(October 4, 2018 / JNS) As part of her visit to Israel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel received an honorary doctorate on Thursday from the University of Haifa for “her inspirational leadership in the European and global arenas, fostering tolerance and striving for peace within Germany and around the world,” according to a statement.
“The Western World is under attack, not by some sudden, violent use of conventional armed force, but by a slow, non-military war on our institutions, in particular on our parliamentary systems and on the free flow of information,” said Professor Ron Robin, president of the University of Haifa. “Yet despite such missteps, universities remain the most robust stronghold of verifiable knowledge and the most important institutional antidote to a post-truth environment.”
“At this critical junction in history, we clearly see the need to bring together the most proficient researchers in the university to address the key threats to democracy in the information age: the loss of privacy, the blurring borderlines between computers and human beings, and the fight against half-truths, fallacies, conspiracy theories and straight-up fake news,”continued Robin. “Chancellor Merkel is an exemplary example of the correct conduct against these dangers, and it is a great privilege to confer upon her an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Haifa.”
The award ceremony, which took place at the Israel Museum, consisted of the German leader meeting with University of Haifa graduate students, including those who are German. She spoke to the students before answering questions from them, such as the ongoing Iranian nuclear threat.
“The conflict between Iran and Israel has become even more acute because of Syria, so it is very good that Russia has taken care of an Iranian withdrawal from the Israeli border,” said Merkel. “The question is whether the agreement with Iran is the right way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons or that it is too weak. This is part of our ongoing discussion with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”
Additionally, Merkel denied reports that she threatened to cancel her Israel visit if the illegal neighborhood of Khan al-Ahmar were evacuated. “It’s absolutely not true. It’s an Israeli decision, and it has nothing to do with our meeting,” she said. “Reports of this were fake news. It is an internal Israeli matter and we do not interfere in it, even if I might have criticism.”