Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO
Israeli President Isaac Herzog and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin on Sept. 4, 2022

The heated debate over the widening scandal involving Germany’s foreign ministry and its NGO German-Israel Friendship Association’s alleged boycott of the Israeli Zionist organization Im Tirtzu prompted Likud MK Ariel Kallner to call for a special investigation.



Kallner, chairman of “Zionist Horizon,” told The Jewish Press that “With friends like these, who needs enemies? The investigation of the Im Tirtzu Movement reveals a very disturbing picture: the German-Israel Friendship Assocation (DIG) under the leadership of Mr. [Volker] Beck is not a supporter of Israel at all, but is completely intertwined with the left-wing side in Israel and denies the legitimacy of right-wing Zionist positions such as support for the Jerusalem flag march. The exposé revealed by the Im Tirtzu movement on the German ‘price tag’actions, is that of a blood libel.”

The leftist German Green party politician Beck accused Im Tirtzu on an audio recording obtained by The Jewish Press of sending a “Price Tag” message to the “Israeli left,” saying Im Tirtzu left a sign for Israeli leftists with the motto “Watch out, we were there.” Beck offered no evidence for his claim.

Kallner added “Those who call themselves friends of Israel cannot boycott Zionist organizations from the right side of the map and accept the controversial activity of the New Israel Fund as legitimate. Beck’s words regarding the sanctions on behalf of the German Foreign Ministry require a special investigation and if they are true, then the State of Israel cannot let pass them by in silence.”

Kallner issued his statement prior to the formation of the new Israeli government in late December.

Im Tirtzu alleges that Volker Beck and the national DIG executive board members intervened to ban Yonathan Shay, the head of the Im Tirtzu Hasbara (Israel Advocacy) Department from speaking in Germany. A number of local DIG chapters had invited Shay, who is a fluent German speaker, to deliver talks.

In the audio recording obtained by The Jewish Press, Beck said about rejecting Shay: “We wanted to explain again why we decided not to grant the application…And I don’t want to hide it, there was also a little apprehension from the Foreign Office when we let Yonas Shay train us there.”

Beck added that “We are just under observation by the foreign office.”

A spokesperson for the German foreign ministry told The Jewish News: “The German-Israel Association has been institutionally funded by the Federal Foreign Office since 2012. Projects that go beyond this are applied for and approved on a case-by-case basis. However, the Federal Foreign Office has not received any application for funding for the lecture tour mentioned. Of course, the Federal Foreign Office does not put any pressure on its partners and does not maintain any lists like the ones you mentioned.”

The German foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a Jewish Press query about Kallner.Volker Beck and the executive board of the DIG refused to comment in response to Kallner’s criticism.

Im Tirtzu was founded in 2006. It is a grassroots organization with 6,000 volunteers and chapters on 20 college campuses. The mission of Im Tirtzu, according to a statement on its website, is “to strengthen the values of Zionism in Israel as a Jewish democratic state.”

In early December, Israeli MK and current minister of Diaspora affairs, Amichai Chikli, blasted the German government and the DIG. Chikli told Arutz Sheva “The incessant involvement of the German government and agents on its behalf in internal political issues in Israel through various funds and even more so under the guise of ‘pro-Israel’ organizations such as the DIG, which boycotts conservaftive Zionists organizations in Israel such as Im Tirtzu and its employees, crosses every political line.”

Matan Peleg, CEO of IM Tirtzu, has documented in his new book “State for Sale” the potent role of German government funded NGOs who are reportedly involved in the delegitimization of Israel.

The DIG President Volker Beck has been embroiled in scandals over the years.  Beck advocated for the decriminalization of laws that bar adults from having sex with children.!5682508/

According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, Beck “deceived the public” about his role in promoting pedophilia in his essay.

The German high court ruled that Spiegel could publish Beck’s pro-pedophilia essay.!5682508/

Manny Waks, an Israeli who founded Tzedek, an advocacy organisation for Jewish victims and surviviors of child abuse, told The Jewish Press with respect to Beck:

“Anyone advocating for the legalisation of pedophilia is completely misguided and unfit for any leadership position. ”

Beck claims that he no longer supports pedophilia. When asked if he apologized to the German victims of  pedophilia, Beck refused to comment.Beck also declined to respond to Waks’s statement.

Beck also supports the allegedly antisemitic German bureaucrat Michael Blume, who is supposed to fight antisemitism in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center and a court in Hamburg, Blume stokes antisemitism.

The Wiesenthal Center listed Blume as the seventh worst of outbreak of antisemitism in 2021 for his anti-Jewish and anti-Israel activities. In January, a German court in Hamburg added new evidence to the Wiesenthal’s list , deeming Blume is antisemitic because he compared the German Jewish activist Malca Goldstein-Wolf with the Nazi mass murderer Adolf Eichmann.

Blume also termed some German Jews “right-wing extremists” without evidence.

The prominent German Jewish journalist, Henryk M. Broder, wrote on the popular news and commentary website “Die Achse des Guten” (The Axis of Good) that Blume “practices selective antisemitism” because he targets conservative and right-wing Jews.

The court also said Blume’s description of the Israeli national hero Orde Wingate as a “war crimimal” can form the basis for designating Blume antisemitic. Wingate is widely considered the “father of the IDF” in Israel.


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Benjamin Weinthal is a Writing Fellow for the Middle East Forum.