German official downplays Iranian threat


A German state president told U.S. Jewish leaders the Iranian threat should be diffused by offering Iran normal diplomatic ties.

“The key interest of Iran is not destroying Israel,” said Roland Koch, president of the German state of Hesse. “They want to be a respected member of society.”

The international community must find a way of “offering them an honorable place at the table of the world,” said Koch, who is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political party, the Christian Democratic Union. “Until we do that, they will continue to show us how important they are,” by pursuing nuclear ambitions and making trouble on the world stage.

The remarks rankled Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who told Koch, “It’s not respect they’re looking for. It’s too easy to talk about respect when you have a country bent on your destruction.”

Hoenlein said Germany has a “special responsibility and a special role,” to galvanize European support for strengthening sanctions against Iran to neutralize the threat to Israel’s destruction.


Koch, who strongly condemned last Friday’s stabbing of an Orthodox rabbi in the Hessen city of Frankfurt, met with Hoenlein and other leaders Monday at Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue.


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