German Jews outraged over mayor's support for 'Hamas' event

Wuppertal Jewish community blast Mayor Peter Jung for renting space to Palestinian anti-Israel "terrorist" conference.

By JPOST CORRESPONDENT
May 11, 2011 01:57
3 minute read.
Wuppertal Mayor Peter Jung.

german mayor peter jung_311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

BERLIN – A German mayor’s defense of a radical pro-Palestinian conference in his city supported by Hamas advocates prompted a fresh wave of criticism on Tuesday.

Israel’s Embassy in Berlin blasted Saturday’s ninth “Palestinians in Europe”conference, titled “The Generation of Return Knows Its Way.” The conference, held in Wuppertal, has ties to “terrorist organizations,” the embassy said.

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Mayor Peter Jung’s conduct is “shameful,” said Leonid Goldberg, the chairman of Wuppertal’s Jewish community, in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

That the mayor did not comment on the anti-Israel conference suggests he finds “everything to be fine,” Goldberg said.

When asked about Jung, a member of the conservative Christian Democratic Union, and his decision to rent out a city-funded convention space to Hamas-related groups, Yinam Cohen, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy, told the Post, “We regret very much that Palestinian extremists, some of whom clearly identify with terrorist organizations such as Hamas, chose to abuse freedom of speech in Germany and to spread extremist and anti-Israeli messages in Germany.”

Jung’s decision to provide space for the conference has strained relations between the local Wuppertal Jewish community and the mayor.

The embassy also took notice of the unusual decision of a city government to go to great lengths to support a pro-Hamas event.

Goldberg told the Post that conference activities were “anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic” in nature. When “someone calls for the return” of millions of Arabs to Israel, that means the plan is to decimate Israel’s existence, he said.

Goldberg said there were maps of Israel on display at the conference showing only Palestine without Israel and slogans accusing Israel of “murdering children.” Goldberg complained bitterly that Jung and the city council did not reach out to the Jewish community prior to the conference. Goldberg said the city could have denied space to conference organizers but chose not to.

In an e-mail to the Post on Tuesday, Dr. Dieter Graumann, the head of Germany’s 105,000 member Central Council of Jews, wrote that the conference in Wuppertal is “reprehensible and loathsome.” He added that “members of the Left Party [who] once again participated shows anew how strong the pathological hatred of Israel is in the Party.”

Left Party MPs participated in the Gaza Flotilla last year and local Left Party politicians have called for a boycott campaign against Israel.

In an initial telephone interview with the Post,Martina Eckermann, a spokeswoman for the mayor, cast doubt on Goldberg’s criticism of Jung and Wuppertal in the German press. She denied seeing any anti- Semitic literature or photos at the conference. Eckermann did not return multiple phone calls made on Tuesday regarding Goldberg’s comments blasting Jung.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, Graumann told the Post he declined to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas last week in Germany because of Abbas’ decision to unify his Fatah party with Hamas. Abbas met last week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, and requested a meeting with Graumann.

In a Deutschland Radio interview last week, Graumann termed Hamas a “murderous, high criminal, brutal and bloody terror group.” Grauman added that he does not view Hamas as a peace partner because of the group’s determination to destroy Israel. He said he did not want to legitimize Hamas by accepting Abbas’s invitation.


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