May 11, 2015 — The Hebrew University of Jerusalem will confer an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree upon Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Federal Republic of Germany’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the university’s annual Convocation ceremony on May 31.
During the ceremony, Dr. Steinmeier will present a major address on the topic of German-Israeli relations.
The award will be conferred in recognition of Dr. Steinmeier’s devotion to his country and his adherence to the principles of ethical behavior during his longstanding service in government; in appreciation of his advancement of close ties between Germany and Israel and his unwavering friendship and support for the State of Israel; and in admiration of his constant and vociferous condemnation of all acts and forms of antisemitism, and his diplomatic efforts towards the Middle East Peace Process.
The award marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Germany. In the context of this unique relationship, earlier this year The Hebrew University and the Free University of Berlin (Freie Universität Berlin) further expanded their strategic partnership and signed a joint Ph.D. agreement, the first of its kind between German and Israeli institutions of higher learning.
President of The Hebrew University Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson said, “Dr. Steinmeier is a leading European statesman who plays a decisive role in important initiatives. As Minister for Foreign Affairs and in his various posts within the German government, Dr. Steinmeier has been a valued supporter and friend of Israel, a respected envoy on challenges facing the Middle East and beyond, and a committed critic of antisemitism. For these reasons it gives us great pleasure to award him our highest honor, Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa.”
Dr. Steinmeier is a distinguished international statesman who has served in his country’s state and federal political arenas for almost 25 years.
Following his military service, he studied law and politics at university, completed his professional legal training and received his doctorate in law. A member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Germany, he held several posts in the state government of Lower Saxony. In 1998, when the Social Democrats under Gerhard Schröder won the national elections, Dr. Steinmeier moved to the federal level and served as Chief of the Chancellery until 2005. He was then appointed the foreign minister in the grand coalition cabinet led by Angela Merkel and in 2007 he also became vice-chancellor, serving in both positions until 2009. Dr. Steinmeier was the leader of the opposition from 2009 until 2013, when he resumed his current position of Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Throughout his years of public service, Frank-Walter Steinmeier has proven a warm and close friend of the state of Israel who has unfailingly expressed his good will and support. He is a frequent visitor who meets with Israel’s political leaders, takes a deep interest in the country’s art and culture and has actively encouraged the development of Israel-Germany trade and business relations. Dr. Steinmeier is vociferous in his criticism of any form of anti-Semitic act or expression shown toward Israel. He has been staunch both in his commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself and in his diplomatic efforts for the Middle East Peace Process.
From 2005 to 2009, Dr. Steinmeier served on the board of directors of the German Coordinating-Council for Christian-Jewish Cooperation, an umbrella organization for 81 associations in Germany working for Christian-Jewish collaboration. An outspoken critic of antisemitism in Germany and Europe, he declared in 2014 that “Europe must pursue a zero tolerance policy on anti-Semitism.”
In March 2008, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, Dr. Steinmeier participated in the first joint cabinet meeting of the governments of Germany and Israel in Jerusalem.
Dr. Steinmeier is the third recipient from Germany to receive an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University in the past decade. Chancellor Angela Merkel was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2007. The immediate past president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, was a 2014 recipient.
The Convocation Ceremony will take place during the annual Board of Governors meeting on Sunday, May 31, 2015 at the Rothberg Amphitheatre on the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus.