BONN (Feb. 5)
Visiting American Jewish leaders got encouraging words but no commitment here this week from Chancellor Helmut Kohl on whether Germany would makes loans available to Israel for immigrant absorption.
Kohl reiterated his country’s special obligation toward Israel and the Jewish people during his hour-long meeting with members of the American Jewish Committee’s Board of Governors headed by the group’s president, Alfred Moses.
But the chancellor steered clear of specific with respect to Israel’s request for 10 billions marks — the equivalent of over $6 billion — in German loans and assistance for immigrant housing and other absorption costs.
Earlier in the day, the visitors heard from Dr. Dieter Kastrup, a ranking official at the Foreign Ministry, that Germany is encountering enormous financial difficulties stemming from the 1990 reunification.
He made those comments in response to questions about possible financial assistance to Israel. Nevertheless, the Jewish leaders said later they were optimistic.
In their talks with Kohl and other government leaders, the American delegation also discussed anti-Semitism and the wave of neo-Nazi and extremist violence in Germany, directed so far mainly against foreigners seeking work or asylum in the country.
The AJCommittee group arrived in Germany on Sunday and was to fly to Israel on Thursday. German President Richard von Weizsacker held a reception in their honor Monday.
The visitors also met with Israel’s ambassador to Bonn, Benjamin Navon, with Berlin Mayor Eberhard Diepgen and with the prime minister of the federal state of Brandenburg, Manfred Stolpe.