The head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, on Thursday meted out scathing criticism at the executive board of the German Left party for blaming only the Jewish state in its resolution against IDF measures in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The anti-Israel resolution is part of the “antisemitic, anti-Zionist elements” of the German Left and is “fulfilling a long tradition of hatred of Jews,” Zuroff told The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview.
Zuroff, the Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter, added that the German Left party “attributes all of the blame to Israel. This is typical of the extreme Left’s unreasonable criticism of Israel.”
“I would like to see if Germany were in the same situation. I am fairly certain they would respond in the same way as Israel, or more severely, if civilian targets were under fire by dozens of missiles,” Zuroff said.
He noted that the radical Islamic group Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israel are “in line with their declared intention to destroy the state of Israel.”
The Left party titled its resolution:”For an end of the occupation and the blockade of Gaza” and said Israel produced a “massacre in Gaza.”
Israel unilaterally withdrew from the coastal enclave in 2005, uprooting 8,000 people from 21 settlements. Hamas, classified by the US and EU as a terrorist organization, has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007 when it seized power in a coup.
The Left party further condemned Israel in its resolution for the “violent approach of the Israeli government and the Israeli military against the majority of peaceful mass protests of the Palestinians in Gaza in the course of the Great March of Return, which started on March 30.”
The Left party members of parliament urged the German government to condemn the attacks of Israeli soldiers and called for an independent international investigation into Israel’s conduct.
The German Left party is a successor party to a post Berlin Wall party (PDS) that largely arose out of the East German state’s Socialist Unity Party. The now-defunct Socialist Unity Party was a declared enemy of the Jewish state, and enabled weapons deliveries to Israel’s Arab enemies during the Cold War.
Sonja Giese, a spokeswoman for the Left party’s executive board, wrote the Post on Friday in the name of the party’s top executive members Katja Kipping, Bernd Riexinger and Jörg Schindler.
Giese wrote that the resolution “is not a change in our basic position and does not have the character of a comprehensive position to the Middle East conflict.”
The spokeswoman said the party reaffirmed its view that Israel has a right to exist in a conversation with the Central Council of Jews in Germany in 2016. Giese wrote, “We also criticize the violations of human rights from the Palestinian side and especially the terror acts from religious-fundamental groups like Hamas.”
She added that the resolution addresses the high number of victims that took place in the course of the Great March of Return. “That Hamas itself has played a significant role (and always continues) in the escalation of violence does not release the security forces of a democratic state like Israel from the restriction of proportionality.”
There is some minor dissent within the Left party over the anti-Israel resolution. A co-chairperson of the Left party in the Bundestag, Dietmar Bartsch, emailed the Post: “I don’t share this board decision.” He said “every form of antisemitism in the Left will be decisively fought.”
Bartsch added that choice of “our first foreign trip as party chair representatives took us to Israel,” and that he visited Israel this year.
In an email to the Post from Sahra Wagenknecht, the other co-chair of the Left party in the Bundestag, wrote that she traveled with Bartsch to Israel in 2016 and “The Left fights antisemitism and racism.”
Bartsch and Wagenknecht met with President Reuven Rivlin at the time.
Wagenknecht declined to comment on the resolution. She, along with party board member Christine Bucholz, refused to participate in a 2010 standing ovation for former president Shimon Peres on Holocaust Remembrance Day in the Bundestag.
Buchholz and Wagenknecht criticized Peres for spreading the “untruth” about Iran’s drive to build nuclear weapons.
Wagenknecht and Buchholz’s refusal to participate in the standing ovation for Peres was praised by Germany’s NPD neo-Nazi party.
Buchholz reportedly supports Palestinian terrorism against Israel as a legitimate form of “resistance.” She is a zealous campaigner for the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah and Hamas.
Claudia Haydt is also on the Left party’s executive board. In 2014, the Wiesenthal Center included her along with fellow Left German politicians Annette Groth, Heike Hänsel and Inge Höger on its list of top 10 outbreaks of antisemitism and anti-Israelism during the year.
Benjamin Krüger, a party member of the Left party, who has over the years sought to stymie antisemitism within the party, wrote a detailed rejoinder to the anti-Israel resolution on his Facebook page. He called the resolution description of “peaceful mass protests” as a straightforward “lie” because there is documented material that shows the entire action was planned by Hamas.
He wrote that party’s description of a “massacre in Gaza” meets the contemporary definition of antisemitism (demonization, delegitimization and double standard applied to Israel) as formulated by the former head of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky.
In an article on the website of the Austrian think tank Mena-Watch, the German journalist Alex Feuerherdt and antisemitism expert concluded, “The Left party is the parliamentary spearhead of anti-Zionism in Germany and the party has not only an antisemitism problem. The party is, in fact, itself one.”
Volker Beck, a German Green Party politician, who is currently in Jerusalem, told the Post the Left party’s resolution is “one-sided and beyond irresponsibility.”
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