Anti-israel Sentiment in West Germany Follows Begin’s Sharp Attack on Chancellor Schmidt
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Anti-israel Sentiment in West Germany Follows Begin’s Sharp Attack on Chancellor Schmidt

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The dramatic deterioration of relations between West Germany and Israel during the past week had repercussions today when Jewish students and other pro-Israel activists drew hostile reactions as they offered passers-by flowers, balloons and pamphlets in connection with the 33rd anniversary of Israel’s independence. Angry confrontations were reported in 10 cities where pro-Israel groups had erected street platforms. But no incidents of violence were reported.

In Duesseldorf and Siegen, Jewish groups cancelled outdoor Independence Day celebrations for fear of possible attacks. The head of the German-Israel Friendship Association warned several days ago of a wave of anti-Israel sentiment in the Federal Republic, sparked by Premier Menachem Begin’s sharp verbal attack on Chancellor Helmut Schmidt for his pro-Arab policies.

In Cologne today, neo-Nazis and members of a group calling for the release of war criminal Rudolph Hess hurled epithets at Jewish students marking Israel’s independence. In Aachen, a small group of Arab students paraded under anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist slogans. But a reception organized in Bonn to mark the publication of a book on Jerusalem written by President Yitzhak Navon of Israel generated considerable interest and good will. About 200 persons attended.


The Jewish community in Duesseldorf organized a major Independence Day celebration this evening attended by the Israeli Ambassador, Yochanan Meroz. Earlier, the envoy appeared on national television to explain the situation. He said Israeli public opinion shared a profound concern over Bonn’s further shift toward the Arab camp.

He noted that Schmidt, during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia and upon his return, angered Israelis by speaking of the need to create a Palestinian state and his reference to the Palestine Liberation Organization as a liberation movement. Schmidt offered additional offense when, in a remark about the victims of Auschwitz, he failed to mention the Jewish victims on the very day that Israel was observing its annual memorial for those who perished in the Holocaust, the Ambassador said. Nevertheless, both Bonn and Jerusalem appear to be trying to calm tempers and end the confrontation.


(Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir said on a radio interview yesterday that “we should consider the incident closed. I see no point in carrying on the discussion without end.” He said he hoped the sharp exchange between Israel and West Germany “will result in benefits to both sides–that after the storm passes there will be greater understanding, both in West Germany and in other parts of Europe to the dangers inherent in the arms race to supply weapons to the Middle East.” He said he saw signs in fact that Europe was beginning to reconsider its arms supply policy.)

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