German Jewish leader calls boycotts anti-semitic

"The initiators think they’re being especially clever by saying themselves that it has nothing to do with the Nazis’ slogan ‘Don’t Buy from Jews.’"

March 16, 2011 04:10
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Dieter Graumann 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

BERLIN – Dieter Graumann, the new head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, on Tuesday issued a blistering attack on German peace activists who are promoting a boycott of Israeli fruit and cosmetic products.

“To me, the calls for a boycott – as I have said before in the matter in North Rhine- Westphalia – naturally are anti-Semitic in character,” Graumann told The Jerusalem Post. What else would they be?” Graumann added that “This time, the initiators think they’re being especially clever by saying themselves that it has nothing to do with the Nazis’ slogan ‘Don’t Buy from Jews.’ But that doesn’t help. It is what it is. Calls for boycotts against Israel – especially in Germany – for me always have an insensitive character.”

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“And by the way,” Graumann continued. “Where are all these peace groups’ calls for boycotts of Iran, for example? That alone speaks volumes.

And the fact that some Jews – whom I think are misguided – are taking part, is no justification.”

Activists from the “Bremer Peace Forum,” located in the northern port city of Bremen, called in early March for Israeli products to be boycotted because of Israel’s construction and policies in the disputed West Bank territories.

According to a Bremer Peace Forum boycott call, the Germans are “joining the worldwide appeal of concerned Jews.” Meanwhile, the forum listed no Jewish supporters, and compared Israel with the former racist regime in South Africa.

When asked about Graumann stating the forum’s boycott action is infected with anti-Semitism, Hartmut Drewes, a spokesman for the Forum, told the Post on Tuesday that “our people are not anti-Semites.” He added “we commemorate the Kristallnacht pogrom” and “we are not against Jews.”

Asked if the forum is boycotting any other countries, he said no.

The German Left Party branch in Bremen showed photographs of the demonstrators on its website standing in front of a Rewe City supermarket, with posters stating “Boycott Israel’s fruits.”

Asked about the Left Party showcasing the boycott calls against Israel on its website, Andreas Hein, a spokesman for the Bremen Left Party, responded by e-mail that the Left Party “neither supports nor called for” a boycott of Israeli fruit.

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