German Jewish leader slams Obama Mideast policy

16th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

Kramer said Obama risked exacerbating Middle East tensions with his "skewed" take on the conflict.

Berlin -- A leading member of Germany's Jewish community has blasted US President Barack Obama's Middle East policy and accused him of equating the treatment of Palestinians with that of Jews in the Holocaust.

"Relations between the United States and Israel are more strained than they have been in a long time," Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the country's foremost Jewish group, wrote in the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel in a column to appear Tuesday.

Kramer said Obama risked exacerbating Middle East tensions with his "skewed" take on the conflict.

"The president called Israelis and Palestinians as 'two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history'," Kramer said, referring to Obama's address to Muslims in Cairo this month.

"By equating the Jewish people's fate including the Holocaust with the situation of the Palestinians shows a skewed emotional take on the situation."

Kramer also accused Obama of political cynicism by calling for an end to Israeli settlements in occupied territory.

"It cannot be ruled out that the United States is consciously trying to push Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's back against the wall to score points with the Muslim world," he wrote.

"Now Washington must decide whether it sees Netanyahu's partial concession (backing a Palestinian state in a speech Sunday) as a success and relays the legitimate Israeli demands to the Palestinians, or whether it will continue to push Netanyahu's back to the wall over his settlement policy.

"In the latter case, an escalation of the Middle East conflict would only be a matter of time. In such a complex region like the Middle East, well-intentioned is not good enough."

The White House Monday welcomed Netanyahu's conditional endorsement of the principle of Palestinian statehood, but warned of a "long way to go" in peace talks.

The Nazis' drive to wipe out European Jewry during World War II decimated the German Jewish population. But immigration from Eastern Europe in the 20 years since the Berlin Wall fell has led the community to grow to around 110,000 members.


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