German pro-Israel group labeled 'Mossad front'

Top lawmaker makes remark to pro-Israel group member giving out flyers near Reichstag.

German Parliament building 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy of Daniel Schwen)
German Parliament building 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy of Daniel Schwen)
Renate Künast, the head of one of Germany's main political parties, the Green Party, recently attacked the nonpartisan Stop the Bomb group as a front for Israeli intelligence, according to a member of the German-Israeli friendship society of Berlin-Potsdam (DIG). Thomas Hemberger, of DIG, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday that while he was distributing Stop the Bomb flyers behind the Reichstag building earlier this month, Künast told him: "That is a Mossad organization." Stop the Bomb, which seeks to end Iran's nuclear weapons program and to promote a democratic Iran, has chapters in Germany and Austria. Stop the Bomb is supported by a wide spectrum of politicians, intellectuals and academics in Central Europe. Charlotte Knobloch, the head of the 120,000-member Central Council of Jews in Germany, as well as Stephan J. Kramer, the council's secretary-general, champion the cause of Stop the Bomb. "The accusation is not true," Christoph Schmitz, a spokesman for Künast, told the Post. While repeatedly denying that Künast termed Stop the Bomb a "Mossad organization," Schmitz said that Künast "spoke from a suspicion" that the exile Iranian organization, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is behind Stop the Bomb. According to Schmitz, the Green Party discussed during a party session last month the allegation that the National Council supports Stop the Bomb. When asked if the Post could review the transcript from the session, Schmitz declined to provide the document because it was an "internal" meeting. He offered no evidence that the National Council supports Stop the Bomb. Hemberger said that as Künast entered her limousine outside the Reichstag, she told him that Stop the Bomb "is not entirely kosher." Jochen Feilcke, president of the Berlin-Potsdam German-Israeli friendship society and a former Christian Democratic Union deputy, told the Post there is a "reflexive reaction" from Green Party members when they discuss Israel. If Künast labeled Stop the Bomb a "Mossad organization," then her intention was to "defame" the work of Stop the Bomb, Feilcke said. While stressing the important role of the Mossad in protecting the lives of Israelis, Feilcke sees a "discriminatory" motive in Künast's alleged characterization of Stop the Bomb. The Web site of the Berlin-Potsdam DIG displays a Stop the Bomb logo and link to the group's Web site. Characterizing "decisive opponents of the Iranian regime as Mossad agents and warmongers" is a standard tactic of the Greens to "sidetrack the demand for sanctions" against the Iranian regime, said Michael Spaney, a spokesman for the German chapter of Stop the Bomb. He said the Greens are employing the "the same method that the Iranian regime uses to denounce us." "With their refusal to stand up for German sanctions against Iran, the Greens are in the process of losing their status as a human rights party," said Spaney. He added that the Greens are failing to see the "suffering that dictators in the Middle East are causing to their populations," and that the Greens' world view sees "aggression coming only from the West." Referring to Iran's No. 1 European trade partner, the Federal Republic, Spaney said that "Germany, with its exports in the hi-technology sector, is supporting the Iranian regime, and the Greens are ignoring that." The Green Party has had hardcore anti-Israeli sentiments within its ranks, which have frequently spilled over into anti-Semitism. A leading Green deputy, Hans-Christian Ströbele, justified rocket attacks on the Jewish state during the First Gulf War in 1991 as a "logical, almost compelling consequence of Israel's politics." When asked about Ströbele's comments, Schmitz, the Green Party spokesman, said Ströbele believes in "Israel's right to exist." But Feilcke cited Ströbele as a "Green Party deputy with a negative view of Israel," and he argues that many politicians within the Greens and the Social Democratic Party frequently play a politically dishonest game with Israel by saying, "We don't have anything against Israel. We just don't like the politics of Israel." Künast told the Post last year that anti-Semitism is nonexistent within the Green Party. When asked if there is a contradiction between a Bundestag parliamentary hearing and resolution in 2008 saying that no class of Germans is immune from anti-Semitic attitudes and resentments, Künast told the Post on Friday, "There is no such contradiction. Israel's right to exist and the determined struggle against all forms of anti-Semitism are central and nonnegotiable points in Green politics and conviction. The Bundestag's declaration shows that all parties represented in parliament are in agreement on fighting anti-Semitism in everyday life. If anti-Semitism is found in all classes, that does not automatically mean that it is found among Green Party members. We Greens will not rest in our work against anti-Semitic tendencies." However, a 2006 study commissioned by the Social Democratic Friedrich Ebert Foundation reported that 9.4 percent of Green Party supporters hold anti-Semitic views. Political observers in Germany and Israeli diplomats closely follow the party's Middle East policy, largely because the Greens could play a kingmaker role in the upcoming election in September and form a new coalition government. Between 1998 and 2005, the Green Party and the Social Democratic Party controlled the Federal government, and the Green Party ran the Foreign Ministry. A leading Green Party politician, Jürgen Trittin, advocates that the German government jump-start formal negotiations with Hamas and Hizbullah.