Wednesday, 19 Jan 2022 - 17 of Shevat, 5782

German Jewish leader welcomes downward trend of far-right party in Sunday’s election

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What is considered as the ”established” Jewish community has largely favored the CDU to lead Germany, but many Jewish activists have criticized the government’s insistence on maintaining strong business and diplomatic ties with the Iranian regime under SPD’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is rejected by the mainstream Jewish community, has introduced anti-BDS and anti-Hezbollah legislation in the German parliament and voted in favor of an FDP motion to change Germany’s anti-Israel voting pattern in the United Nations. It was the only party to abstain from a parliamentary motion condemning any Israeli plan to apply sovereignty to Jewish communities Judea and Samaria.

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, has expressed relief over the downward trend for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in Sunday’s federal election.

The Social Democratic Party (SPD) headed by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has emerged as the victor of the election. The center-left party secured 25.7 percent of the vote, overtaking Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) by 1.6 percent. The election marked  the defeated conclusion of the Merkel era as her party has suffered a devastating electoral loss of 8.9 points since the 2017 election.

AfD now holds the fifth place at 10.3 percent with a loss of 2 points since 2017, down from the third place which is now taken by the Greens who achieved the best result in their history with 14.8 percent. The liberal FDP party improved to 11.5 percent. The Left Party fell to 4.9 percent. Because it won three direct mandates, it will nevertheless enter the Bundestag with the strength of a parliamentary group.

Schuster said that the AfD’s double-digit performance in the federal election  ‘’was a clear signal that the fight against right-wing populism and right-wing extremism must be stepped up.’’ ‘’It must remain the goal of all democrats to banish the AfD from the Bundestag and from all state parliaments,’’ he said.

The president of the Central Council of Jews, which is the government-funded umbrella Jewish representative body,  criticized the fact that in the Bundestag (the federal parliament) election campaign the important social issues such as combating anti-Semitism, racism and right-wing extremism had played a subordinate role. “All the more reason for the new federal government – regardless of its composition – to quickly address this challenge. This also includes a more comprehensive fight against hate speech on the Internet,’’ he said.

“Strengthening the foundation of our democracy again and stopping radicalization on the right-wing fringe is an urgent task for the new government coalition.”

The parties have stated the coalition negotiation phase, often a painstaking and months-long process. While Scholz’s party received the most votes, CDU’s Armin Laschet has not ruled out replacing his predecessor as Chancellor. The FdP and the Greens enjoy the position of “king-makers” and could thus influence the direction of the traditional “Grand Coalition” of CDU and SPD.

What is considered as the ”established” Jewish community has largely favored the CDU to lead Germany, but many Jewish activists have criticized the government’s insistence on maintaining strong business and diplomatic ties with the Iranian regime under SPD’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

The FdP solidified its pro-Israel credential when it introduced a parliamentary motion to change Germany’s anti-Israel voting patterns in the United Nations, a measure supported only by the AfD, which is considered by some Jews as the most pro-Israel party in the German parliament.

Rafael Korenzecher, publisher of the conservative Germany Jewish monthly, Jüdische Rundschau, totally disagree with Josef Schuster when it comes to the AfD’s rejection by the ‘’Jewish establishment.’’

Recently, about 60 Jewish organizations issued a statement asking Jews not to vote for the AfD, calling it an anti-Semitic and racist party. The AfD is the only party to oppose Merkel’s Muslim immigration.

During Merkel’s last term, AfD introduced anti-BDS and anti-Hezbollah legislation in the German parliament and voted in favor of an FDP motion to change Germany’s anti-Israel voting pattern in the United Nations. It was the only party to abstain from a parliamentary motion condemning any Israeli plan to apply sovereignty to Jewish communities Judea and Samaria.

“The AfD clearly has right-wing problems in the expressions of some of their politicians and that cannot be overlooked,” says Korenzencher. “It’s not tailor-made nor our desired child, but this is what we got if we look at the other parties and their behavior towards Israel and their true behavior towards the Jews.”

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