Alexander Gauland, top candidate of the anti-immigration party Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) speaks during a news conference in Berlin, Germany, September 25, 2017..
(photo credit: WOLFGANG RATTAY / REUTERS)
Former Israeli minister and intelligence officer Rafael Eitan, who was in charge of the Mossad operation that led to the capture of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina, drew heavy criticism over the weekend after publicly praising the populist right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) at an event marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the German lower house of parliament, the Bundestag.
Eitan, who was scheduled to attend the event last Thursday but couldn't appear in person due to illness, addressed the parliament through a video message and a letter saying that “the AfD is a great hope for many people, not only in Germany, but also for us in Israel and in many Western countries, above all in order to stop the false and dangerous policy of open borders. The policiy of open borders destabilizes the whole world.”
In his message, he applauded the AfD’s pledge to protect the Jewish community, “especially against the new and violent threat from Islamists” and as "Germany's friend" suggested that they close their borders, find a solution for asylum seekers outside their borders and to include other Muslim countries in doing so.
Former Mossad Agent Rafael Eitan praising the German far-right nationalist AfD party (Alternative Fakten/Youtube)
Faction leader Alexander Gauland thanked Eitan for his support, noting that the encouragement received from Israel and from Berlin's Jewish community was proof that the party was on the right track.
He added that “Islamic antisemitism today is aggressive and threatens not only Jews, but also Christians and all peaceful citizens. This ideology is incompatible with an open and peaceful society like today's Germany,” criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to allow over a million asylum seekers into the country.
“I wish from the bottom of my heart that you will be strong enough to end the policy of open borders, to stop the further Islamization of your country, and protect your citizens from terrorism and crime. Let's do this together.”
Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, decried Eitan's remarks as "sad and shameful" saying "I fully object to Rafi Eitan’s statement made earlier. I find it hard to imagine how the man who caught Eichmann bringing him to trial in Israel, would praise Germans that are proud of the Nazi past and hope that such views could be an alternative for Europe! Sad and shameful." The tweet was liked and retweeted by several other Israeli ambassadors as well as foreign ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nachshon.
The AfD, a far-right German nationalist party which has frequently been called out for its racist, Islamophobic, antisemitic and xenophobic tendencies, and which strongly opposes Muslim immigration, won 92 out of 709 seats in the German Bundestag
in elections last year.
According to Yediot Aharonot
Rafi Eitan was not aware of antisemitic comments made by AfD members and clarified that he was not concerned by the ties AfD members had to Nazis.
Holocaust survivor and former Berlin Rabbi Chaim Rozwaski also attended the AfD event, commenting that "Antisemitism in Germany has risen exponentially, Jewish children are afraid in the streets nowadays." Adding that antisemitism is often expressed in anti-Israel sentiments, he noted that "they say Israel and they mean Jews," according to the Junge Freiheit.
Michael Kleiner, a former member of the Likud party and President of the Likud Supreme Court who later split off from the party to establish Herut, was also supposed to speak at the event but had to cancel for a "family emergency." However, he was still spotted in Berlin the next day.