years it has worked consistently to acknowledge what it did wrong and to make amends.