A German pro-Israel grassroots organization has initiated an original campaign to fight the various anti-Israel boycotts being promoted among German-speakers worldwide. Chosen in the month of Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, their slogan is a twist on a Nazi-era rallying cry.
Earlier this month, German Media Watch (GMW) drew up a list of companies selling Israeli products and published it on the organization's website under the slogan Kauft viel bei Juden - "Buy Much From the Jews". In an exclusive interview with Israel National News, a co-founder of GMW, Markus Vallen, explained the idea.
"The Kauft viel bei Juden campaign was started in April 2009," Vallen said. "The idea was born with the ascension of yet another 'boycott Israel' campaign. The slogan was 'borrowed' from the notorious Nazi boycott slogan [Kauft nicht bei Juden - 'Don't buy from Jews' - ed.]."
GMW members noted that "in recent years there were several occasions when individuals from the pro-Israel camp wrote in forums or blog comments that some supermarket chains were selling Israeli goods," according to Vallen. "With the Kauft bei Juden campaign we provide friends of Israel a more stable and reliable source for showing their support."
The GMW list is open to any company that sells Israeli goods, as long as they cater to the German, Austrian or Swiss markets. Other categories on the list are kosher restaurants and markets in the German-speaking countries, Israeli hotels, banks and other companies with German branches, as well as travel agencies that specialize in tourism to Israel and even places to stay in the country.
Supermarket chains were contacted directly by GMW activists. Some qualifying chains are not on the list, because they "seemed quite reluctant to reveal information on the Israeli goods they sell," Vallen revealed.
The media watchdog group GMW was founded by Vallen and Kerstin Heimbold in 2001. Both Heimbold and Vallen had been active in pro-Israel circles in Germany for some years, but they took to the Internet to inform German-speakers about the misleading depiction of Israel in German mainstream media.
"From the beginning, GMW's activities included monitoring of media, politicians, organizations and individuals in German-speaking countries - Germany, Austria, Switzerland - and reacting in writing and even legal charges against some individuals," Vallen said. "The aim of all activities is to demand entry for objectivity in reporting and debate." Working towards that end has led to close contact with politicians and editors who share Heimboldt's and Vallen's concerns.
Asked by Israel National News if GMW has encountered any opposition to the Kauft viel bei Juden campaign, Vallen replied, "There hasn't been any negative reaction to the campaign - yet. But the campaign is still fresh and there might be some problems in the future, as there have been in connection with previous activities."
Heimboldt and Vallen say they have encountered some threats due to their past activities and expect the reaction this time to be no different. They also recognize the risk that their pro-Israel list will be picked up by neo-Nazis and Islamists, who will simply use it for their own anti-Jewish campaigns; however, the activists were unwilling to let that concern prevent them from encouraging others to support Israel.
Fred Taub, the president of Boycott Watch, commented, "Any website which promotes Israeli products encourages people in the Middle East. If you want an actual peace, there must be a basis for sustaining that peace by making war too expensive in the cost to the economy. The Arab boycott of Israel is the number one impediment to peace in the Middle East."
Herbert Eiteneier provided invaluable assistance in the preparation of this report.