IDF soldiers at Gaza border 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
BERLIN – Stephan J. Kramer, the general secretary of the Central Council of Jews
in Germany, sharply criticized on Sunday Germany’s federal minister of economic
cooperation and development, Dirk Niebel, for exacerbating the issue of Israel’s
denying him entry into Gaza.
Niebel had said the blockade of the Gaza
Strip “is not a sign of strength, but rather evidence of unspoken fear.” This is
“the last chance” for Israel, he said.
Kramer told the Neue Ruhr/Neue
newspaper that Niebel’s statements and posture toward the Israeli
situation are “childish and cynical, given the Israeli victims in Sderot
elsewhere from missile attacks from the Gaza Strip.”
Writing in the daily
on Monday, foreign affairs commentator Clemens Wergin noted,
“Apparently the minister has learned from his former party colleague,
Möllemann, that it’s possible to get into the headlines with even minor
on slow-news weekends. In fact, Niebel was able to present himself on
television news show] heute journal as a humanitarian fighter for
justice and to
score points with the Israel-skeptical German population, which would
have noticed the minister’s trip without this staged scandal.”
Möllemann died in what appeared to be a skydiving suicide in 2003. His
mass-mailing of election flyers bashing former prime minister Ariel
caused a political nadir between the Free Democrats, Niebel’s party, and
during the 2002 Federal election.
Möllemann’s campaign strategy was
widely viewed as the first public use of anti-Semitism to win over
the Hitler movement. The Free Democrats have made efforts to rid their
hardcore anti-Israeli sentiments since Möllemann.
Niebel is vice
president of the German-Israeli friendship society, and told the Post
that he supports a ban of Hizbullah, which remains a legal political
organization in Germany and has 900 active members.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday there is “no strain” in the
very trusted” relationship with Israel. However, she and German Foreign
Guido Westerwelle supported Niebel’s decision to travel to Gaza.
recent statements resonated with the liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung
noted in an editorial on Monday that Israel’s decision to deny Niebel
Gaza is “an imperially arbitrary act of an empire.”