(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN - Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan blasted German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Tuesday for comparing the Jewish State's policies in the disputed West Bank territory to the former racist apartheid system in South Africa.
Erdan told The Jerusalem Post that "The statement that Israel is reminiscent of apartheid South Africa is not only totally false, but it also delegitimizes and demonizes the Jewish state. The line between such delegitimization and antisemitism is very thin. It is no surprise that Hamas, an antisemitic organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel, happily tweeted the statement. All those interested in promoting peace and opposing hatred in the region must reject such an outrageous comparison."
Erdan's criticism of Gabriel comes after outrage over the fact that the words of the foreign minister are now being utilized by a terror organization
for propaganda purposes.
In response to a Post
article on Saturday on Gabriel's statement, Hamas wrote on its official English Twitter Sunday, "German FM describes the Israeli occupation as an apartheid regime like the one was in South Africa." [sic]
Gabriel told a group of Muslim immigrants in Berlin in December that he had previously criticized Israel. The German top diplomat reiterated this in a 2012 Facebook post, following his visit to Hebron, in which he wrote: “I was just in Hebron. There’s a legal vacuum there for Palestinians. This is an apartheid regime, for which there is no justification.”
The German foreign ministry did not walk back Gabriel's criticism of the Jewish State in an email statement to the Post
Social media was abuzz on Sunday after Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist entity by both the United States and the European Union, used Gabriel's anti-Israel remarks to boost their goals.
Oliver Luksic, a deputy of the Free Democratic party in the Bundestag, wrote on Twitter: "The terroristic Hamas now references the German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel. The German bashing of Israel is intolerable."
Aras-Nathan Keul, an executive board member of the youth organization of the German-Israel friendship society, wrote on his Twitter feed: "The German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel receives applause from the terror organization Hamas. He can easily change that when he apologizes for the apartheid comparison against Israel and explains why this [the comparison] is false."
Prominent German-Jewish activist Malca Goldstein-Wolf wrote in a December public letter to Gabriel that he was “providing further ammunition to youths who were fed antisemitism with their mothers’ milk."
Arsen Ostrovsky, the executive director of The Israeli-Jewish Congress (IJC), wrote on on Twitter: "He's done it again! German FM Sigmar Gabriel reiterates [his] outrageous comparison of Israel as 'apartheid regime.' How long will Merkel tolerate this?"
Gabriel, who frequently boasts about his anti-fascist credentials because he rejected his father's hardcore Nazism, has been engulfed in a number of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel scandals, say his critics.
“There are two central narratives to Jewish history in the 20th century – the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel. Sigmar Gabriel has already tried to undermine the core of each of them,” Dr. Efraim Zuroff, head of the Jerusalem Office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post
“By falsely claiming that Israel is an ‘apartheid state,’ he denies its democratic basis, which is a central tenet of Israeli statehood since its establishment, and legitimizes unjust attacks on the Jewish state for sins committed on a regular basis by all its neighbors but not by Israel,” he said.
Zuroff, the organization’s chief Nazi hunter, added, “In the past, Gabriel claimed that Social Democrats suffered the same fate as Jews during the Third Reich, a ridiculous assertion with no basis in fact, that undermines the uniqueness of the Holocaust and falsely relativizes the uniquely horrific fate of European Jewry at the hands of the Nazis and their helpers.”
The German foreign ministry said Gabriel sent a clear message against antisemitism and that “antisemitism has no place in Germany.”