Leading German NGOs on Tuesday accused Social Democratic Mayor Albrecht Schröter, from the city of Jena in the state of Thuringia, of advocating a boycott of Israeli products that is so aggressive it recalls the Nazi-era campaign “Don’t buy from Jews” and contributes to the delegitimization of the Jewish state.
In an email to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, Kevin Zdiara, deputy representative of the German- Israeli friendship society in Erfurt, Thuringia’s capital city, wrote, “The campaign makes no distinctions; de facto, all Israeli products are to be boycotted, which does not contribute to peace. It also strongly recalls the Nazi slogan ‘Don’t buy from Jews.’” Zdiara added that “Schröter has been known for years for his attitude toward Israel. The mayor has participated in pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the West Bank and with a lecture at a pro-Hamas conference in Bad Boll. Schröter is an example of the classic Christian peace activist who only accuses Israel but closes his eyes to Palestinian crimes.”
Klaus Faber and Daniel Kilpert, two representatives of the Coordinating Council of German Non-governmental Organizations against Anti-Semitism, told the Post on Tuesday in a statement that the mayor’s conduct “crosses the line into anti-Semitism and delegitimizes the state of Israel. Why does Mr. Schröter see no occasion to call for a boycott against products from the anti-Semitic Islamic Republic of Iran, or from North Sudan, which has engaged in many massacres?” Klaus Faber, a prominent member of the Social Democratic Party, served as a high level minister in the department for education, science, research, culture and religious communities in the East German state of Saxony-Anhalt.
Dr. Reinhard Schramm, the deputy chairman of the Jewish community in Thuringia, told the Post on Tuesday in a telephone interview that the “boycott call is indecent and painful. The Mayor Dr. Schröter should not resign because he is not an anti-Semite. But he should know that with his signature he fosters anti-Semitic tendencies. Pax Christi is steeped in anti-Semitism because its variation of anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. “ Dr. Schramm is a retired professor of engineering and survived the Holocaust in hiding with his mother, Rosel.
Mayor Schröter signed the German catholic peace organization Pax Christi’s petition “Occupation tastes bitter” that calls for a sweeping boycott of Israeli goods.
Dr. Shimon Samuels, director of international relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post that Schröter’s call for a boycott “can work both ways. It is bad for Jena businesses.”
Samuels said that what Schröter was doing was “racist,” adding that the mayor had “brought a shadow over the city of light.” Jena is known for its optics-based industries.
Barbara Glasser, a spokeswoman for Schröter, told the Post by phone that the mayor is “guaranteed not an anti-Semite. He is for peace. He was awarded a civil courage prize.”
Zdiara, of Erfurt’s German-Israeli friendship society, says Pax Christi is known for its anti-Israel attitude.
“For years it has demonized only Israel and now, with its call for a boycott, has taken the side of the most aggressive Israel haters, whose goal is to delegitimize the Jewish state,” he said of the organization.