One of the most prominent pro-Israel politicians in Germany, Volker Beck, resigned from his post as chairman of the Bundestag’s German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group last week after being checked for possession of crystal meth.
MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), the chairman of the Knesset’s Israeli-German Parliamentary Friendship Group, called the news unfortunate.
In a letter to Beck, Shai wrote: “In your many years in the Bundestag, you proved that you are not only a parliamentarian who is faithful to his conscience, but that you are a true friend of the Jewish People and its state.
“You acted tirelessly, honestly and with admirable courage,” Shai added. “In my name and that of my colleagues… we wish to express our appreciation for your friendship.”
German daily Bild reported on March 2 that German police found a substance that is likely crystal meth on Beck’s person.
Beck wrote on Facebook that he is resigning as chairman of the parliamentary friendship group, as well as his other positions as the Greens’ spokesman for interior and religious affairs. He remains an MP.
“I have always represented a liberal drug policy,” he wrote. “In connection with the accusations against me, my lawyer will, in due course, provide an explanation to the public prosecutor. I will not publicly comment.”
The day before, Beck addressed 150 members of the Rabbinical Conference of Europe in Berlin.
Beck, 55, has been a member of the Bundestag since 1994 and chairman of the Bundestag’s German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group since 2014.
Stefanie Galla, a Cologne-based lawyer and publicist who has written about Israel for German media outlets, said that Beck was “the only politician in the Bundestag who constantly tried to generate an understanding of the situation in Israel…and has used every opportunity to point to the fact that Israel is the object of massive challenges and that people should treat Israel fairly and in the same way as they do other countries in comparable situations, that they should not operate with double standards against Israel.”
Galla added that Volker’s pro-Israel voice is already missed, as she did not read or hear any federal politicians condemn this week’s terrorist attacks in Israel.
As for a possible replacement for Beck, which has yet to be announced, Galla said that the Greens could decide to return him to his post at the head of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group. She expressed confidence that Beck will continue to speak out in defense of Israel, but that if he is no longer the head of the parliamentary group, he will have less influence in the Bundestag and German public.
“For Israel and the Jews in Germany, because of his fight against anti-Semitism, it would be a bitter loss,” she wrote in an e-mail.
JTA contributed to this report.