Head of German Jewish Council Says Extreme Right Poses ‘Greatest Danger’ to Community
In a newspaper interview published over the weekend, the head of Germany’s Jewish community stated that right-wing extremism posed the “greatest danger” to Germany and its Jews.
Josef Schuster, head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, also charged that the nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party — a growing force in the country’s politics — was closely tied to the far right.
“In my view, the AfD is much more closely interwoven with right-wing extremism than it appears,” Josef Schuster, head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, told the Welt am Sonntag paper. “The party incites fears and promotes a climate of exclusion of minorities,” he added.
Antisemitic incidents in Germany increased by nearly 20 percent in 2018, with almost 1,800 attacks recorded that ranged from verbal abuse to physical violence.
The problem was highlighted earlier this year when Felix Klein, Germany’s top official for fighting antisemitism, created a controversy by saying, “I cannot advise Jews to wear the kippah everywhere all the time in Germany.”
Klein later clarified that he meant his remarks to be a “call to action” for Germans to act against antisemitism.
Schuster’s warning comes in advance of regional elections scheduled for September 1 in which AfD, currently Germany’s largest opposition party, is expected to do well. AfD is polling at 25 percent in the eastern German state of Saxony, behind the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
The German-Jewish leader warned other parties not to join in a coalition with AfD as that would move the other parties further to the right.
Schuster also urged greater integration of Muslims into German society in order to fight extremism.
“All people who come to Germany and live here should adhere to the nation’s values, including recognition of the equal rights of men and women, opposing all forms of antisemitism and racism, recognizing the rule of law and accepting the diversity of sexual orientations,” Schuster argued. “To convey this system of values is the ultimate purpose of all integration measures.”