The think tank for Germany’s Social Democratic Party is under fire for hosting a conference on the Iran nuclear deal that features a representative from an Islamic Republic of Iran institution that promotes Holocaust denial and a second official who supports a war against Israel.
The May 14 event is titled “Deal or No Deal: One year after the US withdrawal from the atomic agreement.”
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi-hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center and head of its Jerusalem office, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday: “If these are the kinds of guests invited to Berlin, which gives legitimacy to Iranian Holocaust denial and the Iranian regime’s genocidal threats against Israel, it is not surprising that German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has pursued policies severely critical of Israel and voted against Israel at the UN.” Germany voted with Iran’s regime 16 times against Israel last year at the world body.
Zuroff added that the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) should cancel the invitation to the Iranian regime representatives and invite Iranian dissidents instead.
According to an article in the weekly German newspaper Jungle World by Andreas Benl, the Ebert Foundation invited Saeed Khatibzadeh, who represents the think tank of Iran’s Foreign Ministry – the Institute for Political and International Studies, which organized the 2006 Holocaust denial conference in Tehran. The 2006 event – “The International Conference On Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision” – featured a who’s who of global and Iranian Holocaust deniers.
The Ebert conference next week will also feature Hassan Ahmadian, who defended massacres carried out by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Shi’ite militias in Syria, as “forward deterrence” against the Jewish state. The United States classifies the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.
The Jungle World article criticized the Ebert Foundation for only inviting Iranian regime representatives in the past. It cited the recent invitation of Seyed Hossein Mousavian, the ambassador to Germany during the time of Iran’s assassination of Kurdish dissidents at a Berlin restaurant in 1992.
Itai Reuveni, Director of Communications for the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, told the Post: “FES’s choice of a speaker from the institute responsible for the infamous Iranian Holocaust denial conference is unfortunate. This is not first time that we have seen a lack of critical oversight on FES’s part regarding Israel and core Middle East security issues. As we documented in the past, FES continued to support an NGO that glorified terrorists, even after other donors pulled out. As more and more countries adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, we hope that FES will better represent its stated values in the future.”
Germany’s Foreign Ministry represented by the controversial Social Democrat Niels Annen celebrated Iran’s Islamic revolution in February at the embassy in Berlin.
Germany’s Social Democratic President Frank-Walter Steinmeier sent a telegram to Iran’s mullah regime that praised the revolution’s 40th anniversary.
In April, the foundation disinvited the Israeli writer Chaim Noll because he criticized the anti-Israel and pro-Iran policies of the German government, specifically Germany’s Foreign Minister Maas.
Benl wrote in Jungle World: “For the representative of a Holocaust denier think tank, the doors are open at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation; for a vociferous Jewish critic of German foreign policy, they remain closed.”
The foundation’s office in the state of Saxony wrote on Thursday in response to the anti-Israel scandal surrounding Noll: “We note with regret that a partially non-objective debate on our attitude to the Israeli-German author Chaim Noll has emerged in an article in The Jerusalem Post, especially in social media. Some critics accuse us of anti-Israeli activities, which lacks any basis and also affects us.”
The Ebert statement said: “Our attitude towards Israel is characterized by solidarity and a special responsibility against the background of German history.”
Critics on social media said the Ebert Foundation’s explanation did not explain why it disinvited Noll.
Maas, the Social Democratic foreign minister, said last year that he went into politics “because of Auschwitz.”
The foundation previously defended its 2004 Beirut-based conference organized with the terrorist entity Hezbollah. The Post sent press queries to Adrienne Woltersdorf, a spokeswoman for the foundation, in connection with its event with the Iranian regime officials.