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For the First Time in Over Six Decades, the Far Right Returns to German Politics

Sept. 27 2017

The national elections in Germany last Sunday unsurprisingly resulted in a victory for the current chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. But there were also less expected results: both the center-right Christian Democrats and their major rival, the center-left Social Democrats, garnered many fewer votes than in previous elections, while the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) came in third, with 13 percent of the votes. This will be the first time since the 1950s that a hard-right party has sat in the Bundestag. James Kirchick comments:

The decline of the two [major political parties] has coincided with a movement toward the extremes, with voters flocking to the AfD and the post-Communist [and virulently anti-Israel] Left party. . . .

Initially founded by a group of conservative economists wanting to pull Germany out of the Eurozone, the AfD didn’t even clear the 5-percent threshold required to enter the Bundestag at the last federal election in 2013. Its appeal broadened, however, in the wake of the 2015-2016 refugee crisis, particularly after Merkel opened Germany’s borders to some one million mostly Muslim migrants. A series of highly-publicized crimes involving migrants, most notably a mass sexual assault in Cologne and a terrorist attack in Berlin last Christmas, led to a transformation of the AfD from a party mainly focused on bringing back the Deutschemark into [an] ethno-nationalist bloc. . . .

While the AfD’s main scapegoats are Muslims, Jews aren’t far behind. This being Germany, however, AfD leaders must couch their anti-Semitism in ways that skillfully skirt the country’s stringent hate-speech laws. Their anti-Semitism has thus taken the form of historical revisionism and attacks on Germany’s remembrance culture. The most fearsome example was a speech delivered by a regional party leader earlier this year. . . . “Until now, our mental state continues to be that of a totally defeated people. We Germans are the only people in the world that have planted a monument of shame in the heart of their capital,” he said, referring to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which occupies an entire city block in central Berlin.

Another AfD member set to enter parliament, Martin Hohmann, was expelled from the Christian Democrats in 2003 after delivering a speech wherein he disputed the notion that Germany is a “nation of perpetrators” by arguing that one could say the same about the Jews, who, after all, played a disproportionate role in the Bolshevik revolution. Earlier this month, [the] party leader Alexander Gauland . . . declared that “we have a right to be proud of the achievements of German soldiers in two world wars.” . . . . To top it off, the party is anti-American, anti-NATO, and pro-Putin.

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More about: Angela Merkel, Anti-Semitism, Germany, Politics & Current Affairs

Germany’s Bid to Keep Israel off the UN Security Council

March 21 2018

The Jewish state has never held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. For the first 50 years of its existence, it was denied membership in any of the UN’s regional groups, which control candidacies for these rotating seats. Then it was finally admitted to the Western European and Others Group, which promptly agreed to wait another twenty years before approving Jerusalem for a Security Council candidacy. Now, Benny Avni notes, Germany is poised to block action:

As a good-faith gesture, the Western European and Others Group promised Israel that it and Belgium would run uncontested for the two open 2019-20 [Security Council] seats. Then, in 2016, Germany announced it would also run—even though it already served as a council member [multiple times, including] as recently as 2011-12. . . . [U]nless Belgium yields, Israel’s hopes for UN respect seem doomed for now—and maybe for the foreseeable future.

Why? Diplomats have been telling me Israel violates too many Security Council resolutions to be a member—as in the one passed during the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, which marked Jewish holy sites as occupied Palestinian territory. But is building a porch in [the West Bank town of] Ma’ale Adumim really such a huge threat to world peace?

How about, then, a report released last week by UN experts on the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions? It found Germany violated a council ban on sparkling wines, exporting $151,840 worth of bubbly and other luxury goods to Kim Jong Un’s cronies. Or how about, as the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal reports, German companies exporting to Iran banned materials that were later used in chemical attacks in Syria?

Never mind. Germany (and Belgium) will surely benefit from the UN’s habit of magnifying Israel’s violations beyond all proportion. Thus, Israel’s petition to join the most prestigious UN club will likely be rejected, thanks to a late entry by a shameless [and] cynical German power play against the Jewish state.

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More about: Germany, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-German relations, United Nations