German-Arab trade group under fire for boycott of Israel

President of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group, calls for inquiry into the practice of the group.

Boycott Israel sign (photo credit: REUTERS)
Boycott Israel sign
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Volker Beck, a senior Green Party deputy in the Bundestag, called for an inquiry into the practices of the Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry because they enable the boycott of Israel.
Beck, who is president of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group, wrote the Merkel administration on Tuesday, asking what knowledge the federal government has concerning a “boycott of Israeli products” and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s practices.
“How does the federal government assess the [Arab-German Chamber of Commerce] practice of issuing a certificate that no work was conducted with Israel [concerning a product for export]?” Beck asked.
Der Spiegel reported on Sunday that “Ghorfa [the Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry] is controversial because it is suspected of supporting the boycott of Israeli products by many Arab states.” The chamber’s new head is Peter Ramsauer, a Bundestag deputy from the Christian Social Union and chairman of the legislature’s economic committee.
He served as minister of transport, building and urban development in the second Merkel cabinet.
“The engagement of former transportation minister Peter Ramsauer (CSU) as head of the Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry is causing trouble,” according to Der Spiegel.
In an email to The Jerusalem Post, Deidre Berger, the head of the American Jewish Committee office in Berlin, asked, “How is it possible that the German government accords the highest priority to the German-Israeli relationship while a German-Arab trade association earns money certifying that German firms do not trade with Israel?”
She added, “And this from an organization headed by a former member of the German cabinet. We call on Ghorfa and its director Peter Ramsauer to stop undermining German-Israeli relations and put the brakes on this outrageous practice immediately!” Ramsauer’s CSU is the sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christians Democratic Union and part of the governing coalition.
Ramsauer sparked criticism in June because of his comments supporting trade with Iran. He told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper that we must show “Iran our true colors, that we have an interest” in doing business with it.
He added that you need a political door-opener in international competition in order to survive in the Iranian market.
Ramsauer’s tenure as transportation minister in Merkel’s cabinet was marked by controversy regarding Israel.
He joined pro-Palestinian deputies in the Bundestag in 2011, terminating the Deutsche Bahn railway company’s participation in a long-planned Israeli railway project connecting Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, because the route entered the West Bank.
“This Israeli railway project, which runs through occupied territory, is problematic from a foreign policy standpoint and is potentially against international law,” Ramsauer said. He earns €84,000 per year as the head of the Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry.