Left-wing anti-Semitism triggers German gov't debate

Discussion addressed what many consider to be the dominant form of modern anti-Semitism in the federal republic: the loathing of Israel.

By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
May 27, 2011 02:16
3 minute read.
Symbols of the Holocaust.

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BERLIN – The academic study titled “Anti-Semites as a Coalition Partner,” which sharply criticizes entrenched left-wing anti-Semitic and anti-Israel attitudes within the German Left Party, sparked a heated debate in the Bundestag on Wednesday.

The debate addressed what many experts consider to be the dominant form of modern anti- Semitism in the federal republic: the loathing of the Jewish state.

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Hans-Peter Uhl, from the Bavarian- based Christian Social Union, a sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, accused the Left Party on Wednesday of “fishing for votes in anti-Semitic voter groups.”

A telling example was the Left Party deputy Inge Höger, who appeared in May at a pro- Hamas conference in Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia, wearing a keffiyeh showing a map labeled “Palestine” on the entire territory of the State of Israel. She spoke about the “misuse of the Holocaust” in silencing criticism of Israel’s “occupation policies.”

The study was written before the Left Party’s new wave of aggressive anti-Israel actions, including calls to boycott the Jewish state in March and April and Höger’s appearance in Wuppertal.

“A power has established itself within the parliamentary spectrum of the Left Party, which tolerates anti-Semitic positions,” political scientists Samuel Salzborn from the University of Giessen and Sebastian Voigt from the University of Leipzig wrote in their study about rising hatred of Israel among Left Party politicians.

The Frankfurter Rundschau first published the conclusions of the Voigt and Salzborn study last week, prompting a minor media sensation and angry responses from Left Party leaders. The Frankfurt-based daily’s website provides a link to the report.

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According to the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Gregor Gysi, a top Left Party deputy, termed as “nonsense” the study’s main conclusion – that anti-Semitism is spreading among the party’s politicians and members.

“We do not need any instructions from outside,” Left Party co-chairman Klaus Ernst said in the daily Westfälische Rundschau.

However, Bodo Ramelow, the Left’s leader in the Thuringian state parliament and one of the party’s dissenting voices, told the Tageszeitung daily, “When a Catholic cardinal revokes a gay religion teacher’s permission to teach, the indignation in the Left Party is, rightly, great. But when gays in the Gaza Strip fear for their lives, I don’t hear anything from the same indignant people. That’s a problem.”

In the Bundestag on Wednesday, Left Party deputy Lukrezia Jochimsen said “calls to boycott” Israel are not acceptable.

However, Left Party politicians in Duisburg and Bremen, as well as Bundestag deputies, have either called to boycott the Jewish state or participated in activities with groups that energetically campaign to delegitimize and boycott Israel.

The Left Party’s foreign policy spokesman, deputy Wolfgang Gehrcke, has attended pro- Hamas and pro-Hezbollah rallies in Germany, and compared Israel’s policies with those of the Third Reich.

Leading members of the Left Party have over the years waged an anti-Israel campaign. Deputy Christine Buchhloz was a member of the party’s “Shift to the Left” faction, which supports the “legitimate resistance” of Hamas and Hezbollah in their terrorist attacks against Israel. She has played down the Iranian threat against Israel.

She and Left Party Vice President Sahra Wagenknecht criticized President Shimon Peres in January 2010, 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 during his Holocaust remembrance speech in the Bundestag was praised by Germany’s NPD neo- Nazi party.

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