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October 10, 2021 2:16 pm
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Israel’s ‘True Friend’ Angela Merkel Honored With Female Scientist Fellowship During Farewell Visit

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett give a joint news conference in Jerusalem, October 10, 2021. Menahem Kahana/Pool via REUTERS

Israel President Isaac Herzog on Sunday “surprised” Germany’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel with an honorary fellowship in her name dedicated to outstanding female scientists at the country’s Weizmann Institute.

“Together with Prof. Alon Chen of the Weizmann Institute, I surprised the Chancellor with a special gift: creating the annual Dr. Angela Merkel Postdoctoral Fellowship for Outstanding Women Scientists in Chemical Physics at the Weizmann Institute,” Herzog announced.

“Merkel has been a leading advocate of women’s advancement in science and great friend of Israel. There could be no greater tribute to her than the establishment of this honorary fellowship for outstanding female scientists in Israel,” he remarked.

Merkel thanked Herzog for the “wonderful gift” and emphasized the importance of continuing to advance women in science and technology.

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As part of Merkel’s last visit to Israel as Chancellor of Germany, Herzog hosted the country head for lunch in Jerusalem to “thank her for her long friendship with Israel, including 16 years as Chancellor of Germany (…) for her personal commitment to Israel’s security and Holocaust remembrance.”

“She will always be welcome back in Israel,” he added.

“You are a true friend of Israel, and we shall always remember this. You are a friend of the whole Jewish People. You are one of the most important leaders of the modern age,” said Herzog. “We have much to learn from you, and we have had an excellent discussion about ways to work together in the fight against antisemitism and to educate the future generation about our shared values.”

Merkel also met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and appeared in a photo op together with the female ministers of the 36th government of Israel, which has the highest ever representation of female ministers in Israel’s history. They include Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen, Economy Minister Orna Barbivai, Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, Science Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, and Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg.

“At the end of the special cabinet meeting with Chancellor Merkel, a few of the female ministers stayed to get some advice from a great woman leader. I also thanked her for her global leadership in the field of climate change,” Zandberg tweeted, commenting on a picture with Merkel surrounded by a few female ministers.

During a previous state visit to Israel back in 2018, Merkel lamented at a meeting with future business leaders that she was the only woman present, noting that it would be nice if next time there would be female participants as well. The photo op from that meeting showing Merkel as the only woman in a group men created some backlash from feminist groups at the time, who staged an alternative photo with a cut-out of Merkel next to Israeli businesswomen as well as a few businessmen.

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