MidEast

Merkel Criticized for Meetings with Anti-Israel NGOs

The chairman of the German-Israel parliament group on Thursday attacked Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government for meeting primarily with NGOs critical of Israel, Benjamin Weinthal reported in The Jerusalem Post.

Green Party MP Volker Beck said that “The balance of the discussion partners speaks not only for a special passion—the so-called Israel criticism attitude—but also for the false estimation and lack of knowledge of the situation on the ground.” He insisted that “A dialogue should also consist of talks with positions that one does not share. Otherwise it is a monologue rather than a duet.”

The MP secured information from the German Foreign Ministry about official government meetings in Israel, which show that, over a nearly three-and-a-half-year period, Merkel’s cabinet met almost exclusively with NGOs critical of Israel, with some even questioning the legitimacy of the Jewish state. The data revealed that from meetings with 27 NGOs, only one NGO was from the middle or center-right of the political spectrum.

The chairman cited a speech from German President Walter Steinmeier at the Hebrew University in May. “While we Germans know and admire the diversity of democracy in Israel, we also still want to speak with as many different groups in your country and learn as many different viewpoints,” Steinmeier said.

Beck countered: “The federal government will speak with all sections of Israeli civil society. Fair enough. The federal government has a lot to do in the future, because until now the dialogue has been politically one-sided and represents everything other than the diversity of Israeli society.”

In April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a meeting with the German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, over the minister’s plan to meet with representatives from the Israeli NGOs Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem.

Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid said in October at a UN event that B’Tselem “no longer even pretend that their aim is to influence Israeli public opinion. Instead they decided to join with anti-Semitic BDS organizations in order to pressure Israel from the outside.” Earlier this year, Education Minister Naftali Bennett stated that “Breaking the Silence is not an anti-Netanyahu organization; it’s an anti-IDF one.”

[Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ World Economic Forum]