German Green Party activists at a rally in Munich.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN -- A public row over stopping Iran’s nuclear program has caused the youth organization of the second largest opposition party in the Bundestag, The Greens, to criticize its leaders for ignoring Tehran’s threats to Israel’s existence, deteriorating Iranian human rights conditions, and their complicity in preserving Iran’s atomic program.
In a public letter to senior Green MPs, youth group Grüne Jugend wrote that the “deal legitimizes an Iranian atomic program without addressing the human rights situation or that [Iran] retract questioning of Israel’s right to exist. It is for us incomprehensible that the Greens, in such a manner, withdraw criticism of the atomic deal.”
According to the Grüne Jugend website, the organization has approximately 8,000 members as of 2014.
Theresa Kalmer and Erik Marquardt, the signed authors of the letter, who wrote on behalf of the executive board of the Grüne Jugend, said, "It is well known that Iran finances terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or Hamas, which do not recognize Israel’s right to exist." The German Green Party is nominally opposed to nuclear energy.
The decision by Grüne Jugend to participate on a demonstration organized by the pro-Israel NGO Stop the Bomb against German Economic Minister Sigmar Gabriel’s trip to Iran sparked the rifts within the Greens.
Veteran Green Party leaders and MPs, including Claudia Roth and Jürgen Trittin, rebuked Grüne Jugend for joining Stop the Bomb’s protest, stating the group carries out “one-sided and interest-driven polemics.”
After the creation of Stop the Bomb in 2008, Germany’s 110,000-member Central Council of Jews in Germany wrote:” Representatives of Central Council support ‘Stop the Bomb’ campaign.”
German observers say Stop the Bomb has led the fight against Iranian Holocaust denial and its Hezbollah proxy, as well as lethal anti-Semitism in Germany.
Stop the Bomb criticized Claudia Roth and other MPs in January for traveling to Iran. Ulrike Becker, a spokeswoman for Stop the Bomb, said at the time: ”In the face of the current wave of executions in Iran, speaking about 'efforts to open up Iranian society' is brazen. It is a scandal that two weeks after Islamist attacks in Paris, a high-ranking delegation of German parliamentarians is having meetings with terrorists and Holocaust deniers in Iran.”
Roth met with Iran’s parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, who denied the Holocaust at the 2009 Munich Security Conference. Roth did not publicly chastise Larijani’s Holocaust denial. Critics charge Roth with pro-Iranian regime sympathies. She was caught on a Reuters video in 2013 at the Munich Security conference high-fiving Iranian Ambassador Reza Sheikh Attar, whom Iranian Kurdish dissidents accuse of massacring Kurds during his tenure as governor of the Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan provinces between 1980 and 1985.
Jürgen Trittin told German public radio in May that Israel should end its blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. When asked about equipment deliveries for Hamas rockets, he declined to condemn Hamas rocket fire on Israel and said he wants “cement” shipments for Gaza.
He sought enhanced political relations with Hezbollah after the 2006 Second War in Lebanon, and deemed Hezbollah’s role in Lebanon’s politics to be “very positive.”
After Hezbollah murdered five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver in Burgas in 2012, he did not call for Hezbollah to be outlawed in Germany. According to Germany’s June intelligence agency report, there are 950 active Hezbollah members in the Federal Republic.
Grüne Jugend was one of the few political groups in Germany to raise Iran’s human rights record. “People are still hanged in Iran because they are homosexuals, bisexuals, or transsexual or killed because they drank alcohol,” the group noted in a statement.
According to a British government diplomatic dispatch contained in Wikileaks, “between 4,000 and 6,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran for crimes related to their sexual preference since 1979.”
Volker Beck, widely considered an exception within the senior Green Party MP ranks, told German media last weekend that, “Iran’s regime, with its human rights record and denial of Israel’s right to exist, cannot be Germany’s partner.”Grüne Jugend mirrored Beck’s statement: “Also after the atomic deal, Iran’s regime is not a serious negotiation partner.”
Beck is the chairman of the German-Israel parliamentary group. The Central Council of Jews in Germany will award Beck in November its prestigious Leo-Baeck-Prize for his fight against anti-Semitism and hostility to Israel. The president of the Central Council, Josef Schuster, termed Beck’s work as a “model” for combating modern hatred of Jews and Israel.