BONN (Feb. 9)
Some 60 percent of the Jewish refugees from the former Soviet Union who have settled in Germany are not Jewish, according to a German diplomat.
Alexander Arnot, the German ambassador in Kiev until last year, said that among the 30 to 40 thousand refugees were large numbers of high officials of the former Communist regime as well as young men who were seeking to avoid the draft.
“All these people have nothing to do with Judaism,” Arnot told the Munich-based news magazine Focus. “For them, it’s just an opportunity to leave their respective countries and come to the West.”
A spokesman for the Jewish community in Germany rejected Arnot’s allegations.
Under an agreement with the Jewish community in Germany, Bonn committed after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 to generous arrangements for Jewish refugees who wanted to settle in Germany.
The refugees receive housing, cash assistance, access to language courses and help in getting jobs or starting businesses.
They also can become German citizens if they wish.
Israel has criticized the generous practice, which resulted in doubling the number of Jews in Germany to some 60,000 over the past five years.
But German Jewish officials have welcomed the influx of Jews as an opportunity to revive a small and aging community.