BERLIN – The German Left party, which appears to have used taxpayer euros to send two of its Bundestag members aboard the Mavi Marmara last May to break the blockade of Gaza, is engulfed in a scandal because one of its top leaders called for the introduction of communism last week.“We can only find the ways to communism if we get started and try them out, whether in the opposition or in the government,” Gesine Lötzsch, the Left Party’s co-president, wrote last week in the Berlinbased daily junge Welt. Her comments about the reintroduction of communism in Germany triggered criticism from many of the mainstream parties.The Christian Social Union – the Bavarian sister party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union – called for the Left Party to be outlawed.The Social Democratic Party questioned the Left Party’s self-proclaimed democratic orientation.Maya Zehden, spokeswoman for the 12,000-member Berlin Jewish community, told The Jerusalem Post that representatives of her organization met with Lötzsch last year after the Gaza flotilla seizure to express the community’s criticism of her decision to greet the two Left Party Bundestag members, Inge Höger and Annette Groth, with flowers at a press conference after their return to Germany.Höger, Groth and former Left Party deputy Norman Paech were aboard the Mavi Marmara.Zehden termed Lötzsch’s position toward Israel “hostile.”According to Zehden, Lötzsch, a member of the Socialist Unity Party in the former German Democratic Republic, said anti- Semitism was nonexistent in the former East Germany.The German Democratic Republic refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist between 1949 and 1989. American historian Jeffrey Herf documented a wave of repression and surveillance against Jews during the early 1950s in East Germany, prompting Jews to flee.Peter Tauber, a Bundestag member from the Christian Democratic Union, told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper last week that the positions of two Left Party deputies, Christine Buchholz and Wolfgang Gehrcke, the party’s foreign policy spokesman, are “hostile to Israel and anti- Semitic” and comparable to those of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD).Buchholz and Gehrcke denied being anti-Semitic. Gehrcke has appeared over the years at pro-Hamas and pro-Hizbullah rallies. Buchholz has justified violent “resistance” against Israel and rejected a Left Party document outlining Israel’s right to exist.The Left Party’s membership is an amalgamation of disillusioned West German trade unionists and social democrats, and Stalinists and former members of the Stasi secret police from East Germany. It is the fourth largest party in the Bundestag, with 76 of the Bundestag’s 622 deputies. The party co-governs the city of Berlin with the Social Democrats, forming the so-called “red-red coalition.”Oskar Lafontaine, chairman of the Social Democratic Party from 1995-1999, defected to the Left Party and enabled it to score victories in West German state parliamentary elections. Lafontaine has praised the “interface between Islam and the German left.”There has been growing contact over the years between the Left Party and the State of Israel.Petra Pau, a vice president of the Left Party and a Bundestag deputy, has visited Israel a number of times and supports a ban against German-Iranian trade in order to advance Israel’s security.One of the party’s top leaders, Gregor Gysi, the son of a German Jew, has advocated the party stripping all vestiges of anti-Zionism from its platform and philosophy.He distanced himself from Lötzsch’s call for communism because it recalls “Stalin and Mao and the Wall,” a reference to the Berlin Wall that separated communist East Berlin from democratic West Berlin.The party opened an office of its Rosa Luxemburg Foundation think tank in Tel Aviv in 2009 to promote its ideology. It also opened an office in Ramallah.According to its Tel Aviv website, the Luxemburg Foundation “is a forum for dialogue between progressive forces, social movements and organizations, left-wing intellectuals and NGOs, in Germany, Europe and the wider international level.”German academic Dr. Angelika Timm, a fluent Hebrew speaker who heads the foundation in Tel Aviv, was herself a scholar of Middle East affairs in East Germany and a proponent of the official, distorted East German version of events in the Middle East.Separately, Reinhold Robbe, the new head of the German-Israeli friendship society, sharply criticized former Social Democratic development minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul for her call that the EU recognize an independent Palestinian state. Robbe, who is also a Social Democrat, said Wieczorek-Zeul’s statements are “irresponsible” and a “naive assessment” of the Middle East political situation. She called on the EU to have the “courage” to recognize an independent Palestinian state independent of the United States.Robbe said that Wieczorek-Zeul ignores the background of the dispute because there are two separate Palestinian regions that are hostile toward each other. He added that “as long as rockets continue to be fired from Gaza at innocent civilians in Israel, there can be no progress in the peace process.”The Central Council of Jews in Germany sparred verbally with Wieczorek-Zeul during her tenure, accusing her of depicting Israel as the “aggressor” during the second War in Lebanon.During the first administration of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2005- 2009) – the grand coalition between the Social Democrats and Conservatives – Wieczorek-Zeul faced charges of anti- Semitism for her intense criticism of the Jewish state. Charlotte Knobloch said in 2009 that Wieczorek-Zeul was stoking anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli sentiments in Germany.