Jerusalem Post journalist Benjamin Weinthal, who has thankfully returned to regular blogging, just posted about a potentially significant, albeit somewhat counter-intuitive, development on the German left. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) leadership is much more hostile to Israel and much more sympathetic to Iran than is the party’s youth organization Jusos. That’s the opposite of what you usually get when you juxtapose party elders with young European political activists, and the dynamic is increasingly fueling talk of a generation gap.
Earlier this month, SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel, who hopes one day to be chancellor and might very well succeed, triggered a controversy by slamming Israel for “apartheid.” The statement was hailed as “courageous” by the Palestinians but drew a strong rebuke from Jusos’s Berlin chapter, which called on him to distance himself from the remarks and insisted that there is “in no way a justification” for the accusation.
Now Weinthal reports the same Jusos chapter has gone further than ever before on the issues of the Jewish State and its security, using an SPD party conference to emphasize unconditional solidarity with Israel. Cognizant of Iran’s stated intention to destroy Israel and its Jews, they demanded the global community do what needs to be done to block the mullahs. Said Berlin Jusos chairman Kevin Kühnert, “If Iran continues to work on a nuclear weapon, we are arguing for a preventive attack.”
The resolution is designed to “jumpstart” discussions about the German-Israeli relationship in German political circles. Germany has become increasingly close to Israel’s declared enemies – a German group even awarded Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan a prize for tolerance two weeks ago – and increasingly hostile to Israel. When Germany piled on against Israel in the UN recently, that decision was made at the highest levels.
And of course, Iran. State-funded German universities promote trade with Tehran. Germany’s federal government indirectly sold a jet used by German chancellors to a sanctioned Iranian airline company. Iranian officials visit Germany and take meetings with German parliamentarians, and they use their visits to deny the Holocaust. Just this week, German TV station ZDF broadcast without objection a Holocaust-denying speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Given that context, the Jusos resolution is at a minimum heartening. But it’s going to take a long time to reverse the lazy anti-Israel ideology that has taken hold on the left in Germany and across much of the rest of Europe, which long ago extended to accepting anti-Semitic Iranian declarations.