NEW YORK (Jan. 13)
German Chancellor Helmut Kohl recognizes the need for schools in his country to begin teaching the value of tolerance, and he is encouraging them to do so, according to officials of the Anti-Defamation League, who met with him Wednesday in Bonn.
The meeting took place during an 11-day visit to Germany undertaken by a 30-member ADL delegation, led by Abraham Foxman, the organization’s national director, and Melvin Salberg, its national chairman.
The visit, which began Monday, was made at the invitation of the German government.
In addition to Kohl, the group has already met with Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser Schnarrenberger and leaders of the German parliament, among others.
The delegation also met with the American and Israeli ambassadors to Germany, Robert Kimmit and Benjamin Navon, and the head of Germany’s Jewish community, Ignatz Bubis.
During the 90-minute meeting with Kohl, Foxman told the chancellor that while the Jewish community is pleased with the recent reduction in violence that has come as a result of the government’s crackdown on law-breakers, Jews are concerned about the long-term treatment of the problem.
“What kind of staying power will there be when people stop marching in the streets?” Foxman asked rhetorically, in a telephone interview from Bonn.
He was referring to the series of candlelight vigils and street demonstrations against racism in which millions of Germans have participated in recent weeks.
MEETINGS WITH TEACHERS IN ROSTOCK
“I told the chancellor that just as they spent 40 years teaching democracy, now they’ll have to spend a good deal of time teaching tolerance,” Foxman said.
After the meeting, the chancellor’s office put out a statement saying the two sides “agreed that the respect for and maintenance of human rights worldwide requires constant effort, which also and particularly relates to the education of youth for tolerance.”
As a result of the chancellor’s encouragement, the ADL plans to implement in Germany it’s World of Difference program, which has been used in 20 cities around the United States over the last six years.
ADL officials planned to meet later this week with school administrators and teachers from Rostock, the northeastern port city where major violence against foreigners took place last August, when a hostel housing foreign workers was firebombed, to the applause of area residents.
The World of Difference program is sensitivity training for educators and students, teaching them to live with and accept people from different cultures.
Implementing the program in Rostock would be “symbolic,” said Foxman, while the ADL tries to organize corporate sponsorship from German companies so that the program can be brought to larger school systems around the country.
(Contributing to this report were JTA correspondents David Kantor in Bonn and Igal Avidan in Berlin.)