German left-wingers rally for Israel

By Toby Axelrod, June 17, 2010
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Non-Jewish groups expressed solidarity with Israel during rallies in Germany this past weekend.

On Saturday, a coalition of left-oriented groups gathered outside the headquarters of the Left Party in Berlin to show support for Israel's right to self-defence, and to protest the participation of three members of the Left Party in the flotilla.

"We all saw [their] direct participation as an aggressive act against Israel and more or less direct collaboration with Hamas," said Jonathan Weckerle, a co-founder of the Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin, and one of some 300 people at the rally. "It could not go without a reaction and a warning."

The demonstrators were joined by Iranian exile groups.

The demonstration was a symptom of the split in Germany's political left, with a significant group criticising what they consider to be their brethren's instinctive failure to recognise and support Israel and to share responsibility for the crimes of the Nazi era.

Meanwhile, some left-wing media accused the protesters of being fascists and warmongers. Left Party chairman Gregor Gysi, who is of Jewish background, has called Israel's flotilla action unjustified.

Saturday's protest aimed to portray the Left Party, which was formed in 2007 and is the fourth largest in the federal parliament, as "maybe the most aggressive and dangerous party when it comes to Israel and antisemitism, and collaboration with Islamist groups," Mr Weckerle said.

To ignore the "openly aggressive antisemitic motives and actions of groups like Hamas, you have be antisemitic yourself," he added. When "people who claim they are progressive" support groups that advocate living under shariah law, "you have to ask why this is and how aggressively they deny the Israeli perspectives", he said.

    Last updated: 4:02pm, June 17 2010