BERLIN (JTA) — A deputy Israeli minister, Ayoub Kara, met with far-right millionaire businessman Patrik Brinkmann in Berlin.
Kara, a Likud Party member who serves as deputy minister for Development of the Negev and Galilee, met during a weekend visit to the German capital with the German-Swedish Brinkmann, who has supported neo-Nazi and right-wing populist parties in Europe, according to a report in the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot.
Brinkmann, 44, who is pushing an anti-Islam agenda, has been reaching out to Israeli politicians in recent months, claiming to want to establish a broad-based, far-right movement "without anti-Semitism." He reportedly met with Kara and other Israeli lawmakers while in Israel earlier this year.
Kara, representing Israel at Berlin’s annual Festival of Cultures, confirmed to Yediot that he had met with Brinkmann as well as other politicians. Kara said Brinkmann’s ties with neo-Nazis "do not interest me. It is an irrelevant issue."
Brinkmann, who visited Israel with European right-wing populist politicians in February, reportedly has been working to shed the image of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism associated with the far right in hopes of building a coalition against Islam together with Israeli rightists.
Other European right-wing populists, including the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, boast allies in Israeli. Wilders featured a member of Israel’s nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party at his Berlin appearance last fall.
Brinkmann was forced recently to confront criticism of his outreach to Israel coming from the populist camp. In an interview conducted during his Israel trip, Brinkmann told the German right-wing populist website Freiheitlich.org that he had gone there "because we have common roots and common problems." At a meeting of the Likud bloc he "was received with friendly applause," he added.
Brinkmann withdrew in March as head of Germany’s right-wing populist Pro-Deutschland Party after an openly gay politician, Alexander Schlesinger, ran for the party’s seat on a regional assembly. Brinkmann said at the time that he rejected "all forms of decadence, support for National Socialism and anti-Semitism," and lamented the failure to create "a common front of all Islam-critical forces."