In what can only be described as the most unfortunate shadow possible, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's finger left a definite mark on the face of German Chancellor Angela Merkel:
The timing of the snapshot captured a pseudo-Hitler mustache on the German leader's face, and if it were any two other leaders in the world, Getty photographer Yoav Lemme's image would be a non-story. But the accidental allusion to Germany's fraught history kicked off a media furor across the Internet.
Netanyahu and Merkel are meeting during an annual joint conference this week, looking ahead to the 50th year of diplomatic ties between Israel and Germany, which takes place in 2015. Merkel said the historic anniversary offers the opportunity “to look ahead without forgetting the past,” according to the New York Times.
Nazi Germany was responsible for the deaths of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, but is now Israel's strongest European ally, the Associated Press notes. Merkel stated during the conference that she recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.
German law strictly forbids many Nazi symbols under Section 86a of its "Strafgesetzbuch," or criminal code. Per the law, "flags, insignia, uniforms and their parts, slogans and forms of greeting," including the "Heil Hitler" salute, Hitler representations and the swastika in promotion of Nazism, are banned.
A postcard featuring Hitler's image and sale of a model airplane with a swastika on it, for example, were previously forbidden. The sale of an antique copy of Hitler's memoir, "Mein Kampf," with a swastika imprinted on the cover, however, was permitted.