Germany's Left Party: be disturbed

By Benjamin Weinthal, June 30, 2011

It has been a while since a leader of a German party called for the political exclusion of the head of Germany's Jews. Last week, Klaus Ernst, co-chairperson of the anti-Israel Left Party, called for Dr Dieter Graumann, the president of Germany's Jewish community, to leave "party politics" as rapidly as possible.

What sparked Mr Ernst's attack on the head of Germany's 105,000 Jews was Mr Graumann's criticism that the Left Party permits its politicians to "let out their rabid, almost pathological hatred of Israel".

Mr Ernst, a Bavarian trade union leader, and Left Party co-chairwoman, Gesine Lötzsch, from the former East Germany, have worked overtime to dismantle Israel's right to exist. The Left Party's record is replete with examples of calls to boycott Israeli products, it has advocated a "one-state solution" to eliminate the Jewish state, and it paid for two of its Bundestag members to join the Mavi Marmara last year.

The two Left Party parliamentarians, Inge Höger and Annette Groth, who aligned themselves with Turkish Islamists on the Mavi Marmara, received a hero's welcome last year from Ms Lötzsch on returning to Berlin.

There are further disturbing facts about Left Party members. City councilwoman Erika Zemaitis voted last year against releasing funds to build a new synagogue in the city of Herford, to replace one the Nazis had torched in 1938, and politicians such as Hermann Dierkes and Christine Buchholz have encouraged violent Palestinian resistance against Israelis.

Confronted with rising media and political criticism over its apparently antisemitic agenda, the Left Party earlier this month passed a resolution prohibiting its Bundestag deputies from participating in the Gaza Flotilla. The resolution also banned Israel boycotts and advocacy of a one-state solution.

Fourteen of the party's 76 Bundestag members rejected the resolution and walked out of the session. A number of MPs did not appear to vote. And Gregor Gysi, a top Left Party MP, who helped clinch the yes vote, promptly announced a new resolution to blast the "inflationary use of the term antisemitism".

Mr Gysi's aim appeared to be to placate the large faction of Israel-haters - a sign that the Left Party will stay wedded to an antisemitic platform.

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

Last updated: 1:17pm, June 30 2011