German Jewish president wants assertive policy against Iran's regime

“I cannot understand the German voting behavior at the UN in any way. It would be good if an optician could readjust German foreign policy in dealing with Iran.”

President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Josef Schuster gives a statement in Wuerzburg, Germany, October 9, 2019 (photo credit: TILMAN BLASSHOFER / REUTERS)
President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Josef Schuster gives a statement in Wuerzburg, Germany, October 9, 2019
(photo credit: TILMAN BLASSHOFER / REUTERS)
The president of Germany’s roughly 100,000 member Jewish community urged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Foreign Ministry to show more toughness against the Islamic Republic of Iran and reverse her top diplomat’s anti-Israel voting record at the UN.
Josef Schuster, the German Jewish community president, on Friday told the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), a Swiss German-language daily newspaper, that "I really expect more bite from German foreign policy" in connection with Merkel’s approach toward the Iranian regime.
He told NZZ reporter Alexander Kissler that the Hamburg city-state government should pull the plug on its cooperation agreement with the Iranian regime-controlled Islamic Center Hamburg.
Kissler asked Schuster about the pro-Israel group German-Israel Friendship Society in Hamburg urging a Hamburg district not to re-nominate MP Niels Annen because he serves as a “door opener for the Iranian mullahs.”
Annen is also a social democratic deputy foreign minister who has shown sympathy for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign targeting Israel. The Bundestag classified BDS as an antisemitic movement last year.
The NZZ journalist questioned Schuster about Germany’s “frequent joint voting with states hostile to Israel” at the UN. 
“I cannot understand the German voting behavior at the UN in any way. It would be good if an optician could readjust German foreign policy in dealing with Iran,” said Schuster.
When asked about the BDS campaign, Schuster said that, “in general, if I may be ironic, it is much more elegant for antisemites not to speak of ‘the Jews’ but of Israel. Of course, the policy of the Israeli government can and may be criticized – as well as the policy of the German government.” 
But he qualified that, saying "if Israel's right to exist is called into question, or if Israel is measured by different standards than all other countries, then it is no longer a legitimate criticism. Some even allow themselves to be carried away to the unspeakable comparison that Israel deals with the Palestinians today as the National Socialists did with the Jews in the past. That is completely absurd.”
He said there is “left-wing antisemitism.”
Schuster declined to answer a Jerusalem Post press query about three German left-wing MPs on the advisory board of a BDS group that calls for the elimination of Israel.

THE PRESIDENT of German's Central Council of Jews has faced criticism over the last few months for turning inward toward political BDS and avoiding criticism of Merkel’s reportedly anti-Israel and pro-Iranian regime policies.
Daniel Killy, a German Jewish journalist and activist, told the Post that “I very much regret that the Central Council is unable to take a position against the BDS ideology of the three MPs. In addition to the free courage to take a stand against classic antisemitism from the far-right, it would be high time to finally recognize that the so-called Palestine solidarity and alleged anti-Zionism are at least equally poisoned forms of antisemitism.”
He added that, "In any case, social blinders and ostentatious silence do not help the Central Council any further! We should also be able to expect leadership against any form of antisemitism from the leadership of German Jewry.” Schuster did not respond to a Post query about Killy’s comment.
The Post exclusively reported in August that Schuster ignored a proposed briefing from a top US government official about the dangers of the Iranian regime, as well as about American efforts to impose snapback sanctions on Tehran to stop the Islamic Republic from purchasing conventional weapons and building a nuclear military device. Merkel’s government did not oppose extending the UN weapons embargo against Tehran.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post at the time that the briefing from the US official “is exactly the kind of information that key European Jewish leaders would want to have in hand on an issue that will impact Jews in Europe and elsewhere in the future. It was disappointing.”
Henryk Broder, the best-selling German-Jewish author who is Germany’s leading expert on antisemitism, asked Schuster if he plans to critically respond to German historian Wolfgang Benz, who denied that BDS is hostile to Jews and antisemitic.
Benz, a historian of antisemitism who honored his Nazi doctoral supervisor Karl Bosl, said that “the BDS movement is not in itself antisemitic. It recommends a political means to achieve a political purpose. It goes against the policy of the State of Israel. It's not about Jews.”
Schuster declined to respond to Broder's query.