Jewish Leaders Criticize Bonn for Its Plan to Deport Gypsies

The Jewish community here and overseas has criticized the German government’s move to deport thousands of Gypsies back to Romania.

A community spokesman said the government should instead curb neo-Nazis who have attacked Gypsies and other foreigners seeking asylum in Germany.

Bonn and Bucharest last week signed an agreement allowing the deportation of Romanians, mostly Gypsies, living illegally in Germany. The German government has offered about $20 million to help resettle returning deportees.

The Jewish community compared the government’s move to the way it handled the right-wing attack on a refugee hostel in the eastern German town of Hoyerswerda, where it evacuated the foreigners instead of putting the attackers behind bars.

“You don’t just expel people without studying their individual problems,” the community statement said.

The government’s move also came under sharp attack from the opposition Green party, which said it evoked comparison with atmosphere in 1933 when the Nazis seized power.

The planned deportation violates the country’s constitution said Konrad Weiss, a Green lawmaker and a leading pro-Israel activist in the party. He added: “I am ashamed to be a citizen of this kind of Germany.”

In New York, the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council called on Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the German leadership to s”protect the rights of minorities and to counter extremist movements in Germany.”

“Memory of the tragic past strengthens our belief that this kind of violence cannot be tolerated in any democratic society. It must be brought to an end with the rights of the victims protected by German authorities,” the umbrella group said.

German authorities should act now to put an end to attacks on foreigners and prosecute those responsible, said the statement. It also called for the introduction of an educational process to reduce prejudice in eastern Germany, “including the study of the Holocaust, in the work place, the high schools and universities.”

A leader of Reform Judaism described the deportation move as evidence that the Kohl regime has “cravenly surrendered to the frenzy of the mob.”

The decision is “clearly designed to appease the violent antiforeigner movement that has swept over Germany in recent months,” said Melvin Merlans, chairman of the board of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the central body of Reform Judaism.

Merians said the German government had failed to punish the rioters, including those who firebombed a hostel for refugees in the eastern German city of Rostock, touching off a wave of violence against foreigners in other parts of Germany.

“Surely the chancellor must be aware that appeasing hatemongers will only incite them to greater ferocity and more destructiveness. Such a policy bodes ill not only for the targets of German bigots but for the very future of German democracy.”

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