A candidate for mayor of Duisburg, a German city with some 500,000 residents in North Rhine-Westphalia state, is promoting a campaign to boycott Israeli merchandise. "Each one of us can contribute, for example by boycotting Israeli products, to increasing pressure for different policies," the regional daily Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) quoted Hermann Dierkes, the Left Party mayoral candidate, as saying. The Left Party, which is an amalgam of former East German communists and West German trade unionists and leftists, is the fourth largest in the Bundestag and has scored a series of regional election victories of late. Dieter Graumann, vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the mass circulation daily Bild, "The hatred of Israel that comes from the former East Germany is still alive and is nurtured by the Left Party, especially in the west [of Germany]. It is a bit of pure anti-Semitism. A bit of moral degeneracy and lack of scruple." Dr. Werner Jurga, the deputy director of the German-Israeli Friendship Society, told the WAZ, "I would continue to describe him [Dierkes] as an anti-Semite." While saying he was aware of the Nazi slogan, "Germans, do not buy from Jews," Dierkes defended his boycott demand and said his district party chapter in Duisburg was supporting him. Duisburg has been a hotbed of anti-Israeli sentiments. In early January, during the IDF offensive against Hamas in Gaza, Duisburg police officials triggered an international scandal by confiscating Israeli flags from a private apartment. More than 10,000 anti-Israeli protesters, many chanting anti-Semitic slogans, marched through Duisburg and pelted Israeli flags hanging from a balcony with stones and other objects before police took the flags.