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August 17, 2020 11:08 am

‘We Reject You,’ Israeli Ambassador to Germany Bluntly Tells Far-Right AfD Party

avatar by Ben Cohen

An election campaign event held by Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in Cottbus, Germany, July 13, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Hannibal Hanschke.

Israel’s ambassador to Germany has bluntly told the country’s main far-right party that the Jewish state rejected its overtures and held it responsible for growing extremist violence.

In an extensive interview with the Berliner Zeitung published on Saturday, Jeremy Issacharoff — who has served as Israel’s envoy in Germany since 2017 — emphasized that Israel had not been seduced by pro-Israel statements uttered by some leaders of the far-right, anti-immigrant AfD (Alternative for Germany) Party, whose representatives currently occupy 97 of the more than 700 seats in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag.

“It’s a well-known scheme: you portray yourself as Israel’s friend in order to cover up antisemitic tendencies,” Issacharoff remarked.

He continued: “With its rhetoric, the AfD has contributed to a more aggressive climate in German society today. People invoke the slogans of the AfD and commit acts of violence. Therefore we reject any contact with the AfD.”

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Several AfD leaders have attempted to play down or whitewash the systemic brutality of Germany’s 12-year period under Nazi rule.

In 2017, one the AfD’s most outspoken regional leaders, Björn Höcke, sparked outrage when he declared himself disgusted by Berlin’s memorial to the Nazi Holocaust. “We Germans are the only people in the world to have planted a monument of shame in the heart of their capital,” Höcke said.

Similar sentiments were also expressed by Alexander Gauland, the leader of the AfD’s parliamentary faction, who dismissed the Nazi era as a “speck of bird poop” on Germany’s “glorious history” in a speech in 2018.

Issacharoff commented, “Today there are again politicians in Germany, like some in the AfD, who talk down the crimes of the Wehrmacht or call the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin a ‘disgrace.’ There appears to be a nostalgia for the Nazi past.”

The ambassador added that the AfD’s rhetorical outbursts had undermined “a consensus among the established parties in Germany that the victims of the Shoah were treated with respect.”

“I find it disturbing that politicians negate the necessity of commemoration,” Issacharoff said.

Asked for his thoughts on left-wing antisemitism, Issacharoff highlighted the “BDS” campaign to subject Israel to a comprehensive boycott as a prime example.

“Antisemites often hide behind the BDS movement,” he said. “We have many groups in Israel who argue with each other. I speak with Palestinians, with Arabs. But with any group says that it basically wants to destroy Israel, there can be no dialogue. This is about burning bridges, not building them.”

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