The German Green Party was plunged into its most devastating antisemitism scandal in October, over its vice president’s mainstreaming of a senior Iranian politician who denies the Holocaust and seeks the destruction of the Jewish state.
The antisemitism scandal came as Germany’s best-selling paper, Bild, ran an extraordinary series of articles and an editorial (“Shame on the Bundestag”) exposing Green Party Bundestag Vice President Claudia Roth’s zealous greeting of the speaker of Iran’s ersatz parliament, Ali Larijani.
The Green Party reaction was to hit back against Bild and other critics – without any asking of tough questions regarding whether the Party courting of Tehran over the decades has contributed to making Iranian regime-sponsored antisemitism and Holocaust denial socially and politically correct in Germany and Europe.
In a series of questions on Twitter, the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris, asked Roth: “Why do you, as a VP of German Parliament, meet w[ith]/ a Holocaust-denying, Israel-hating Iranian leader? Why do you, as leader of the ‘progressive’ Green Party, so joyfully chat w[ith]/ the rep[resentative]. of such a brutal Iran regime? Have you no shame?”
Dear Claudia Roth,Why do you, as a VP of German Parliament, meet w/ a Holocaust-denying, Israel-hating Iranian leader?Why do you, as leader of the “progressive” Green Party, so joyfully chat w/ the rep. of such a brutal Iran regime?Have you no shame? https://t.co/2kNpn4ysZQ— David Harris (@DavidHarrisAJC) October 22, 2019
Roth’s open-armed embrace of Larijani, without physical contact, hit a raw nerve because just days earlier, a neo-Nazi gunman attempted to create a bloodbath in a synagogue in the German city of Halle. What unites Ali Larijani and the neo-Nazi Stephan Balliet, who murdered two people outside the Halle synagogue on October 9, is that both deny the Shoah and seek the extermination of Jews.
Larijani defended, at the 2009 Munich Security Conference, former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust.
Both Larijani and Balliet are also wedded to an antisemitic worldview. Balliet believes in the “Zionist-occupied government” theory and Larijani concurs that “the Zionist regime should not be allowed to rule over Arab countries.”
Rewind to the Green Party, which has for decades provided succor to the Iranian regime’s lethal antisemites and Holocaust deniers. The bill of particulars that has dragged the Greens into the mire of antisemitism is long and deeply unsettling. Take the example of Roth, who in 2010 met in Tehran with Ali Larijani and his brother Mohammad-Javad Larijani, head of the Iranian Human Rights Council. Roth and the Greens have no discomfort with meeting Mohammad Larijani, who in 2008 – during a German Foreign Ministry-sponsored event held close to Berlin’s Holocaust memorial – denied the Shoah and called for Israel’s destruction.
Roth also courted Manouchehr Mottaki who, while foreign minister, delivered a key speech at Tehran’s 2006 Holocaust denial conference.
The rot does not stop at Roth. In 2009, her party colleague Renate Künast, then the co-head of the Green Party, invoked an antisemitic conspiracy theory to denigrate the work of the prominent anti-Iranian regime organization, Stop the Bomb. Künast reportedly told a pro-Israel advocate that Stop the Bomb “is a Mossad front,” that seeks to advance Israel’s security and stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program. A spokesman for Künast flatly denied she made the antisemitic remark at the time.
Stop the Bomb seeks to stop Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program and improve human rights in the highly repressive nation.
THE GREEN Party’s aggressive pacifism when dealing with the mullah regime has led to victorious defeatism. Germany’s concessionary talks with Iran’s clerical regime under Berlin’s former foreign minister Joschka Fischer (1998-2005), which were intended to stop Tehran’s development of nuclear weapons, resulted in Tehran biding its time. The Greens still believe that the failed and antiquated negotiating frameworks of “critical dialogue” and “trade through change” will influence a change in the revolutionary mindset of the regime’s tyrants, such as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.
In 2017, Tarek Al-Wazir, the Green Party’s economic minister for the state of Hesse, rolled out the red carpet for an Iranian bank and business forum.
Garry Kasparov, a human rights advocate and arguably the greatest chess player of all time, recently wrote on Twitter in connection with his Washington Post obituary about Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky that “He understood better than anyone [that] you could not negotiate with evil.”
Kasparov continued in the obituary: “Bukovsky’s warnings about not making common cause with despotism are needed more than ever today. As he wrote in Judgment in Moscow, ‘The voice of conscience whispers that our fall began from the moment we agreed to “peaceful coexistence” with evil.’”
The Greens insist on negotiating with the evil in Tehran. To be fair, as the American Enterprise Institute’s Iran expert Dr. Michael Rubin noted in his recent Washington Examiner commentary titled “The US should sanction Germans trading with Iran,” German support for Iran is ubiquitous. “The problem is not simply mainstream German politicians, but transcends the entire German political spectrum,” wrote Rubin. “The German far-Right makes common cause with Tehran over Holocaust denial, while Claudia Roth, chairman of the German Green Party, high-fived the Iranian ambassador, a man directly implicated in the slaughter of Kurds while serving as governor in Iran’s Kurdistan province.”
A blind eye has been turned to the Iranian regime antisemitism infecting the Green Party by the latter’s own Bundestag deputies. The Green Party’s blasé attitude toward Iran’s eliminatory antisemitism erupted during October, when Mojtaba Zonnour, chairman of the Nuclear Subcommittee of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee in Iran’s Majlis legislature, said: “If Israel or America make a mistake, Israel won’t live for longer than 20 or 30 minute[s].”
