Kadima MK calls on German gov’t to confront Iran

Yohanan Plesner hopes "Germany will have the guts and wisdom to send a clear message,” because Germany and Israel share the same values.

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November 2, 2010 04:22
4 minute read.
Yohanan Plesner

YOHANAN PLESNER. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

FRANKFURT – Kadima’s director-general and MK Yohanan Plesner told over 1,000 Israel supporters on Sunday at a historic German conference titled Together for Israel, devoted exclusively to promoting solidarity and security for the Jewish state, that “we need a Germany that not only talks the talk, but a Germany that will face the Iranian threat.”

Plesner echoed the criticisms of many of the speakers and participants who argued that the German government was not meeting its international responsibility to stop Iran’s alleged drive to obtain nuclear weapons.

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“German companies are profiting from Iran,” Plesner said. “It is in Germany’s interest – not only morally and ethically – to face Iran before it becomes a nuclear threat. This is a real threat, and this real threat requires real action.”

He added that he hopes that “Germany will have the guts and wisdom to send a clear message,” because Germany and Israel share the same values.

Speaking to a diverse group of over 80 organizations including pro-Israel Christian groups, Yoram Ben-Ze’ev, Israel’s ambassador to Germany, declared that this was the first time that he had “spoken in front of so many friends of Israel in Germany.”

Ben-Ze’ev criticized the “tendency in Germany to delegitimize” Israel and the “negative reporting” about the Jewish state in German press.

In addition to Iran’s foreign policy, a German parliamentary resolution from July, which many observers view as tainted by anti-Israeli bias, dominated many of the conference panels and discussions at the Frankfurt event. The resolution, which was passed unanimously by all German parties, called for an independent investigation of the violence on the Mavi Marmara and an immediate end to the blockade of Gaza. The resolution slammed Israel for allegedly violating the principle of proportionality during the May 31 incident in which nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli naval commandos who were violently attacked while boarding the ship.

Gitta Connemann, an MP from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) who voted for the resolution, said “it cannot be the message of this event that the German Bundestag is positioned fundamentally against Israel.”

Connemann and MP Jerzy Montag, a Green Party MP who passionately defended the resolution, are members of the German-Israeli parliamentary group set up to foster greater cooperation between the two countries.

Montag and Connemann were noticeably irritated by the criticisms of the pro-Israeli crowd, including Jochen Feilcke, the head of the German-Israeli friendship society in Berlin Potsdam, and Prof. Gert Weisskirchen, a former Social Democratic Party MP and leading expert on European anti-Semitism.

Feilcke reminded the German lawmakers that Merkel had told the Knesset in 2008 that Germany should not provide “advice” from outside and interfere in Israel’s security objectives.

Feilcke, a former CDU MP, termed the resolution “counterproductive, and it does not serve the security interests” of Israel. Weisskirchen said “it is not the function of the Bundestag” to attack Israel, and he could not recall a time in which such a “turning point” in terms of German-Israeli relations took place.

Israeli diplomats have previously criticized Montag for his pro-Palestinian advocacy work instead of focusing on his role as chairman of parliamentary group devoted to advancing Israel’s security.

Lothar Klein, a CDU city councilman from Dresden and former MEP, explained the support of resolution as coming because “many of the members of the German parliament orient themselves toward public opinion,” which is largely anti-Israel.

Klein, one of the key supporters of Israel in the state of Saxony in eastern Germany, criticized Germany for being the “most important trade partner of Iran.”

Montag’s attempts to defend the resolution prompted a wave of boos from the packed auditorium. His fellow Green Party MP Volker Beck, who also voted for the resolution, was met with displeasure from the audience for his focus on lifting the Gaza blockade and criticizing Israeli settlements during his talk.

Responding to Beck, Sacha Stawski, the key organizer of the conference, defended the blockade and said the “background of the Gaza blockade is not mentioned,” adding that Israel could not allow weapons to be delivered to Hamas, an act which the blockade prevents.

Ben-Ze’ev insisted that “the settlements are not the main problem.”

Stawski told The Jerusalem Post that “we wanted to send a signal outside and inside that Israel is not alone.”

Dieter Graumann, vice president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews in Germany and probable successor to its current president, Charlotte Knobloch, sharply criticized German MPs for visiting Iran in October and meeting with regime figures who repress women. Graumann singled out Claudia Roth, who purports to be a feminist but said that she had subjugated herself to the mullahs by wearing a head scarf. He called the German legislators’ trip a “scandal” for meeting with Teheran’s parliamentary chairman, Ali Larijani, who denied the Holocaust in Munich in 2009, and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who opened the Holocaust denial conference in 2006.

Graumann called the German-Iranian trade relationship a “disgrace” because Germany was conducting flourishing business with the “world champion of anti-Semitism.” Graumann said the German Green Party informed him that “if we do not conduct business with the Iranians then others will do it.”

He insisted there was a “wall of silence” among German politicians from all parties and in trade associations about their business deals with the Iranian regime.


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