Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine 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.
A July 12 Spiegel article titled “targeted campaign” purported to uncover unethical practices by pro-Israel lobbying groups to steer German politics: The non-partisan German-Jewish “Values Initiative” and “Naffo” — Middle East Peace Forum.
Efforts by these two groups, according to the article, led, among other things, to the Bundestag passing in May a non-binding resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel, or BDS, as anti-Semitic.
“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.”
On Monday, Spiegel editors in a statement insisted that they were merely exploring “questionable practices of lobby groups.”
Their 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.