Jerry Kopel

Aug. 26, 1997

Intermountain Jewish News

Letter to the Editor

Take three states bordering Canada: Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota. Pretend you sweep a broom due south from those states all the way to Mexico. You will touch Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Those 14 states make up the "West", with 28 U.S. Senators. Twenty-four of the 28 were among the 82 U.S. Senators who signed an open letter to Helmut Kohl, Chancellor of Germany, urging his nation to pay compensation to the few thousands of elderly Holocaust survivors still living in former Soviet bloc countries of eastern Europe.

The letter, published as a full page in the New York Times on Aug.17th, pointed out the German government is presently paying pensions to "veterans of the Waffen-SS and other Nazi military organizations living in these same countries".

The "West" does not have large numbers of persons of Jewish faith residing within those states. Yet those 14 states had a much higher percentage of U.S. Senators signing the open letter to Germany than did the rest of the nation. Only four of the 28 senators, did not sign: Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, Utah Sen. Robert Bennett and Colorado Sen. Ben Campbell.

There may be a good reason why Sen. Campbell did not sign. But at election time, what senators do or don't do is always subject to scrutiny. Sen. Campbell owes the voters of Colorado an explanation of why he did not join 24 other western senators in applying pressure on the German government.

Jerry Kopel

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