German neo-Nazis submit anti-Israel legislation

Neo-Nazi and Green parties want to label settlement products, professor calls the move "political warfare and demonization."

Germany reichstag 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Germany reichstag 370
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
MADRID – An initiative by Germany’s neo-Nazi NPD party last year in a state parliament to demarcate Israeli products came to light this month and closely resembles the recent Green Party bill that would label Israeli products from settlements.
The revelation last week that an anti-Israel bill from the mainstream left-liberal Green Party in the Federal Bundestag mirrors, in key provisions, the language of a far-right party stirred criticism from Israeli and German experts on modern anti-Semitism.
“This alliance between the Greens and the far Right to promote blatant double standards is a huge stain on Germany’s moral standing,” Prof. Gerald Steinberg, head the Jerusalem–based group NGO Monitor, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.
“Duplicitous product labeling is the thin wedge of the BDS [Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment] movement, and central to the Durban strategy of political warfare and demonization that targets Israel,” Steinberg, a political scientist at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, added.
Michael Schroeren, spokesman for the Green Party in the Bundestag, wrote the Post by email last week that he “finds it absurd” that one could conclude that the “Greens were inspired by the neo-Nazis to come to their position” on labeling products from the West Bank. The Greens flatly deny they are advocating a boycott of Israeli goods and stress the need to make possible with the label system an “informed purchasing decision” for consumers in Germany and the wider EU.
Udo Pastörs, head of the NPD in the eastern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, introduced a bill last November to label Israeli products. He has termed Germany a “Jew Republic,” and called the American-Jewish economist Alan Greenspan, former head of the US Federal Reserve, a “crooked nose.”
The NPD motion calls for “Palestinian and Israeli products” to be labeled and for a “clear designation of origin” to be implemented.
Five months later, the Green Party introduced a federal bill to label “imports of products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank to Europe and Germany.”
Henryk M. Broder, one of Europe’s top experts on contemporary anti-Semitism, wrote last week in a column titled “Two Souls, One Thought” in the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche that the Green and Nazi parliamentary initiatives to label products are “at their core identical.”
Both initiatives use the historical model of the German Nazi regime boycotts of Jewish businesses starting on April 1, 1933, and invoking the mass slogan: “Germans defend yourselves. Do not buy from Jews!” Broder wrote.
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal’s Jerusalem office, told the Post on Thursday, “The fact that a mainstream German party initiates such a measure is a sad reflection of the distorted view of Middle East politics so common in recent years in the political discourse regarding Israel in certain circles of the Federal Republic. In that respect we see an unfortunate growing erosion of the traditional German support for the Jewish state which is part of a dangerous tendency in elements of German society and certain intellectual circles to extricate Germany from its moral obligations in the wake of the Holocaust.”
Zuroff, the world’s leading hunter of Nazi war criminals, added, “The initiative by the Green Party to have all products produced in the disputed territories is clearly short-sighted and counterproductive and will not help bring Israelis and Palestinians any closer to real and lasting peace.”
He said the Green deputy Kerstin Müller, who helped engineer the initiative targeting Israeli settlement products, is incapable of running her party’s Heinrich Böll Foundation in Tel Aviv. She is slated to take over as director in late 2013.
“Obviously, a person who played a leading role in this initiative is uniquely unsuitable to represent the Böll Foundation in Israel, but perhaps they have an opening available in Ramallah,” Zuroff said.
Marc Berthold, the outgoing director of the Böll Foundation in Tel Aviv, declined to be interviewed by the Post. Müller refused to answer Post queries.
Steinberg urged Israel’s government to examine Müller’s fitness to run the foundation.
“The Böll Foundation – which exploits German taxpayer funds to impose its interests and ideology on Israeli democracy – repeatedly violates civil society norms. It is up to the Israeli political system, including the Knesset and actual civil society groups that do not represent external interests, to decide how best to respond to this anti-democratic manipulation,” Steinberg said.
Israel’s embassy in Berlin accused the Greens of singling out the Jewish state for disparate treatment.
Ralf Fücks, head of the Berlin-based Böll Foundation, defended Müller as experienced and capable of running the Green Party office in Tel Aviv. He declined to respond to a Post query about the similarities between the neo-Nazi and Green Party initiatives covering Israeli settlement products.