Berlin mayor to host Iranian counterpart who called for Israel's demise

Michael Müller is facing criticism for failing to curb rising antisemitism in the German capital by hosting a meeting on Friday with Tehran’s mayor Pirouz Hanachi.

September 5, 2019 16:44
2 minute read.
Berlin Mayor Michael Müller

Berlin Mayor Michael Müller. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Berlin Mayor Michael Müller is again facing criticism for failing to curb rising antisemitism in the German capital by hosting a meeting on Friday with Tehran’s mayor Pirouz Hanachi, who has participated in a rally calling for Israel’s destruction.

Stephan Grigat, academic director of the organization Stop the Bomb – which seeks to end the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program – blasted Müller on Wednesday for his upcoming meeting in Berlin with “Hanachi and the ambassador of the antisemitic Iranian terror regime on Friday in the Red City Hall.”

Stop the Bomb noted that Hanachi recently participated in an Iranian-sponsored Al-Quds rally that propagates the obliteration of the Jewish state. He said one cannot chat with representatives of the Iranian regime and ignore Tehran’s “hatred of Israel, massive human rights violations and support of terror.”

According to Iran’s state-controlled press outlet ISNA, Hanachi was a former member of the US sanctioned terrorist organization, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC].

The IRGC paid convicted Pakistani agent Haidar Syed-Naqfi at least €2,052 from July 2015 through July 2016 to spy on Jewish and pro-Israel figures and institutions. According to German authorities, his actions were “a clear indication of an assassination attempt.”

Remko Leemhuis, assistant director for policy and public affairs for the American Jewish Committee office in Berlin, also took the mayor to task for his planned welcome of Hanachi and Iran’s ambassador to Germany, Mahmoud Farazandeh.

“We cannot accept the fact that in Berlin, of all places, representatives of a regime will be welcomed that are threatening Israel with its destruction and financially massively supporting the terrorist group Hezbollah, which poses a massive threat to the Jewish community and the security of the capital,” said Leemhuis.

He added that Müller sends the wrong signal to all of those people in Germany who are fighting antisemitism on a daily basis. Leemhuis said the mayor is undermining projects and efforts that work to combat antisemitism because he is hosting a “representative of a regime that denies the Holocaust.”

The Kurdish community of Germany tweeted on Wednesday: “How can it be that Berlin’s governing mayor, Michael Müller, receives an ex-member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard?” The Kurdish community wrote that Müller’s Social Democratic Party of Germany “once stood for the oppressed and against fascists…A shame!”

When asked about the criticism on Twitter, Müller’s feed sent a series of tweets to The Jerusalem Post defending the planned meeting with Hanachi. Müller said the meeting was a result of a positive assessment by the Foreign Ministry. “Of course, the governing mayor will also use the meeting to underline the state of Israel’s right to exist and highlight Berlin’s special relationship with Israel,” said the mayor’s Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center considered including Müller on its top-10 list of worst outbreaks of antisemitism in 2017, because the mayor was indifferent to the antisemitic BDS campaign and growing Jew-hatred in the city. The Wiesenthal Center opted not to include Müller after he condemned BDS, and said that city space will not be provided to pro-BDS advocates.

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