An anti-Israel event scheduled to be held next week in the German Parliament by the country’s far left political party was cancelled on Thursday after party leaders learned that controversial American anti-Israel activist Max Blumenthal had been invited to attend, according to German media reports.
Blumenthal, an anti-Israel activist who has compared the Jewish State to Nazi Germany, had been invited to speak at the event by members of Germany’s Left Party, the East German Communist Party’s successor.
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The event was to focus on Palestinian statehood and was scheduled to take place on Monday, the day after the commemoration of Kristallnacht, in which Nazis murdered Jews and ransacked their businesses.
However, Gregor Gysi, the Left Party’s leader, put a stop to the event early Thursday, telling Germany-based reporter Benjamin Weinthal that "the event will not take place," according to a Berlin newspaper report headlined, "Gysi Stops Conference of ‘Israel Haters.’"
Observers expressed surprise that the far left wing political party—which is often critical of Israel and has been accused of anti-Semitism itself—would find Blumenthal out of bounds.
"Gregor Gysi carved a line in the sand and is going to great efforts now to stem a rising level of Israel hatred not only within the party, but also across Germany," Weinthal told the Washington Free Beacon.
"It’s a significant move for Gysi to pull the plug on Blumenthal’s presentation and sends a message … that state-sanctioned, or in this case political-party-sanctioned, anti-Semitism will not be tolerated," said Weinthal, who also serves as a research fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
"It’s quite remarkable because this is a party that has tolerated enormous amounts of anti-Semitism and loathing of Israel," Weinthal explained. "And its most charismatic and top leader sent a signal that Max Blumenthal is such a fringe personality that his views cannot be taken seriously in Germany."
Blumenthal had been invited to the event by Left Party parliament members Inge Hoeger and Annette Groth, anti-Israel activists who were both aboard the ill-fated Mavi Marmara flotilla that attempted to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza in 2010 and became entangled in an armed conflict with Israeli authorities.
Hoeger and Groth had invited Blumenthal to the party’s meeting room in the parliament building to discuss potential German recognition of the State of Palestine, according to Weinthal’s report.
German and American human rights activists had expressed opposition to Blumenthal’s presence at the event and urged political leaders to condemn him.
Left Party Leader Gysi’s decision to cancel the event was applauded by human rights organizations, such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which works to combat anti-Semitism and has listed Blumenthal as one of the world’s top ten anti-Semites.
"The fact he [Gysi] put down a redline is important not only for Germany, but hopefully an important statement from a progressive that there are limits when it comes to criticizing Israel," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean.
It is "beyond the pale," Cooper said, to host a person "who conflates the Shoah [Holocaust] and Holocaust imagery with phantom Israeli crimes."
The intention to hold the event the day after commemorations of Kristallnacht only heightened the sensitivity of the issue, Cooper said.
"The fact they had the chutzpah to book him in the Bundestag [German Parliament] the day after November 9th is not just meant as a slap against Israel, but is an anti-Semitic act by leading German politicians," Cooper said. "It’s as if they wanted to channel their hate through somebody whose last name is ‘Blumenthal.’"
Blumenthal, who is the son Clinton family confidante Sidney Blumenthal, recently released the anti-Israel book Goliath, which included chapter titles such as "The Concentration Camp" and "The Night of Broken Glass."