Germany now rivals UK for Israel-bashing

By Benjamin Weinthal, May 19, 2011
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Britain has been the main European hub for groups advocating a boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) strategy against the Jewish state. Germany, however, has enacted policies which now make it a stark rival for the UK's hardcore anti-Israel movement.

Consider the reports last week that the German government asked Deutsche Bahn (DB) to pull the plug on its long-planned Israeli rapid-rail project from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem because the line will traverse a small section of disputed West Bank territory.

German Transport Minister and Christian Social Union MP Peter Ramsauer offered the following reason for terminating the project: "Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad Al-Malki, members of the German Parliament and media have criticised a project in which DB International is acting as adviser to Israel's state-run railway."

One of the German MPs who wrote to him was the Left Party's Inge Höger. Last month, she propagated a wild conspiracy theory that the Israeli government murdered two pro-Palestinian activists because their deaths could deal a "serious blow" to the - slated - second flotilla to Gaza.

In May, the mayor of  Wuppertal, Christian Democratic Union member Peter Jung, agreed to rent a city-funded and owned centre to Hamas-related terror groups. The co-operating sponsors of the conference - who embrace BDS tactics - included the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), a group with strong ties to Hamas, according to Berlin's domestic intelligence agency. The intelligence office listed PRC under the rubric "regional violent Islamic practitioners" in its report.

In April, the German Left Party branch in Duisburg posted a flyer on its website with a swastika morphing into a Star of David, and called for a boycott of Israeli products. "Confront the moral blackmail of the so-called Holocaust," states the flyer, calling Israel a "rogue state" and "warmonger". Since 2009, a Left Party councillor in the city, Hermann Dierkes, has spearheaded a boycott campaign of Israel, and termed Israel's right to exist "petty".

In March, a group called the "Bremer Peace Forum" in the northern Germany city of Bremen - with support of the local Left Party website - staged protests in front of supermarkets urging Germans to boycott Israeli products. The Forum protesters showed pictures of bloody oranges on their placards.

What is perhaps most unsettling about rising BDS actions in Germany is the obvious irony that the birthplace of state-sanctioned boycotts targeting Jews was fascist Germany.

Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the
Foundation for Defence of Democracies

    Last updated: 2:05pm, May 19 2011