Jews Cast Wary Eye on German Election Results, With Strong Showing of Far-Right AfD Party
As expected, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was reelected on Sunday to a fourth term in office in her country’s federal election, but many Jewish observers received the results with concern, due to the strong showing of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
The latest tally — as of press time — showed the 63-year-old Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union getting around 33 percent of the vote, with Martin Schulz’s Social Democratic Party coming in second at around 21 percent. Merkel has served as chancellor since 2005.
The populist and Eurosceptic AfD — which was founded in 2013 — finished third, notching 13 percent support.
All mainstream parties have ruled out forming a coalition with AfD, which will become the first far-right party to enter the Bundestag since the end of World War II.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt called the AfD’s success “a disturbing milestone in modern German politics.”
“The AfD is proudly extremist, anti-immigrant, and anti-minority,” Greenblatt noted. “Its leaders have made antisemitic statements and played down the evil of the Nazi regime.”
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder stated, “It is abhorrent that the AfD party, a disgraceful reactionary movement which recalls the worst of Germany’s past and should be outlawed, now has the ability within the German parliament to promote its vile platform.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Merkel on her reelection, lauding her as “true friend of Israel.” He did not mention the AfD.
Congratulations to Angela #Merkel , a true friend of Israel, on her re-election as Chancellor of Germany.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) September 24, 2017
Ahead of the voting on Sunday, Rabbi Shmuel Segal — a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Berlin — told Israel’s Channel 2 he hoped “all sane forces in Germany will unite to turn this party into a passing trend.”
Two Israelis living in Berlin expressed concern to Channel 2 that the AfD’s anti-Muslim migrant stance would be turned against Jews.
A group of 35 German rabbis, the Channel 2 report said, had issued a call for Jews to vote to weaken the power of extremist parties.
Last year, a German Jewish leader called the AfD’s success in a state election in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern “a nightmare come true.”
“It is pathetic when a party — in which xenophobia, antisemitism, racism, homophobia, historical denialism and conspiracy theories are the basis for argument — can become such a strong social and political influence,” Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, was quoted as saying by The Local.