German Delegation Visiting Israel Runs Into Trouble Over Participation of Far-Right MP
A delegation of German politicians visiting Israel to learn about the country’s cyber-security industry has run into a diplomatic wall over the inclusion over a far-right politician among their number.
The group, from the German state of Hesse, arrived in Israel on Sunday and were scheduled to attend a cyber-security conference in Tel Aviv and a meeting with top scientists at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
But a planned reception for the group at the Ministry of the Economy and Industry was abruptly canceled when Israeli officials discovered that those attending would include Dimitri Schulz — a member of the German parliament for the far-right AfD (Alternative for Germany) party.
A visit to Israel’s national memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem, was also called off because of Schultz’s presence.
Schulz told local news outlets in Hesse on Wednesday that he was deeply disappointed by the Israeli decision, pointing out that he had founded a group of 19 like-minded thinkers calling themselves “Jews in the AfD.”
While the AfD has adopted some pro-Israel positions as a consequence of its strident opposition to the Islamic faith and Muslim immigration, many of its supporters come from far-right and neo-Nazi backgrounds, and frequently minimize or deny outright the Nazi Holocaust. When the “Jews in the AfD” group was launched at the party’s conference last October, hundreds of German Jewish students protested outside the meeting hall in Frankfurt, with one student leader declaring, “You won’t get a kosher stamp from us.”
More recently, Jeremy Issacharoff — Israel’s ambassador to Germany — confirmed that it was the Jewish state’s policy to shun AfD politicians.
In an interview with German news agency dpa in May, Issacharoff said that the leaders of the AfD had consistently made comments that were “highly insulting for Jews, for Israel and for the entire issue of the Holocaust.”