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.
“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
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.