BONN (Dec. 16)
Frequent allegations of a resemblance between the Green Party, which has won 10 percent of the popular vote in recent national and regional elections, and the rise of the Nazi Party in the Weimar Republic more than a half century ago, has irritated leftwing Jewish intellectuals who share the ecological and pacifist philosophy of the Greens.
Nevertheless, the parallels are disturbing to many Germans, Jews and non-Jews, because the Greens manifest certain nationalistic tendencies and are distinctly unfriendly toward Israel.
Until recently, comparisons were drawn by political opponents of the Green Party, notably the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian counterpart, the Christian Social Union (CSU), both conservative. But at the Green Party’s last convention, the Nazi analogy was expressed from within its ranks.
It came from Rudolf Bahro, an ideological father figure of the Greens who complained that the party’s rise in recent years was similar to that of the Nazis. His remarks triggered shouts of protest and Bahro undoubtedly forfeited much of the high regard he enjoyed among the Greens. But clearly, his outspoken criticism set a precedent which cannot be ignored.
There have since been other voices raised in the party for a frank discussion of its ideologically nationalistic tendencies and of its organizational structures which bear an unpleasant kinship to those of the Nazis.
EVIDENCE OF HOSTILITY TOWARD JEWS
The first evidence of a hostile attitude toward Jews emerged in 1981 when some branches of the party circulated a calendar containing anti-Semitic propaganda. When the Jewish Telegraphic Agency questioned this at the time, party officials initially tried to brush it aside.
But when evidence of the anti-Semitic nature of the calendar was produced, the same officials repudiated the behavior of the branches concerned. They maintained they could not be held responsible for every incident that occurred in the party which was then new and growing at a rapid pace.
During the war in Lebanon in 1982, the Greens issued a strong anti-Jewish statement. They urged the Bonn government to withdraw reparations money from Jewish Holocaust victims and make it available instead to the Palestinian and Lebanese victims of what they called a Jewish-made “holocaust.”
SEVERAL TOP OFFICIALS HAD NAZI RECORDS
After their election to the Bundestag for the first time in March, 1983, the Greens admitted that several top party officials, including a member of the Bundestag, had Nazi records. Two of the officials were dismissed but the others retained their positions in the party.
In the summer of 1984, a delegation of the Green Party visited Israel to express support for the Progressive List For Peace, a coalition of Jewish leftists and Israeli Arab nationalists standing for election to the Knesset on a platform which called for the creation of a Palestinian state.
When the German-Israel Association met for its annual conference in Bonn last month, the Greens were the only party in the Bundestag that did not send a representative, although they were invited. Concern over the Green Party’s nationalistic tendencies arises partly from their anti-Western and anti-American slogans which sometimes resemble the slogans of neo-Nazi groups. Many Greens regard American troops in West Germany as an occupying force which makes it impossible for Germany to express its own specific national interests. The U.S. is largely linked by them to a “Jewish lobby” and its “aggressive” client, Israel.
The natural sympathies of most Greens lie with the Third World countries and the “liberation movements.” The Palestine Liberation Organization is considered a liberation movement; Zionism is regarded as an oppressive tool of Western imperialism, especially of American interests.
SYMPATHY WITH THE PALESTINIANS
While the Greens do not question Israel’s legitimacy as a nation, they give the clear impression that to achieve an understanding with the Arabs the Israelis must give up even more than just the occupied Arab territories.
The typical Green attitude is that justice must be done to the Palestinian refugees who left the territory of Israel in 1948. They are unaware of, or ignore, the fate of Jewish refugees who formerly lived in Arab countries.
According to party spokesman Heinz Suhr, the Greens have not had time to debate the Arab-Israeli conflict in any detail. He said such a debate was highly desirable and would definitely take place sometime in the future. Suhr sharply denied that the Greens have anti-Jewish or anti-Israel attitudes.
ISRAEL DENOUNCED AS ‘FASCIST’
Nevertheless, earlier this month a so-called “strategic paper” circulated among the leaders of the Green Party denounced Israel as “fascist and terrorist” and referred to “terrorist policies” of Israel in south Lebanon which allegedly include random arrests and frequent tortures in specially designated concentration camps.
This secret document, which was apparently leaked to the press, has triggered a sharp reaction by the Israeli Ambassador, Yitzhak Ben Ari, and has touched off an internal debate between the “hardliners” and “moderates” within the party. A party spokesman insisted that the document was a “mere suggestion” that was never approved. But the party has not denied that all members of this leading body had seen the “strategic paper” and had failed to react.
Juergen Reents, a Green Party member of the Bundestag who is heading a party delegation to four Middle East countries starting tomorrow, said in a telephone interview that he did not see any reason to repudiate the authors of the document since the party did not officially accept it.
The present trip to the Mideast by the party’s delegation, which is composed of hardline radical elements, is a sign that this faction is not pleased by the earlier trip to Israel last July by the more moderate faction. The earlier delegation was headed by Otto Schilly, a Bundestag member who has won a reputation as a pragmatist and a realist.
While Schilly has sharply criticized Israeli policies he has also gone out of his way to denounce anti-Semitic manifestations in his party. According to him, the Green Party is still organizationally fluid and has not yet formally and sharply identified its political position on a number of issues, including the Mideast, and that some who identify themselves as Greens have gravely damaged the reputation of the party.