German Jews slam party for working with Fatah

Central Council of Jews in Germany condemn Social Democrats for "strategic relationship" with "terrorist organization."

Bundestag 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)
Bundestag 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)
BERLIN – The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany blasted the country’s second-largest political party, the Social Democrats (SPD), for forming a “strategic partnership” with Fatah.
“The SPD works with a terror organization, which has called for hate and agitation against Jews,” said Dr. Dieter Graumann, the head of Germany’s Jews, in the Bild newspaper on Monday. He added that the SPD “should be ashamed of itself“ for its alliance with the Palestinian faction.
SPD general secretary Andrea Nahles issued a joint paper declaring that her party and Fatah had engaged in a “strategic dialogue” and shared “common values.” She and the SPD leadership welcomed a delegation of Fatah members last week to the party’s Berlin headquarters, the Willy Brandt Haus.
Bild sub-headlined its story, “Fatah is considered hostile to Israel and representatives of the organization continuously deliver anti-Semitic speeches.”
According to the newspaper, SPD head Sigmar Gabriel was irritated about Graumann’s accusations.
“I don’t understand the criticism,” said Gabriel, who rejected Graumann’s accusation and noted that Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas had recognized Israel’s right to exist and been the negotiating partner of many Israeli governments.
Graumann called on SPD chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrück to distance himself from the party’s alliance with Fatah.
“The statement of common values is a scandal,” said the Jewish leader, adding that he hoped the Social Democrats knew what type of organization Fatah was.
He also cast doubt on the SPD’s leadership ability, saying, “This SPD is entirely not suitable for governing.”
Critics in Germany accuse the Social Democrats under Nahles and Gabriel of stoking anti-Israel bias. Gabriel said earlier this year during a visit to Israel and the West Bank that the Jewish state was an “apartheid regime.”
He has also defended author Günter Grass, who blamed Israel in April for being the chief impediment to international peace and dismissed Iran’s threats to wipe the Jewish state off the map.
Responding to Graumann’s criticism, Gabriel said Fatah was an internationally recognized negotiating partner and that the radical Islamist Hamas “would not be a good alternative.”
He said the SPD had cultivated contact with Fatah over the years and that the rejection of violence, the recognition of Israel’s right to exist and the desire for a Palestinian state formed the basis of the two parties’ relationship.
He added that Fatah was part of the values of social democracy and was represented in the European coalition of social democrats as an observer partner.
Reinhold Robbe, a member of the SPD and the head of the German-Israeli Friendship Society (DIG), has not issued a comment. DIG director Hildegard Radhauer said on Tuesday that she was certain Robbe would respond.
Robbe has come under fire for failing to confront anti-Israel sentiments within his party.