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Prize honoring Peres legacy granted by German foreign ministry

Ceremony to honor the first recipients of a prize in honor of Israel's ninth president Shimon Peres, awarded by Germany's foreign ministry
Polina Garaev
Prize awarded to those who made an outstanding contribution to the friendship between Germany and Israel

A German-Israeli exchange program aiding refugees and a joint research project into the benefits of dance for Parkinson's patients are the first recipients of a prize in honor of Israel's ninth president Shimon Peres, awarded by Germany's foreign ministry.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced in May during his visit to Israel, that the 10,000 euro prize would be awarded annually starting from this year, to individuals or organizations that have made an outstanding contribution to the friendship between the two countries, thus continuing the legacy of the late president.

Speakers at the ceremony, including Peres's daughter Prof. Tsvia Walden and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel that presented the award, recalled how controversial this relationship seemed at the beginning.

In her speech, Walden spoke about the protests that took place outside her home whenever her father met with German dignitaries, “but I was proud of the democratic state that is able to both contain the different opinions and to still move forward,” she added.

Polina Garaev

She also spoke about the significance of Peres' address before the German Bundestag in 2010, “the only he read his speech from a page word for word,” she noted. “He thought deeply of what he wanted to say and every word was important to him.”

Gabriel also applauded Peres' courage when striving to establish ties between Germany and Israel. “Despite everything, all the horrors of the Holocaust, Shimon Peres was a friend of this country, he worked towards reconciliation, and for that we are forever grateful.”

Gabriel also addressed his public row with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his meeting with the controversial left wing NGO Breaking the Silence when visiting Israel in April.

Although stressing that he does not regret his actions, “I suspected that people applauded me for what I did because of their own agenda,” he alluded to the reaction of Israeli critics. “One needs to be careful not to give the wrong people opportunities to applaud.”

Jokingly, Gabriel also remarked that the recently-appointed Israel's Ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, did not forbid him from meeting with his son, Dean Issacharoff, who is the spokesperson for Breaking the Silence.

Members of the German-Israeli jury chose to bestow the honor upon the joint project by Berlin's Hum Migration network and the Israeli organization Microfy working in southern Tel Aviv. The exchange of professionals between the two groups focused on ways to promote social and economical integration of refugees in both countries.

Polina Garaev

Another winner was the project Störung (“disorder” in German) by German Monica Gillette and Israeli Yasmeen Godder's troupe, which incorporated German and Israeli experts from the fields of medicine, engineering, theater and dance in a two-years-long study of the effect of movement and contemporary dance on people with Parkinson's.

The prizes were awarded in cooperation with the German-Israeli Future Forum Foundation. “German-Israeli relations will depend in the future on the degree of focus on joint interests of the two countries and the ability to stimulate a new generation of young adults from different fields to pursue German-Israeli dialog,” wrote the organizers.

“The two projects selected for the prize are excellent examples of a successful exchange of leaders and professionals from Israel and Germany.”

Polina Garaev is the i24NEWS correspondent in Germany.

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