BERLIN – A senior Bundestag deputy on Wednesday called on his country’s Foreign
Ministry to drop its planned participation in the UN-sponsored anti-racism
Durban commemoration event next month because the conference will attack Israel
as an allegedly racist state.
“It can be anticipated that the memorial
event on September 22 will be misused as a platform to defame the State of
Israel, as happened at the Durban Conference in 2001 and the Durban Review
Conference in Geneva in 2009,” Philipp Missfelder, a historian and foreign
policy spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, told
The Jerusalem Post.
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“Germany should refrain from participating in this
conference, as it did in 2009.
We should not support with our attendance
a conference at which our partner Israel is denounced as an apartheid
Missfelder appears to be the first deputy to break with German Foreign
Minister Guido Westerwelle’s plan to participate in Durban III. Missfelder, who
turned 32 on Thursday, is viewed as a rising star in the CDU. He is an advocate
of strong relations with the Jewish state and the United States.
Durban III event planned for September 22 in New York City commemorates the
Durban I conference, which singled out Israel as a human rights violator in its
founding document. At Durban I, the streets were filled with signs such as “for
the liberation of Quds machine guns based on faith and Islam must be used,” and
handouts with Hitler’s photo read, “What if I had won? The good things: There
would be no Israel...”
Asked about Missfelder’s call for Germany to skip
Durban III, a Foreign Ministry spokesman told the Post on Thursday that the
ministry “has read very attentively the statements from deputy
The spokesman reiterated the ministry’s position that the
German government is working to “prevent the Durban process from being used to
A spokeswoman from Merkel’s office told the Post that
the Foreign Ministry’s statement is the “position of the federal
While EU countries such as Italy, the Netherlands and the
Czech Republic plan to boycott Durban III because the conference will be a
showcase for contemporary hatred of Israel and Jews, critics accuse Merkel’s
administration of propping up an event designed to strip Israel’s of its
legitimacy and to fan the flames of Jew-hatred.
Anne Bayefsky, a human
rights scholar and activist, is the main organizer of a counter-Durban III event
planned for New York with Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie
Wiesel, told the Post, “It is appalling that any German leader would want to
participate in Durban III – It is specifically intended to ‘commemorate’ an
event steeped in anti-Semitism and it will repeat and celebrate egregious
discrimination against Israel.
“Labeling the Jewish state racist harks
back to an era which the German government should be doing everything in their
power to condemn – starting with boycotting this centerpiece of UN-based
hate-mongering,” said Bayefsky, who directs the Touro College Institute on Human
Rights and the Holocaust and is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in New
In a sign of growing tension over Durban III with Germany’s
organized Jewish community, Dr. Dieter Graumann, the head of the Central Council
of Jews in Germany, told the local media that it is long overdue that Germany
boycott Durban III.
Durban III is a “disgusting show trial” that once
again will place Israel alone in the dock, he said.
Graumann wrote a
letter calling for Westerwelle to pull out of the conference because it is a
“festival of hostility toward Jews.” It is imperative that Germany show clarity
and consistency in terms of combating loathing of Jews, he said. “Germany must
not give this hate campaign the appearance of legitimacy.”
Westerwelle’s decision to ignore his letter and boycott call, Graumann told the
DAPD wire service on Monday, “Maybe something will still come – better still,
something will happen.”
The Foreign Ministry in Berlin told the Post
Graumann’s letter will be answered.
Merkel’s CDU and its Bavarian sister
party, the Christian Social Union, is split. On the one hand, there are deputies
who support strengthening ties with Israel and the US. On the other hand, there
are CDU-CSU deputies who promote relations with Israel’s enemies such as Iran.