BERLIN – The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany blasted the
country’s second-largest political party, the Social Democrats (SPD), for
forming a “strategic partnership” with Fatah.
“The SPD works with a
terror organization, which has called for hate and agitation against Jews,” said
Dr. Dieter Graumann, the head of Germany’s Jews, in the Bild newspaper on
Monday. He added that the SPD “should be ashamed of itself“ for its alliance
with the Palestinian faction.
SPD general secretary Andrea Nahles issued
a joint paper declaring that her party and Fatah had engaged in a “strategic
dialogue” and shared “common values.” She and the SPD leadership welcomed a
delegation of Fatah members last week to the party’s Berlin headquarters, the
Willy Brandt Haus.
Bild sub-headlined its story, “Fatah is considered
hostile to Israel and representatives of the organization continuously deliver
According to the newspaper, SPD head Sigmar
Gabriel was irritated about Graumann’s accusations.
“I don’t understand
the criticism,” said Gabriel, who rejected Graumann’s accusation and noted that
Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas had recognized Israel’s right to exist and been the
negotiating partner of many Israeli governments.
Graumann called on SPD
chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrück to distance himself from the party’s
alliance with Fatah.
“The statement of common values is a scandal,” said
the Jewish leader, adding that he hoped the Social Democrats knew what type of
organization Fatah was.
He also cast doubt on the SPD’s leadership
ability, saying, “This SPD is entirely not suitable for
Critics in Germany accuse the Social Democrats under Nahles
and Gabriel of stoking anti-Israel bias. Gabriel said earlier this year during a
visit to Israel and the West Bank that the Jewish state was an “apartheid
He has also defended author Günter Grass, who blamed Israel in
April for being the chief impediment to international peace and dismissed Iran’s
threats to wipe the Jewish state off the map.
Responding to Graumann’s
criticism, Gabriel said Fatah was an internationally recognized negotiating
partner and that the radical Islamist Hamas “would not be a good
He said the SPD had cultivated contact with Fatah over the
years and that the rejection of violence, the recognition of Israel’s right to
exist and the desire for a Palestinian state formed the basis of the two
He added that Fatah was part of the values of
social democracy and was represented in the European coalition of social
democrats as an observer partner.
Reinhold Robbe, a member of the SPD and
the head of the German-Israeli Friendship Society (DIG), has not issued a
comment. DIG director Hildegard Radhauer said on Tuesday that she was certain
Robbe would respond.
Robbe has come under fire for failing to confront
anti-Israel sentiments within his party.