German Left Party head calls for Jewish leader to stay out

Head of Germany's Central Council of Jews criticized Ernst's anti-Israel foreign policy; Ernst: Leave party politics.

German Reichstag Parliament_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
German Reichstag Parliament_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
BERLIN – The co-chairman of Germany’s Left Party, Klaus Ernst, called last week for Dr. Dieter Graumann, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, to “leave party politics,” because Graumann sharply criticized what he said is an anti-Israel foreign policy agenda of the party.
Among Left Party politicians, mainly from Western Germany, there is a “rabid, almost pathological hatred of Israel, ” Graumann wrote last week in a news commentary, prompting Ernst, an MP and Bavarian trade union leader, to call for Graumann’s political exclusion.
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Graumann said a number of acts and statements from the Left Party reveal “anti-Semitic traits,” citing, for example, the party’s support for boycotts against Israel.
Ernst accused Graumann of defaming Left Party politicians. The party announced a resolution to blast the “inflationary use of the term ‘anti-Semitism.’” Germany’s Archbishop Robert Zollitsch told Die Welt that Graumann, who is not a politician, “has every right to intervene in politics,” adding, “where there are anti-Semitic tendencies, they must be named.”
Zollitsch said Left Party MPs showed a lack of respect toward Israeli President Shimon Peres during a 2010 Holocaust commemoration event in the Bundestag by refusing to participate in a standing ovation.
“When the state president of Israel speaks in the Bundestag, he represents a nation. And it belongs to respect toward the nation and its representative.”
Zollitsch called for the German Left Party to recognize Israel’s right to exist and support a two-state solution in its platform.
The 60-year-old Graumann represents 105,000 Jews in Germany, and was born in Ramat Gan. He left the Jewish state as a young child, and was raised in Germany.
German Jewish historian Michael Wolffsohn, a distinguished professor at the Universität der Bundeswehr München in Bavaria, wrote on Saturday in a German language commentary in the Financial Times Deutschland that it is either a “lie or stupidity” that the Left Party is merely voicing criticism of Israel. He continued that the “Jewish character of Israel is a thorn in the side of the Left.”