April 23, 2018 | The Jerusalem Post

German students protest anti-Israel policy of former foreign minister

Students at the University of Bonn in Germany demonstrated against a talk delivered by former German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel because of his alleged anti-Israel and pro-Iran policies.
The protesters held banners stating “Against Iran-Siggi! For Israel!” at the event on Monday and tossed flyers in the auditorium.

Siggi is a shortened version of Sigmar.

The flyer accused the Social Democratic politician of “friendship with despots, hatred of Israel, dirty weapon deals.”

The students criticized the university for inviting Gabriel to speak on “Germany in an uncomfortable world,” on the 200th anniversary of the founding year of the university, which is located in the city of Bonn in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The flyer was signed by four groups: List of Undogmatic Students (LUST), Refugees Welcome Bonn, Alliance Against Antisemitism and Anti-fascist Left Bonn. It was unclear how many protesters were in the upper balcony of the auditorium where the banners were unfurled.

The groups slammed Gabriel in the flyer for traveling to Iran with a large German business delegation to promote trade days after the nuclear deal was reached in 2015.

The flyer called Gabriel a “buddy of the mullah regime” and “the most important voice in the West to defend the controversial Iran deal against every form of criticism.”

Gabriel organized a second German business delegation to Iran in 2016.

The groups alleged that Gabriel failed to support the democratic protests in Iran in December and January and enabled medical treatment for Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi – considered a successor to Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei.

Shahroudi, who served as Iran’s justice minister from 1999 to 2009, is accused by critics of having ordered roughly 2,000 executions, including the executions of adolescents.

The flyer cited a January editorial in The Jerusalem Post that termed Gabriel the “poster boy of Hamas.” The Post editorial was in response to the EU- and US-designated terrorist organization’s praise of Gabriel’s description of Israel as an “apartheid regime” on its Twitter feed. “Do you continue to stand by your statement that Israel is an apartheid state?” yelled the protesters at Gabriel. The former top envoy did not retract his apartheid comment.

The protesters further criticized Gabriel in the flyer for his silence about Turkey’s military operations against the Kurds in northern Syria. The flyer took Gabriel to task for his alleged appeasement of Turkey and military aid, including Leopard 2 tanks, to the Turkish government. Turkey used German tanks to conquer the Kurdish-controlled city of Afrin in northern Syria.

Responding to the protesters, Gabriel defended his policy toward Israel. “There are few countries with which I have such a close relationship as Israel.” Gabriel said he also cited German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statement that “Israel’s security belongs to Germany’s raison d’état.” Gabriel added that his attachment to Israel’s security means criticizing Israel for its policies toward the Palestinians. Gabriel was met with boos for his insistence on criticizing Israel. Gabriel remains immensely unpopular within Israel’s government and public.

A representative of Gabriel’s successor, Heiko Mass, told the Post in March, “Foreign Minister Maas has never made such a statement [apartheid regime] and will also never do so in the future” in connection with the Jewish state.

Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.

Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD. FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.