German politico due in TA accused of anti-Semitism

Kerstin Muller, the Bundestag deputy slated to run a foundation based in Israel, supports boycotting settler-produced goods.

May 29, 2013 19:19
3 minute read.
A sign in Sweden calls for Israel boycotts.

boycott israel sign swdish 370. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

BERLIN – Rising criticism of a German Green party campaign to label and boycott Israeli goods produced over the Green Line, which was co-initiated by Bundestag deputy Kerstin Müller, triggered on Wednesday a series of calls for her to refrain from taking up her recent appointment as head of the Tel Aviv office of the party’s Heinrich Böll Foundation.

“So long as Ms. Müller demands the labeling of goods from only one country in the world, namely Israel, she is acting in an anti-Semitic way,” Dr. Gideon Joffe, head of Germany’s largest Jewish community (10,500) in Berlin, told The Jerusalem Post.

“I am not aware that she has made this demand with respect to other countries with border conflicts, like, for example, in France, England, Spain, Turkey, Morocco, India, China or Russia. Thus a classic case of anti-Semitic discrimination is present,” Joffe said.

“Enough is enough," Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post from Jerusalem. "It’s high time the Jewish world and all those truly interested in a true peace in the Holy Land to have a zero tolerance for campaigners for BDS – an anti-Semitic, anti-peace poison pill.”

"If Ms. Müller is committed to the boycott, she should relocate to Riyadh, not Tel Aviv," he said. "And don’t bother lecturing Jews that her real goal is to push Israel to make peace with Palestinians. No one buys that nonsense. Want to help peace? As a German, she should publicly scold Palestinian leaders who deny and minimize the Nazi Holocaust while depicting Israeli actions as worst than the Shoah.”

“Kerstin Müller is an experienced foreign policy politician and with her her longtime involvement in German-Israeli relations and the Middle East peace process make her an ideal representative for the foundation in Tel Aviv," Ralf Fücks, the head of the Heinrich-Böll Foundation, wrote the Post in an email response.

Müller is slated to move to Tel Aviv later this year to run the foundation’s office.

“The Heinrich Böll Foundation irresponsibly channels German taxpayer funds to some causes and organizations that promote political warfare against Israel," Prof. Gerald Steinberg, head of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, told the Post on Wednesday.

He cited the Greens support for “such radical Palestinian groups as the Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem.”

“They also sponsor highly distorted events on Israel in the EU," Steinberg said. "Based on her support for BDSM (the immoral boycott movement), the concern is that Kerstin Müller will intensify the attacks on the elected government of Israel under the facade of German-funded ‘civil society’ activities. Before she agrees to this position, she would be well advised to learn something about Israeli realities, in contrast to the myths of German ideologues and their allies.”

Michael Schroeren, spokesman for the Green party faction in the Bundestag, rejected the criticisms leveled at Müller.

“There are no statements from the Greens in the Bundestag or from individual members of the fraction in which a boycott of Israel is advocated. We reject the accusation of anti-Semitism,” he wrote the Post by email.

Schroeren cited a November,2012 Green party parliamentary questionnaire covering the misuse of labeled products from the Morocco-occupied Western Sahara as proof that the Greens are not applying double standards to the Jewish state.

Dr. Dieter Graumann, head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, told the Post that the Greens should apply “more balance and less onesidedness” to Israel. He added, “The Greens have allowed themselves to be instrumentalized as the advocate of the anti-Israel BDS (boycott, sanctions, divestment) movement.”

Graumann urged the Greens to focus their legislative energies "on the Arab world and those countries who want to wipe out and destroy Israel. That demands - loud and clear - a label!”

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