German Foreign Minister receives Buber-Rosenzweig Medal
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has been awarded the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal by the German Coordinating Council of Societies for Christian-Jewish Cooperation (Deutscher Koordinierungsrat der Gesellschaften für Christlich-Jüdische Zusammenarbeit). The Medal is given to individuals, initiatives, and institutions that have helped to promote understanding between ethnic and religious groups or have made special contributions to Christian-Jewish cooperation. Previous recipients of the award, which has been given annually since 1968, include Isaac Bashevis Singer, Yehudi Menuhin, Lea Rabin and Richard von Weizäcker.
The award to Foreign Minister Fischer was presented on March 9, 2003, at ceremonies in Münster marking the opening of this year?s Woche der Brüderlichkeit (Brotherhood Week), which is sponsored by the 79 member societies of the Coordinating Council. The citation was presented by Paul Spiegel, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. "Joschka Fischer," he said, "is a German who has convincingly succeeded in drawing lessons from the terrible past of this country." In acting to further the peaceful coexistence of religions, Fischer "sets standards for relations between Jewish and non-Jewish Germans, between Germans and Israelis," said Spiegel.
In his acceptance speech, Fischer reviewed the troubled history of Christian-Jewish relations in Germany and paid tribute to the contributions of Jewish intellectuals like Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig to German culture. "Today," he said, "despite all its shortcomings that it must put right, Germany is an open country, a democracy integrated into Europe. . . . Having said that, what a wonderful country our Germany would be, how much richer and more impressive, had Albert Einstein and Martin Buber been respected and able to carry on their research at German universities."
Touching on the situation in the Middle East, Fischer pledged that "I will continue to make every effort to prevent terror and violence from prevailing, to ensure Israel?s lasting security and also that the suffering of the Palestinians will be ended and that they will be able to realize their legitimate demand for their own state, peacefully coexisting with Israel."