German Far-Right Leader Stirs Controversy With Antisemitic ‘Judas’ Tweet Aimed at Popular Musician
A leading parliamentarian with the far-right “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) party faced heavy criticism on Monday after he deployed a notorious antisemitic trope in a social media attack on one of Germany’s top recording artists.
Several politicians are demanding the resignation of AfD representative Stephan Brandner from his role as chair of the Legal Committee of the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament, following a tweet last Thursday in which he invoked the Biblical figure of Judas Iscariot — according to Christian tradition, the disciple who betrayed Jesus to the Roman authorities in exchange for financial gain, while remaining a devout Jew. The representation of Judas as emblematic of inherent Jewish deceitfulness became popular in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Brandner’s tweet was aimed at one of Germany’s most popular musicians, Udo Lindenberg, who was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Oct. 2 by the German government. Known for his opposition to the former Soviet satellite regime in East Germany, Lindenberg has more recently voiced concerns about the growing appeal of the far right.
In a Facebook post commenting on the surge in support for the AfD in regional elections last month, Lindenberg wrote, “Do you not see the same old-new slogans on the walls of the houses?” In the same post, he described Björn Höcke — one of the AfD’s most influential regional leaders — as “a real fascist, resurrected from the ruins and facing towards the Nazis.”
In his condemnation of Lindenberg, Brandner asserted that the medal presented to the singer was reminiscent of Judas’s financial gains from his betrayal of Jesus.
Accusing Lindenberg of “drooling against us,” Brandner referred to the award of the medal with the German pejorative “Judaslohn” — “Judas wage.”
Jan-Marco Luczak — deputy spokesman for legal policy for the center-right CDU/CSU coalition — said on Monday that Brandner’s tweet proved he was unfit to occupy a senior committee post in the Bundestag.
“He deliberately plays with antisemitic terms and stirs up resentment,” Luczak remarked. “Dignity and decency are needed to fill the office of [a committee] chairman. Brandner apparently lacks these.”
Klar, warum der gegen uns sabbert/ sabbern muß:
„Der Musiker, der vor wenigen Tagen das Bundesverdienstkreuz von Bundespräsident Frank-Walter Steinmeier erhalten hat…“#Judaslohn https://t.co/MxCPp32d7m
— 🇩🇪 Stephan Brandner 💯% (@StBrandner) October 31, 2019
Johannes Fechner — the spokesman for legal policy of the center-left SPD parliamentary group — told the Handelsblatt newspaper that his party now planned to “address the removal of the Legal Committee chair.” Marco Buschmann — a spokesperson for the liberal FDP party — accused Brandner of “repeatedly playing with antisemitic prejudices,” denouncing his “Judaslohn” post as “simply disgusting and not worthy of the chair of a committee in the Bundestag.”
Brandner’s tweet came amid allegations from the AfD’s opponents that the party’s ultranationalist stance has bolstered neo-Nazi violence in the country. Two people were murdered outside a synagogue in the city of Halle on Oct. 9 by a neo-Nazi gunman, after he failed to break into the building during the middle of Yom Kippur services.
The AfD politician denied that his tweet was motivated by antisemitic intent, pointing out that the term “Judaslohn” had frequently been used by other public figures without controversy.