Israelis said to suffer boycott at German parliament

Palestinian, Lebanese participants in scholarship program refuse to appear beside Israelis, forcing them to stand alone

The German Bundestag (photo credit: Courtesy Whitehouse)
The German Bundestag (photo credit: Courtesy Whitehouse)

Israelis participating in an international fellowship program hosted by the German parliament were recently victims of a boycott at the Bundestag, when Palestinian and Lebanese representatives refused to appear with them on stage, Channel 10 News reported Thursday night.

According to the report, no action has been taken against the boycotters by program leaders.

Every year the prestigious International Parliamentary Scholarship (IPS) program hosts over 100 young political aspirants from 30 countries for five months, pairing them up with German lawmakers to give them first-hand experience in the work of the legislature.

According to the program’s website, the initiative is meant to provide “exciting ways of teaching young people about the significance of friendly cooperation based on shared political and cultural values.”

The Reichtag building which hosts Germany's parliament Bundestag is reflected in a puddle on a rainy autumn day in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013.  (photo credit: AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
The Reichstag building, which hosts Germany’s Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, November 4, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Markus Schreiber)

However, according to Channel 10, controversy brewed this year when — for the first time — representatives were grouped according to their region, and Israelis were placed alongside Palestinian and Lebanese delegates in one of the program’s central events. The Arab representatives then said they would refuse to appear alongside the Israelis on the same stage.

Initially a solution appeared to have been found whereby the three nations would be accompanied on stage by delegates from several other countries. But the Lebanese and Palestinians backtracked, demanding that the Israelis sign a document that recognizes the “illegality” of the occupation, alleged Israeli crimes against Palestinians, and other such clauses.

The IPS leadership at first warned the Arab representatives that they would be expelled from the program should they persist in their refusal, but eventually caved and allowed them to appear on stage with other Arab nations, while the Israelis were forced to appear alone.

One of the Israeli delegates, who spoke to Channel 10 anonymously, said, “I am ashamed in the name of my grandparents, who survived the Holocaust, that I am forced to suffer a boycott for being Israeli.

“The only reason we’ve stayed here is that certain parliament members have expressed their disgust with the matter,” he added.

According to the report, the incident has angered many in the Bundestag, with several lawmakers issuing an official letter to IPS organizers in which they strongly protested the apparent boycott of Israel at the German parliament. Bundestag President Norbert Lammert has also been petitioned on the issue, but has not taken any action as of yet.

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