Politicians slam German Greens for ‘Israel boycott’

Party calls to label West Bank, Golan products; comes under fire for "Nazis-style" boycotting, damaging German-Israeli relations.

May 26, 2013 01:08
3 minute read.
protest against Jewish settlements and in a call to boycott settlement products, October 24, 2012.

West bank supermarket, boycott products illustrative 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)

BERLIN – The German Green party is under fire because of its push in the Bundestag to label Israeli products from the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

Leading German politicians and academic specialists weighed in last week, accusing the Greens of promoting Nazi-style boycotts of Jewish products and ignoring the lessons of the Holocaust.

“The Greens are showing the face of hatred behind their multicultural environmental façade, which conjures up the worst memories,” Dirk Niebel, the Free Democratic Party minister for development in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet, told Die Welt.

Philipp Missfelder, a deputy from the Christian Democratic Union and foreign policy spokesman for the CDU and its sister party, the Christian Social Union, said “the Greens are damaging the German-Israeli relationship.”

The Greens have forgotten German history, he said, in a reference to the boycotts of Jewish business under the Nazis. Missfelder said the Greens should distance themselves from their parliamentary letter that calls for labeling legislation.

Denis MacShane, a former British Labor Party MP and an international expert on anti-Semitism, wrote on his Twitter account, “German Greens support return of ‘Kauf nicht bei Juden’ policy [“Do not buy from Jews”].”

Dr. Matthias Küntzel, a Hamburg-based political scientist and a leading expert on German anti-Semitism, told The Jerusalem Post that “while the Middle East drowns in the attacks of Muslim assassins and attackers, the Green party fraction in the Bundestag cannot get away from its concept of the enemy — Israel. In their parliamentary questionnaire they denigrate the European- Israeli trade relationship, with products from the West Bank seen as a hindrance to peace and as ‘trade against peace.’” He asked, “Do the Green politicians know in which tradition they are moving, when they call on the federal government to boycott Jewish products from the West Bank and the Golan Heights?” The Greens are creating “a new yellow star in the form of a label” for Israeli products, Küntzel said. He slammed the party for not being outraged by Iran’s threats to obliterate Israel and its fixation on products from “Jewish settlements.”

Alexander Hasgall, from the executive board of the "working circle" of Jewish Social Democrats, said the Green Party application can only be understood as a call to boycott Israel and "this will not contribute to the peace process."

The Green party filed in late April a parliamentary questionnaire to the federal government suggesting a need to label Israeli products from the settlements. In a copy of the questionnaire obtained by the Post, the Greens sharply criticize Israel “for not drawing a difference between production sites in Israel and in the borders before 1967 and in the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories [West Bank].”

Frithjof Schmidt, the Green party vice president in the Bundestag, issued a statement on Friday saying, “The Greens reject a boycott of Israeli products.”

Kerstin Müller, a spokeswoman on foreign policy for the Greens in the Bundestag, played a key role in pushing the party action to label West Bank/Golan products. She is slated to become director of the Green party-affiliated Heinrich Böll Foundation’s office in Israel later this year.

Dr. Martin Kloke, an expert on left-wing anti-Semitism in Germany, wrote on the popular blog Die Achse des Guten (“The Axis of Good”) that one does not have to be a friend of Israel’s occupation policies to question why the Greens are preoccupied with Israel while showing no comparative concern with Turkey and its occupation of North Cyprus or the problems in Syria, Iran, Egypt, and the Congo.

Kloke noted that in 1983, the Greens put out a “Green Calendar” with the headline “Israel, the gang of murderers” and calling for a “boycott of goods from Israel.” He urged the Greens to critically examine and work through their “ambivalent role in the history of leftist German anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.”

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