German chancellor Angela Merkel has been awarded the Leo Baeck medal for her work in German-Jewish reconciliation. She accepted the honor at a ceremony in New York on Tuesday.
Merkel said the state of Israel will never be negotiable for Germany
The influential Leo Baeck Institute presented a medal to Merkel in New York on Tuesday, its first ever award for a presiding head of state in Germany.
At the award ceremony, the president of the Jewish Museum in Berlin praised Merkel for her support of Jewish cultural life and the integration of minorities in Germany. Michael Blumenthal also saluted Merkel's condemnation of a controversial book by a top German central bank executive.
Merkel has rebuked Thilo Sarrazin for his comments about immigrants reducing the value of Germany's "gene pool." Sarrazin was later forced to step down from his post in the central bank.
Merkel thanked the institute for the honor
The chancellor said the medal was an inspiration for continuing the work of integration and cooperation with the Jewish community.
Baeck survived the Theresienstadt concentration camp
"That work, unfortunately, entails going against the anti-Semitism that crops up on a regular basis," she said.
She added that Germany was prepared to use its leverage to support peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. She met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in New York on Tuesday, and spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone last week.
Merkel also urged Iran to clear up any doubts about its nuclear program, and to stop threatening Israel.
"Iran must know that the existence of the state of Israel will never be negotiable for Germany."
The institute was founded by rabbi and scholar Leo Baeck in 1947 to study the history of German-speaking Jews.
Author: Joanna Impey (AP/dpa/Reuters)
Editor: Andreas Illmer