Germany Parliament Speaker Repeated Tehran ‘Propaganda’ by Blaming Israel for Iran Missile Attack, Critics, Faces Calls to Resign

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The Vice-President of Germany’s parliament has faced calls to step down after she said Israel “provoked” Iran’s enormous missile attack on Sunday.

Aydan Özoğuz, a Turkish-heritage left-wing politician of Germany’s SPD (Social Democrat) party, who now serves as the nation’s Bundestag Vice-President (parliament deputy speaker) faced a barrage of criticism from politicians and Jewish groups after she wrote Israel had provoked the Iranian missile and drone strike. Critics have called for political “consequences” for the comments and its subsequent retraction and non-apology, for her to resign, with some even sardonically noting Özoğuz’s previously publicised familial links to Islamic extremism.

Writing on Sunday as the barrage of projectiles headed towards Israel from Iran, a massive strike which Israel would subsequently report had been “99 per cent” shot down, Özoğuz wrote, “Why did this situation have to be provoked? Bombing of Iran embassy further endangers the Middle East”.

Apparently noticing the outburst was generating controversy online, Özoğuz then deleted the post but stopped short of acknowledging her assertion that Israel brought the strike upon itself was at fault. Instead, she said, her tweet was causing arguments online: “That’s why I deleted my post. The war is bad enough.”

Several political and civil society figures jumped upon the messages, saying they made a mockery of Özoğuz’s senior — and constitutionally impartial — position as vice-president of the nation’s parliament. Professor Stefan Liebig, a professor at the Free University of Berlin, said Özoğuz was using an “old anti-Semitic trope” that Jewish people bring punishment upon themselves through their own actions.

This statement is “unworthy of a representative of a constitutional body” and if Özoğuz had “an ounce of decency” she would resign, the professor said.

Volker Beck, a high-profile former politician who was a top parliamentarian for the left-wing Green Party, a leader of the German lesbian and gay association, and who is now leader of the German–Israeli Society, was biting in his sarcasm when he wrote: “Israel was attacked by Iran tonight. And you said Israel was provoking? Did your brothers hack your account?”.

As widely discussed when Aydan Özoğuz first gained prominence in German politics and became the government’s integration minister, she was born to Turkish ‘guest worker’ migrants who came to Europe in the 1970s — reportedly from a middle-class Turkish family who had lived in an “elite” Istanbul neighbourhood — but rather than drifting into German politics like herself, Özoğuz’s German-born brothers had gravitated to Shia Islamic extremism.

Beck’s remarks were a clear allusion to those brothers Yavuz and Gürhan Özoguz who run an online portal for Muslims in Germany and who have been monitored by Germany’s anti-extremist police. As noted by the Münchner Merkur in 2014, they were accused of being sympathetic “with the Iranian theocracy and spreading anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli propaganda. The pages also called for a boycott of Israeli goods”. One of the brothers received a criminal record and a suspended sentence for spreading hatred in 2004.

Aydan Özoğuz has distanced herself from her brothers and said she did not want to be held responsible for their beliefs, arguing that she should be judged by her own beliefs and actions.

Also criticising Özoğuz for her remarks about Israel on Sunday was German conservative (CDU, the party of Angela Merkel, now out of government) politician Matthias Hauer who called the message “shabby” and “unworthy” of her position. This “serious” message should carry “consequences” for her, he said. The German Jewish civil society group the Values Initiative took a similar line, saying the vice-president was “once again [taking] questionable positions” and that the now-deleted message was an off-guard revelation of her true feelings about Israel and Iran.

They said in their statement: “Israel is fighting against one of the worst terrorist states in the world and she can’t think of anything else to say other than that Israel only has itself to blame. Such an attitude is incompatible with her office and should have consequences.”

A deeply critical commentary in Germany’s broadsheet newspaper of record Die Welt accused “undignified” Özoğuz of — whether knowingly or not — spreading “Iranian propaganda” that followed “the official statement by the Tehran terror regime”. Echoing Beck, the paper said Özoğuz had expressed a “classic perpetrator-victim reversal” and was acting in a manner “unworthy of a Bundestag Vice President”. Welt also noted the silence, otherwise, of the politician’s party the SPD on Israel since the attack.

On Sunday, Iran launched “over 300 drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles” against Israel. Israel, along with a coalition of allies, including the locally deployed assets of the United States Navy, British Royal Navy, and the Kingdom of Jordan, succeeded in shooting down “99 per cent of the threats launched towards Israeli territory”, which Israel hailed as a “very significant strategic achievement.”

Iran claimed the massive strike was “revenge” for the death of a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander who died in a blast in Damascus, Syria earlier this month.


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