An official of the German city of Rostock has stepped down from his position after being assailed for anti-Semitic comments he directed at the head of Germany’s Jewish community.
Karl-Heinz Schmidt, the chairman of the Committee for Internal Affairs of Rostock’s City Council, resigned Monday evening after a row erupted over his insinuation that the German Jewish leader, Ignaz Bubis, pays allegiance to Israel rather than German.
Earlier in the day at a news conference, Schmidt demanded that Bubis publicly take a stand on the “Israeli terror against the Arabs.”
Schmidt, a members of the ruling Christian Democrats, told Bubis, “You are, after all, a German Jew, and your homeland is Israel.”
Bubis shot back angrily, “Such political behavior as painting Jews as strangers lays the cornerstone for the attacks of the right-wing extremists. My home is in Frankfurt and Judaism is no nationality.”
He added: “The fact that Germany’s Jewish community no longer exists is linked to questions like that.”
The exchange was particularly notable in that the northern German port city of Rostock has been the site of particularly venomous attacks on foreigners.
A hostel for asylum-seekers was torched there two months ago by neo- Nazis, and a French Jewish group that protested those activities was itself apprehended by police.
Monday’s incident occurred as Bubis and other German Jewish leaders were visiting the refugee center.
The Social Democratic mayor of Rostock, Klaus Kilimann, one of the first to demand Schmidt’s resignation, apologized for what he called Schmidt’s “provocation.” He expressed the wish that a Jewish community would grow in Rostock.
In the evening, the Christian Democrats were called to an emergency meeting, after which Schmidt resigned both from the party and the City Council.
The party leader, Karl Abshagen, said he hopes to “limit the damage” with the resignation.
The secretary-general of the party, Peter Hinze, sharply criticized Schmidt’s words as “unbearable and unacceptable.”
And the head of the local Liberal Party, Walter Goldbeck, criticized the “insult” to Jewish citizens.