Germany / 12-02-2012
German politician resigns
Berlin – A Twitter scandal caused a local antisemitic and anti-Israel German politician from the Pirate Party to resign his post last week as newly elected chairman of the regional branch of the party in the city of Heidenheim, located in the southern state of Baden- Württemberg.
Kevin Barth, the Pirate politician, wrote on his Twitter micro-blog in late January, “Okay. So I’m an antisemite because I dislike the Israeli crap politics and the Jew himself because he’s waging a senseless war.”
In response to the 22-year-old Barth’s Twitter statement, the Pirate Party wrote last week that “blanket antisemitic statements were brought to light” and, as a result, of heavy criticism from both inside and outside of the party, Barth resigned from his post. The Pirate Party did not name Barth himself in its statement rejecting his antisemitic comments. According to the party, “antisemitism and racism have no place in the Pirate Party or in a democracy.”
The Pirate Party seeks to promote Internet freedom and scored a major victory last September in Berlin. The alternative party secured 8.9% of the vote in the local Berlin election, catapulting the party into the Berlin local Senate government. National polls show that the Pirates could reach the 5% threshold in a national election, ensuring representation in the Federal Bundestag in the 2013 election round.
The scandal surrounding Barth was picked up by many German news outlets last week.
The party has been rocked by anti-Semitic comments directed at Marina Weisband, a young German Jewish member of the Pirate Party and former senator for the Pirates in Berlin. The 24- year-old Ukrainian-born Weisband, who is widely viewed as a rising political star in the Federal Republic, resigned her position in the Senate to pursue her academic degree. According to Weisband, she received antisemitic hate-mail. She wears a Star of David necklace and publicly embraces her Judaism.
She told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper in late January that “I have received hate-mail. My photo was displayed on right-wing extremist websites. Next to the photo were texts about how the Jews would like to conquer the German political landscape.”
In a February article in Germany’s main Jewish weekly, Jüdische Allgemeine Zeitung, Weisband told the newspaper’s reporter Elke Wittich that there are “anti- Zionists in the party.” Weisband added that “of course, I see antisemitism and anti-Zionism as a serious problem that strongly affects many other Jews.”