The local branch of the neo-Nazi party (NPD) expressed solidarity for the campaign calling for a boycott of Israeli products that is supported by the German city of Jena’s Social Democratic Mayor Albrecht Schröter and the left-wing NGO Pax Christi.
The NPD branch in the state of Thuringia, where Jena is located, quickly issued accolades on Monday to Schröter on its website. The neo-Nazis wrote that he is “courageous” for his anti-Israel conduct and noted “as nationalists who have to deal every day with these Jewish/left-liberal defamation tactics, we think of Goethe’s sorcerer’s apprentice, who couldn’t get rid of the spirits he called.”
Schröter refused to answer queries from The Jerusalem Post about whether the boycott was creating an anti-Israel and anti- Jewish climate in Jena. He reiterated his pro-boycott action in an opinion piece on Monday in the local Thüringische Landeszeitung.
According to the mayor, his goal “is to demand mandatory labeling of goods from illegal Israeli settlements that occupy Palestinian territory.” Anti-boycott critics say the boycott’s language is nebulous and sweeping, and results in a boycott of Israeli-labeled products.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s international director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, told the Post on Monday that the human rights group may issue a formal travel advisory to warn Diaspora Jews and Israelis about visits to the city because of the possibility of anti-Semitic violence.
Samuels said the Wiesenthal Center will “consider a travel advisory about Jena” because the anti-Israel boycott “campaign can result in physical [acts of] anti-Semitism.”
He cited the center’s 2010 warning issued against the Swedish city of Malmo because Social Democratic Mayor Ilmar Reepalu contributed to citysponsored anti-Semitism that endangered Jews.
“The boycott is a form of discrimination and illegal. It is not just a boycott against settlements; that is an excuse. It is a boycott against the State of Israel,” said Samuels.
“This is not the first time that we have had anti-Semitism from Pax Christi,” he continued, noting that the mayor and Pax Christi chose not to boycott states like Syria that are engaged in human rights violations.
Thuringia and the city of Jena are hotbeds of neo-Nazi activity. Kevin Zdiara, the deputy chairman of the German-Israel friendship society (DIG) in Thuringia’s capital Erfurt, told the Post that in Jena “there is a Nazi problem,” that the terrorists of the national socialist underground came from Jena and that Nazis continue to meet at the property of the “Brown House,” a local center for the far-right.
Zdiara, who first shined a light on the boycott in a German online publication, added that there is certainly enough for the mayor to do in Jena instead of issuing one-sided statements against Israel. He termed Schröter’s arguments “in certain areas to resemble anti-Zionist anti-Semitism” because the remarks meet Natan Sharansky’s 3-D test for modern anti-Semitism – demonization, double standards and delegitimization.
In an email to the Post on Tuesday, Dr. Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, wrote, “Unfortunately, only eight decades since Jewish businesses were first boycotted, a German mayor supports a boycott of products from the Jewish state. With all the real and systematic human rights abuses happening in the world, the fact that a German mayor chooses to single out the only Jewish state cannot be overlooked.”
“While the mayor has automatically self-defended himself from accusations of anti-Semitism, this should fool no one. It meets all the criteria of the European Union’s working definition of anti-Semitism and should be rightly condemned,” Kantor continued.