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Israel Watching Kiesinger with Mixed Feelings; Seen As Pro-israel

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Israel is watching with keen interest the efforts of Kurt Georg Kiesinger to form a West German Cabinet following his nomination by the strong Christian Democratic Party as Chancellor of the Bonn Government. The nomination was received here with mixed feelings. One reaction was popular concern over his Nazi past while there was also a belief in official circles that if he succeeded to the post of Chancellor, he would conduct a friendly policy toward Israel.

The German Embassy in Israel released a statement that Kiesinger’s affiliation with the Nazi Party was “strictly nominal” and short-lived. The Embassy also asserted that Kiesinger never opposed diplomatic relations with Israel and that, on the contrary, he had spoken out for such relations in the West German Bundestag, the lower house of Parliament, on several occasions.

Official sources expressed the belief that Kiesinger would most probably lead a friendly policy toward Israel if he succeeded Dr. Ludwig Erhard. Observers stressed the important role of Franz Josef Strauss, a former West German Defense Minister and a reliable friend of Israel, had in Kiesinger’s election and the considerable weight his influence would bear on any Cabinet led by Kiesinger.

Alex Springer, the West German press magnate, said here that “Kiesinger is not exactly the man I would have chosen for Chancellor but I am confident his basic approach to democracy is okay.” In an interview with Yediot Achronot, Springer said also that he talked recently with Kiesinger and that Kiesinger told him that “he feels he has to act basically for a continuation of improvement in Israeli-German relations.”

Springer, who came to Israel for the cornerstone laying of the $1,000,000 library he has donated to the Israel Museum, said he was convinced West Germany must not forget its Jewish citizens or the millions killed in the name of German expansionist aspirations.

Some sources here warned that Israel would have to watch carefully the developments stemming from Kiesinger’s elevation. Others asserted that his relations with Israel as Chancellor would be motivated by two factors. One was his Nazi past which would, in the opinion of these observers, compel him to adopt a positive policy toward Israel and Jews lest any adverse action be interpreted as hostile and Nazi-like. The other factor was the influence of Strauss, the former Defense Minister.

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