Antisemitism accusation leveled against German MP for anti-Israel diatribe

In an unprecedented full-frontal attack on the foreign policy spokesman for the largely anti-Israel Left Party in Germany, the country’s leading expert on Jew-hatred on Thursday accused the MP of stoking antisemitism against Israel and Jews in his Bundestag speech.Henryk M. Broder, the prominent German-Jewish columnist for the large Die Welt broadsheet paper, wrote in his Welt column about Left Party MP Gregor Gysi’s tirade against Israel.

“A sentence that justifies an initial suspicion that even one like Gysi could not be entirely free of antisemitic residue that was widespread in the [German Democratic Republic], especially in nomenklatura circles.”Gysi delivered a speech against Israel’s plan to extend sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.The commentator Broder cited a passage in Gysi’s speech as being packed with bias because Gysi appears to single out only Israel for opprobrium. “For many Jews it is more than shameful if Israel, in particular, has to be associated with violations of international law, occupation, and humiliation of the Palestinians,” Gysi said.Broder posed the question: “Have you heard him [Gysi] say that it must be shameful for many Chinese for how China deals with Uyghurs, Tibetans and dissidents in Hong Kong? Jews should be ashamed of Israel, referring to other ethnic groups would be an inadmissible generalization.”The column by Broder, who has testified in the Bundestag about post-Holocaust antisemitism in Germany, is believed to be the first allegation of antisemitism against Gysi, a well-known lawyer in the now-defunct East German socialist state – the German Democratic Republic.

Critics, including Broder, accused Gysi of blaming Israel and Jews for antisemitism – a pattern that has a longstanding tradition in the history of Jew-hatred since the modern founding of the Jewish state.Gysi said during his address that “Israel’s reputation will become significantly more negative worldwide when the annexation plans are implemented. This also affects Jews everywhere. Neither they nor Israel will become safer, on the contrary.”Broder declared that “Gysi’s feigned concern for Israel’s reputation and its consequences for Jews around the world also contains a thinly veiled threat. If there is an attack on Jews or a Jewish facility anywhere, the Jews will be jointly responsible. Because they watched Israel humiliate the Palestinians and did nothing about it. It is the precedent justification for an act of terrorism that is just being hatched somewhere. Because the Jews are to blame for everything, including what happens to them.”When asked about Broder’s column that appears to deal a shattering blow to the Left party position on Israel, Gysi wrote The Jerusalem Post by email on Friday.“Mr. Broder’s claim is utter nonsense. Not only that I myself have Jewish ancestors, some of whom were murdered during the Nazi era, [and] not only that I had a particularly close relationship with my Jewish grandmother, [and] not only that I always had a close relationship with the Jewish community in Berlin during the GDR period, but my visits and discussions in Israel and Palestine prove the opposite. The difference is very simple. Broder and probably you too find Netanyahu and his politics to be great. Many Jews in Israel and elsewhere and I just don’t.”Gysi flatly rejected that he blamed Jews and Israel for antisemitism. “I did not claim in any sentence that Israel was responsible for antisemitism. I am not uninformed to seriously believe that Israel could have anything to do with millennia-old antisemitism.”He continued that “It is completely wrong—instead of responding to my criticism of the policies of Netanyahu—to falsely and highly non-credibly accuse me immediately of antisemitism only to prevent a political debate.”The 72-year-old politician  added that ” I also know that antisemitism and racism are fundamentally different, which is why I named both. Otherwise there would only be one term.”The Left Party MP said his speaking time was limited to “three minutes” and “an overall historical lecture was not possible.” He urged that a reading of his speech on “60 Years of Israel” held in 2008.The Left Party is viewed as divided about Israel and combating modern antisemitism.Gysi is considered to be part of the reformist wing of the Left Party that recognized Israel’s existence in 2008 and pushed for opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel.The anti-reformist wing consists of the Left Party deputy Christine Buchholz, who has defended the “legitimate resistance” of Hamas and Hezbollah against the Jewish state. The US and Germany both classify the jihadi organizations Hamas and Hezbollah to be terrorist movements. Buchholz is also on the advisory board of the pro-BDS organization German-Palestinian Society.Gysi said in his speech that there are organizations, people and governments that seek to destroy Israel. However, he did not name names.
The Islamic Republic of Iran and its chief proxy Hezbollah, along with Hamas, have declared multiple times that the Jewish State needs to be obliterated. Both the Trump and Obama administrations declared Iran’s regime to be the worst state-sponsor of terrorism.In his email to the Post, Gysi stressed that “Of course, I know that the Arab states initially rejected the UN decision” to recognize Israel.Gysi said that “It is absolutely true that the Palestinian leadership is also making serious mistakes. I only remember [Yasser ] Arafat’s talks with [Ehud] Barak and [Bill] Clinton. But there are now peace offers by President [Mahmoud] Abbas. In the event of the establishment of the Palestinian State, he was ready to dispense with any army. But Netanyahu doesn’t want a two-state solution.”Gysi urged during his speech for an arms embargo in the event of annexation.

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