German Jews call Speigel article about pro-Israel lobby anti-Semitic

Toby Axelrod

(JTA) — Der Spiegel magazine in Germany published a story claiming that the pro-Israel lobby was behind the parliament’s decision to  pass a resolution condemning the boycott Israel campaign as anti-Semitic.

Now the Jewish community there is lashing out against the magazine.

“The text is brimming with accusations of alleged Jewish influence in connection with money payments,” Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in a statement Sunday to the German Jewish weekly, Juedische Allgemeine. “The article clearly makes use of anti-Semitic cliches and thus stirs up anti-Semitism.”

The July 12 article titled “targeted campaign” purports to uncover unethical practices by two Israel lobbying groups —  the nonpartisan German-Jewish Values Initiative and the Middle East Peace Forum, or Naffo —   that led to the nonbinding resolution passed in May by the Bundestag rejecting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel, or BDS.

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The Jewish community is facing a storm of criticism over its claim that pro-Israel lobbying was behind the country’s parliament recent rejection of boycotts against the Jewish state.

On Monday, Spiegel editors insisted in a statement that they were merely exploring “questionable practices of lobby groups.”

The magazine’s investigation was triggered by criticism from politicians who are “far removed from the suspicion of being anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic,” they said.

Among the alleged transgressions attributed by politicians to the pro-Israel groups were the “systematic attempt to influence” lawmakers and interfering in a parliamentary process, Spiegel said.

The editors also rejected charges that they had tried to delegitimize a legal donation practice and had exaggerated the influence of the two organizations.