- Increasing numbers of Israelis are applying for German
citizenship in order to have a secure country to escape to should the Middle
East conflict escalate, diplomats say.
- Since the start of the second intifada at the end of
September 2000, the number of applications for citizenship lodged with
the German embassy in Tel Aviv has risen steadily.
- The figure for January and February 2002 alone stood
at 498, compared with 1,253 for the whole of 2000. Last year 1,751 applications
were received and this year the number is expected to exceed 3,000. German
diplomats in Israel told today's edition of Der Spiegel magazine that most
of the applications are made by Israelis who want to have an "insurance
domicile" to move to, should the conflict with the Palestinians worsen.
- "It has to be said that the majority of applicants
do not intend to move to Germany, they want to stay in Israel if at all
possible," a diplomat told the magazine.
- A clause in Germany's constitution meant to offer a degree
of recompense for the Holocaust guarantees that people persecuted under
the Nazi regime or stripped of their citizenship because of race, religion
or politics have a life-long right to secure German citizenship. The clause
also includes offspring and other relatives.
- The recent trend has shown no sign of waning, despite
a fierce anti-semitism debate which began in Germany after Jurgen Mollemann,
the deputy leader of the liberal FDP party, compared the Israeli government's
tactics towards Palestinians to those of the Nazi regime.
- Jewish groups in Germany have taken to the streets to
protest at the remarks, and have called for Mr Mollemann to resign. A book
by a leading German author, Martin Walser, has also prompted much soul-searching
after critics declared it to be anti-semitic.
- A poll published at the weekend looked set to keep the
debate alive. A study by the Sigmund Freud Institute in Frankfurt showed
an increase in anti-semitism. Thirty-six per cent of those polled said
they would agree with the statement "I can understand very well that
some people are unpleasant towards Jews", compared with 20% three
- The number of Jews moving to Germany, mainly from the
former Soviet Union, has risen exponentially since the fall of the Berlin
Wall in 1989, with some cities seeing a tenfold increase in their Jewish
- The growth has often caused tension within the existing
Jewish community, many of whose members say those from the east claiming
to be Jews are not always genuine.