The hypocrisy of the 'Friends of the Jewish State'

Proclaiming friendship with Israel is easy, but how much is this friendship worth, when these very “friends” turn a blind eye to Holocaust denial and terror advocacy?

 People carry an Israeli and a German flag during a rally in solidarity with Israel and against antisemitism, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, May 20, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN MANG)
People carry an Israeli and a German flag during a rally in solidarity with Israel and against antisemitism, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, May 20, 2021

During an August 16 press conference in Berlin alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of committing “50 Holocausts.” Scholz, despite his repeated calls to stand up against all forms of antisemitism, remained silent and took some 24 hours before expressing his condemnation of Abbas’ statements. And in spite of Abbas’ perverse comparison, Germany announced another € 340 million aid package for the Palestinians that very day. In doing so, Germany effectively signaled to the Palestinian leadership that their radicalism pays off.

But Chancellor Scholz isn’t the only high-profile German rewarding Palestinian extremism.

For example, on September 5, the city of Munich commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1972 terrorist attack on Israel’s national Olympic team, during which Palestinian terrorists murdered eleven Israeli athletes and a German policeman. One of the speakers at the remembrance ceremony was the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, Thomas Bach, himself a former German Olympian. In his speech, Bach referred to the attack as the “darkest day in Olympic history.” According to Bach, he “shared the pain” of the relatives and stated that “the barbaric attack fills us with horror, shame and disgust.” He also spoke of “Olympic values,” which he claimed stand for “unity of humankind in all our diversity, regardless of political or cultural differences.”

Bach’s words were strong, and he shook hands with the families of those who had been murdered, making his supposed honesty and sincerity all the more believable. It was also announced that he would be attending a separate remembrance ceremony as a guest of honor in Tel Aviv in late September. What few knew, however, was that Bach was also planning to spend the two days prior to the commemoration in Ramallah. 

There, he met with Maj. Gen. Jibril Rajoub, with whom he held a joint press conference. Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Bach expressed his support for Rajoub's proposal to create an Olympic stadium in “Palestine,” and vowed that the IOC will “continue to support the POC's (Palestinian Olympic Committee) efforts to prepare its athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympics.” Bach also met athletes at Ahmed Al Shugairi Hall. Who exactly is Rajoub, as well as Ahmed Al Shugairi, for whom the hall Bach visited was named? 

Al Shugairi is a Palestinian “hero”; a leader behind the “construction of the military apparatus under the name of the Palestine Liberation Army.” He was one of the founders and first president of the Palestine Liberation Organization, widely regarded as a terrorist organization at the time.

Similarly, Jibril Rajoub is anything but a man of peace. He is a supporter of Palestinian terrorism and an antisemite who violates the most important humanistic values, in addition to violating the principles of the IOC that Bach claimed to hold in such high esteem. 

Additionally, Rajoub routinely distorts the Holocaust by comparing Israel and its actions to Nazis. He has claimed that Israeli “prisons are an identical copy of Auschwitz and the death camps,” that "Auschwitz is here in every city in Palestine,” that Israelis are “the ugly face of Nazism, which is this Zionism,” and so forth. He also stated that "what is happening in Palestine is a second Holocaust.” He prohibits Palestinians from participating in sports with Israelis and condemns Arab states that do so. Rajoub uses sports to promote hatred and incite violence and terror.

There are many instances of Rajoub collaborating with internationally designated terror organizations, glorifying terrorists, and rejecting Israel’s right to exist. For him, the terrorists of the ’72 massacre are heroes. He has referred to commemorations for the victims as "racist." Both Maccabi and Palestinian Media Watch have published extensive background materials about Rajoub, including an open letter they co-signed in September 2022 addressed to Bach. Yet despite all this, Bach did not hesitate to meet with Rajoub and announce his intention to increase financial support to the Palestinian Olympic Committee. 

Both Chancellor Scholz and Thomas Bach have repeatedly declared their friendship to Israel. They have denounced terrorism, antisemitism, and holocaust denial. They haven visited Israel and shaken the hands of the victims of the Munich Massacre and their families. And yet – given the circumstances – we are left speechless by the hypocrisy of their words. How much are their proclamations worth, when they are silent in the moments of truth when it matters most? How much are their declarations worth when they are willing to turn a blind eye to Holocaust distortion and embrace radicals? 

Sacha Stawski is the President of Honestly Concerned, an initiative to fight biased media coverage of antisemitsm in Germany and the conflict in the Middle East. Stawski is also heading the pro-Israel German group I Like Israel (ILI). 

This op-ed is published in partnership with a coalition of organizations that fight antisemitism across the world. Read the previous article by Adam Milstein.