June 21, 2011


Germany's Left Party Faces Charges of Anti-Semitism: Swatiskas intertwined in the Star of David, a map of the Middle East with Israel missing, boycotts of Israeli products: Germany's far-left Left Party, many feel, has a growing anti-Semitism problem. The issue threatens to divide the party. (Der Spiegel, 6/21/11)

Germany's far-left Left Party has been struggling for months to have its voice heard on the national political stage. Falling membership numbers, shrinking support and a very public leadership battle this spring have all left the party struggling to find relevance.

Now, though, the party is facing yet another challenge. For years, the Left Party -- a partial outgrowth of the East German communists -- has been criticized for harboring anti-Semitism and being overtly critical of Israel. [...]

On Monday, Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, wrote a guest commentary for the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung in which he accused Left Party members, particularly those from western Germany, of "downright pathalogical hatred of Israel." He also wrote that the "old anti-Zionist spirit from East Germany still stains the party."

There are many within the party who agree. Chief among them is Benjamin-Christopher Krüger, a founding member of a Left Party working group which aims at rooting all forms of anti-Semitism out of the party. "We have an anti-Semitism problem," he said.

A recent study by the University of Leipzig quoted in the daily Frankfurter Rundschau would seem to support Krüger's claim. The study said that positions hostile to both Israel and Jews are "increasingly dominant within the party" and critics of anti-Semitic positions are "increasingly isolated."

Several recent incidents bear witness to the problem. In April, the website of the district chapter of the Left Party in the western city of Duisburg featured a swastika entangled with a Star of David. The symbol linked to a pamphlet which called Israel a "rogue nation" and called for a boycott of Israeli products. The Duisburg Left Party chapter distanced itself from the pamphlet and claimed that the site had been illegally manipulated -- but the head of the Duisburg Left Party has long supported a boycott of Israeli products.

In May, Inge Höger, a member of the Bundestag from the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, appeared at a Palestinians in Europe conference attended by numerous Hamas sympathizers. She was wearing a scarf printed with a map of the Middle East that did not include Israel. Höger claimed that she was handed the scarf and didn't want to be impolite.

Posted by at June 21, 2011 5:51 AM

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