German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, popular in Israel for her unwavering support for the Jewish nation, received an honorary doctorate from the Technion in Jerusalem on October 10 during her farewell visit to Israel. Chancellor Merkel will not seek a fifth term as chancellor after serving for 16 years.
“I am proud to receive the honorary degree from the Technion as a scientist and not just as a politician,” said Dr. Merkel, who holds a doctorate in the natural sciences from the German Academy of Science in Berlin. “Israel was founded on a vision that was as scientific — technological as it was political, and some of the beginnings took place at the Technion. The Technion served as a cornerstone in the development of high tech and in what is now called the Startup Nation.”
The Technion recognized Dr. Merkel for her continuous support of Israel; her steadfast fight against antisemitism and racism; for her exemplary leadership, wisdom, and humanity; and for her strong support for science and education.
“Chancellor Merkel’s path has taken her from a brilliant scientific career in quantum chemistry to an unparalleled political legacy at a time of tectonic changes starting with the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the unification of Germany,” said Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan. “Under her leadership, Merkel navigated Europe through a global economic crisis and displayed great humanity to those who were displaced by civil wars and other armed conflicts in the Middle East and Africa.”
President Sivan went on to praise her global leadership, “constantly trying to improve the lives of millions worldwide,” and to thank the chancellor. “We salute you for what you have given Germany, Israel, and the world. We are forever grateful.”
Chancellor Merkel has demonstrated time and again that she is a true friend to Israel. On the 60th anniversary of Israeli independence, Dr. Merkel gave an historic speech in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, stating that “Israel’s security is nonnegotiable” and paying tribute to the victims of the Holocaust. “The Holocaust fills us with shame,” she said. “I bow my head before the survivors, and I bow my head before you in tribute to the fact that you were able to survive.”
Despite occasional criticism of the Palestinian situation, Dr. Merkel was a relentless advocate for Israel. During her tenure as the European Union’s longest-serving current leader, Germany outlawed symbols designated by the EU as terrorist organizations; condemned the BDS movement as antisemitic; and supported many initiatives to combat antisemitism, including a $41.5 million investment to research hatred. In 2015, then Israeli President Shimon Peres awarded Chancellor Merkel the Presidential Medal, Israel’s highest honor.
The honorary doctorate is, similarly, the Technion’s highest honor, bestowed on those who distinguish themselves through outstanding scientific work or their contribution to public service, the Jewish people, and humanity at large. In accepting the honor, Chancellor Merkel joins a pantheon of leaders that includes Chaim Weizmann (1952), Albert Einstein (1953), Niels Bohr (1958), David Ben Gurion (1962), Yitzhak Rabin (1990), and Margaret Thatcher (1989).