5 German Youth Groups Cancel Visits to Israel; 3 Others Will Not Host Israeli Youths Due in Germany

Youth exchange visits between West Germany and Israel have apparently suffered because of the war in Lebanon. Five West German youth groups have cancelled visits to Israel and three others announced they would refuse to host Israeli groups due to come here.

The German groups which decided not to go to Israel said their reasons were political. They stressed, however, that their decision did not mean an end to the youth exchange program with Israel. A Knesset member, Adi Amorai, who is chairman of the public council for youth exchanges, said here that the number of cancellations or delays this year have been no greater than in any previous year.

Amorai told his German counterparts that it was especially important to promote youth exchanges now precisely because of the sharp differences over Israel’s actions in Lebanon. He was told that the timing of Israel visits should be carefully weighed.

It is in fact difficult to measure the effect of the war in Lebanon on the wide range of youth exchange programs scheduled for next summer. Of the 120 German youth groups which visited Israel annually, about half are financed by funds ear-marked for trips to Israel only. The funds available to the rest can be used for trips to any country in the Middle East.

The new Christian Democratic government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl is reviewing its Middle East policy with the aim of improving relations with all countries in the region. But no major initiatives are expected before the general elections next March 6.

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