If you're feeling cynical about race relations just now, the magnitude and symbolism of the following might help you to feel better.
Yesterday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed Israel’s Knesset.
Expectations were high for the first-ever speech given by a chancellor before the Knesset. On Tuesday, Angela Merkel found the right tone, but she also carefully avoided any criticism of the Israelis' Middle East policies in her bid to deepen German-Israeli ties.If these two groups of humans can reconcile, then any two can—hopefully long before something as unthinkable as any holocaust occurs.
Angela Merkel had prepared long in advance, and she had carefully considered the move. "Madam President, thank you for allowing me to speak here today," the German chancellor read, in slightly awkward Hebrew, at 5:20 p.m. in Jerusalem's Knesset. "It is a great honor for me."
Then she reverted to German and began by expressing her appreciation for being allowed to address the Israeli parliament. The historic moment, which had triggered relatively minor debate in Israel in the days leading up to the event, had finally arrived. A German head of government was speaking before the Knesset -- in German, the "language of the murderers," as critics had noted.
But in the end only a handful of parliamentarians stayed away, because they perceived Merkel's appearance as "insensitive." The vast majority of the Israeli parliament, though, listened attentively and, after a final "Shalom!" gave the chancellor a standing ovation. [SNIP]
After recognizing the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, Merkel launched into an extensive discussion of Germany's past. "The Shoah is a source of great shame to Germans. I bow to the victims. I bow to the survivors and to all those who helped them survive," said the chancellor, who characterized the "fracture of civilization by the Shoah" as unprecedented. With a view to her own origins, she told her audience that she had spent the first 35 years of her life in East Germany, where Nazism had been viewed as a purely West German problem. It took 40 years, Merkel said, for all of Germany to own up to its responsibility to the State of Israel.
(Thanks to Ed Morrissey)