2017-09-27 / Editorial

We are alarmed by far-right group’s showing in Germany’s election


A far-right party in Germany will have representation in the democratic nation’s parliament for the first time since the 1950s, and Jews worldwide should be alarmed.

Riding on a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment and economic uncertainty that has taken hold worldwide, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) placed third in recent federal elections, garnering 13.1 percent of the popular vote. Although Angela Merkel, considered a strong supporter of Israel and Jews, secured the chancellorship for a fourth term, the AfD’s showing is a worrisome development.

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress stated: “It is abhorrent that the AfD party, a disgraceful reactionary movement which recalls the worst of Germany’s past and should be outlawed, now has the ability within the German parliament to promote its vile platform.”

The European Jewish Congress urged the other winning parties in the Bundestag not to form an alliance with the AfD.

Although AfD’s co-leader Alexander Gauland has stated expressly that Jews have nothing to fear from the party’s platform, its anti-immigration stance is counter Jewish teachings to welcome the stranger. Indeed, recognizing the humanity in all people is a central teaching of Holocaust education resulting from the last time the extreme right rose to power in Germany.

So while the AfD is not an imminent threat today to Jews in Germany, we must join other interfaith leaders in condemnation of the party. History has shown time and again that extreme nationalist groups pose a danger to all people that they do not consider “one of them.” Even at times when the threat to Jews is not overtly apparent, it is never far from rearing its ugly head. Sadly we found that out over the summer here in the United States when a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville turned deadly.

We must be ever vigilant to protect the rights of everyone. 

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