Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Germany: Die Linke's antisemitism

Via Political Critique (h/t glykosymoritis):
Not uncommon, and unequivocally worthy of criticism is the party’s anti-Semitism. There has been a certain unwillingness among the party’s leaders to address anti-Semitism within their ranks, even more so since long-time leader Gregor Gysi stepped down as parliamentary leader in 2015. Gysi has always been much more careful about accusations of anti-Semitism than most of his fellow party members. It’s particularly odd that an allegedly democratic socialist party would have members organizing a pro-Hamas demonstration, including chants of “Death to Jews,” glorification of Adolf Hitler and Nazi crimes, as well as swastikas and Al-Qaeda flags.

But that’s just a fraction of the anti-Semitism within Die Linke. There’s Inge Höger, member of the Bundestag, who publicly wore a scarf upon which a map omitting Israel was printed (denying Israel’s right to exist is widely considered as anti-Semitic in Germany), on another occasion the party refused to join a multi-party appeal against a call to boycott Israeli products. Such a call is reminiscent of Nazi campaigns against patronizing Jewish shops in the 1930s.

Occasional transgressions – like a swastika entangled with a Star of David on a local party website ­– can be put down to singular individuals, but in 2008, eleven members of Die Linke in the Bundestag refused to support a resolution against anti-Semitism, a dangerous decision for any German party to make. There are numerous party members who have shown that they have highly problematic stances on various issues – and then there’s Diether Dehm. Why this particular party member is worth special attention becomes clear with an appraisal of some of the dubious things he’s said and done. Dehm was involved in the so-called vigils of peace, a movement out of which the xeno- and Islamophobic Pegida evolved, and where anti-Semitic, right-wing populist sentiments are more than common. One of his friends at those demonstrations was Ken Jebsen, Germany’s leading conspiracy theory devotee, who once said the “Holocaust was invented as a PR stunt”. He is friends with Kathrin Oertel, founder of Pegida. His assistant in Parliament is a former Red Army Faction terrorist, and he has compared the choice between the current and previous German president to choosing between Hitler and Stalin. To be fair, Diether Dehm is only one of 64 of Die Linke‘s Members of Parliament, but the fact that none of his controversial outbursts has provoked even one comment from the parliamentary leadership suggests that these issues may have their roots deep within the party.

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