BERLIN – Germany committed to combat anti-Semitism, Bundestag President Norbert Lammert said at the Conference of European Rabbis.
Lammert voiced criticism of Israel’s government when asked whether he thought the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement was a disguise for anti-Semitism.
“From time to time there are disguised political statements, but to be frank, there is a similar temptation on the part of the Israeli government that receives all criticism against it as anti-Semitism,” he said on Tuesday.
Lammert told the rabbis that despite the fact that there are instances of anti-Semitism in Europe, Germany is the safest place on the continent for Jews.
He feels a personal responsibility to the way Germany relates to its past and its future, he said.
“I am personally concerned regarding the lives of the Jews in Germany and, in light of the events of the past, that it be a flourishing community,” he said, adding that “no one believed Germany would once again have a large Jewish community as it does now.”
“Once there was an anti-Semitic country, but today there is a country that acts against anti-Semitism,” Lammert said of Germany’s commitment to combat the phenomenon.
The Bundestag president addressed the Knesset in June of last year. At the time, he said that Germany opposes the “unwise and unnecessary” European Commission decision to label products from the West Bank, the Golan Heights and Jerusalem.
“Germany not only didn’t agree to the decision, it rejected it,” he said.
But, Lammert said, “it doesn’t come from anti-Semitism. We have to understand the situation in the occupied territories is complicated, because of international law.”
When asked whether the EU not having called to label products from places like Tibet or Crimea or the Western Sahara was an indication of anti-Semitism, Lammert said he could “understand Israel’s anger.”
“Germany can imagine a better law, if it were to apply to everyone, on principle, to all occupied land,” he added.
“Because it’s specifically against Israel, I repeat that it is unnecessary and not very smart.”Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.