Weeks before Zonnour threatened the obliteration of Israel, Maj.-Gen. Hossein Salami, the commander-in-chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), delivered yet another call to destroy the Jewish state. Salami declared that, “This sinister regime [Israel] must be wiped off the map – and this is no longer… a dream, [but] it is an achievable goal.” He said that the Islamic Republic of Iran had “managed to obtain the capacity to destroy the impostor Zionist regime.”
Numerous Jerusalem Post press queries to Green Party leaders Annalena Baerbock, Robert Habeck and Claudia Roth were not answered.
IN 2018, Kathrin Göring-Eckardt, a Green Party vice president in the parliament, urged her party to take more action against antisemitism outside of her party. Writing in the left-wing German weekly Jungle World in late October, commentator Arthur Buckow noted that leftists and liberals are quick to condemn Jew-hatred – as long as it does not come from their own crowd.
Buckow stressed, however, that the “fight against antisemitism must be waged in an “uncompromising manner, and that means starting in one’s milieu – where it hurts.”
If you are going to do something fundamental to tackle antisemitism, it probably makes sense to start within your own ranks as a political party. Instead, the Greens have rallied around the pro-Iranian regime Roth flag, and lashed out at their critics. Roth is the Pied Piper of Iranian regime antisemites and Holocaust deniers; they are attracted to the Green Party because of her presence.
Never before since its founding in West Germany in 1980 has the Green Party been rocked by an antisemitism scandal of last month’s magnitude.
German Green Party politicians such as Sergey Lagodinsky, a member of the Berlin Jewish community, have either defended Roth, or – like the ex-Bundestag deputy and staunch advocate for Israel’s security Volker Beck – gone deadly silent.
In a commentary in Bild by Antje Schippmann and Björn Stritzel, the journalists seemed to suggest that one hears only crickets regarding Roth’s normalization of Iranian regime antisemitism and Holocaust denial from Green Party politicians such as Beck and Bundestag deputy Cem Özdemir, who have otherwise internalized the “universality of human rights” and the political dangers inherent in antisemitism. The paper wrote that, “Unfortunately, these not so few voices remain silent.” Beck and Özdemir were not named in the Bild article.
In 2018, the American Jewish Committee’s Berlin office honored Cem Özdemir with its AJC Ramer Award for Courage in the Defense of Democracy because he is an “outspoken foe of antisemitism and authoritarian regimes.”
Numerous Post queries to Beck and Lagodinsky were not returned. Beck blocked this reporter on Twitter.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, when asked about Roth’s meeting with Larijani, told the Post that Beck’s “silence is disturbing.”
Cooper said that Beck “is one of the most important figures in a generation, and it is not too late to make two points, that will impact on current members of the Bundestag within and beyond his party, and young Germans attracted to the Green Party worldview.
“The two points are: It cannot be business as usual with Iranian diplomats and politicians so long as Tehran continues its policy of Shoah denial, and its increasingly menacing genocidal threats against the more than six million Jews in Israel,” he said.
BECK HAS faced criticism from the German-Iranian dissident and human rights advocate Saba Farzan. Writing on Twitter on November 1, she said: “I’ve always been critical of Volker Beck – he participated in a debate at the Islamic Center in Hamburg, run by the Iranian regime, with representatives of that mosque. There’s nothing to discuss with Sharia-loving criminals – absolutely nothing.”
She added that “now, would a true Democrat and friend of Israel and the Jewish people do that? I don’t think so. Solidarity is not something that you can show in a convenient moment – it is a support in the most critical situation. Each time, Beck has gone missing.”
Farzan and other critics of the Green Party’s desperate attempts to normalize Iran’s regime via negotiation and dialogue say they only embolden the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Indeed, one could argue that the party’s devotion to Iran’s regime is a faithful reflection of its political culture.
Another striking example of the party’s devotion to normalizing the Islamic Republic of Iran in Germany is furnished by Bundestag deputy Omid Nouripour. He announced that he would no longer give interviews to Bild because of its critical coverage of Roth and the party. Yet Nouripour, who signed on to an anti-Israel Green Party initiative to label Jewish products from the disputed territories in 2013, is on the board of the German-Palestinian Association. Board members of the association, with whom Nouripour presumably speaks, advocate for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. One board member, Christine Buchholz, a Left Party Bundestag deputy, has defended Hezbollah – Iran’s chief terrorist proxy in the Middle East – and Palestinian Hamas terrorism against Israel as a justified form of “resistance.”
Another possible dialogue partner for Nouripour on the German-Palestinian Association advisory board is Udo Steinbach, the former head of the German Orient Institute in Hamburg. He compares Palestinian “resistance” against Israel to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the Germans in 1943.
Steinbach appeared at a pro-Iranian regime event with Tehran’s ambassador to Germany. “The Israelis are massacring the Palestinians,” Steinbach said.
It remains unclear whether the antisemitism scandal within the Green Party will take a toll on its election fortunes. One poll in early November showed that after the Bild coverage of Roth, the party’s numbers dropped by two percentage points.
In the final analysis, German voters must decide whether the odious and holier-than-thou pro-Iranian regime shenanigans of the Green Party will be enough to persuade them to punish Roth and the party at the ballot box in the next federal election, expected to be held between August and October 2021.