BERLIN – The race leading to Sunday’s vote for the German capital’s House of
Deputies has been plagued by anti-Jewish campaign posters associated with the
neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD). The 141 legislators will choose the
A new party – BIG – is dominated by disaffected
social-democratic German-Muslims who advocate an anti-gay school curriculum and
have ties with the radical Turkish Islamic organization Milli Görüs (“National
Vision”). BIG is a German abbreviation for Alliance for Innovation and
The Green Party candidate for mayor, Renate Künast, in 2009
allegedly called a pro-Israel German NGO a Mossad-backed organization. Künast
denied making the statement.
The Left Party’s national leaders have been
engulfed in a series of anti-Semitism scandals involving the party’s failure to
assertively confront members and politicians calling for a boycott of the Jewish
state, and their support for equating Israel’s policies with those of Nazi
Germany. The Left Party’s federal leaders are reeling from a controversy
involving their praise of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Gesine Lötzsch and
Klaus Ernst, the cochairs of the Left Party, wrote Castro on the occasion of his
85th birthday that he is a model “for many nations in the world.”
continued that “You can look back proudly on your life of battles and successful
action at the head of the Cuban revolution.”
Lötzsch is a supporter of
the radical leftist activists, including German Left Party deputies, who were
aboard the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara
last year and sought to break Israel’s
blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The NPD has stirred the most
controversy with its election posters in Berlin, showing the party’s leader, Udo
Voigt, on a motorcycle with the words, “Step on the gas” (Gas Geben
). Some say
the NPD is using the gas slogan to conjure up the Nazis’ extermination
Dr. Dieter Graumann, the head of the Central Council of Jews in
Germany, called for the NPD to be outlawed and banned from public
It cannot get more “crude and disgusting” when the NPD can
blanket Berlin with its “Step on the gas” election posters, Graumann said. The
NPD “deliberately hangs these posters in the area of the Holocaust memorial and
near the Jewish Museum,” he said.
Lala Süsskind, the head of Berlin’s
Jewish community, said the NPD posters are “dehumanizing,” and that there have
many outraged members of the community who want to see action taken against the
The German capital is also one of 16 states in the Federal
Republic. The current Social Democratic-Left Party government – the so-called
“Red-Red coalition” – is on shaky ground. According to a recent Infratest Dimap
political research company election survey, the Left Party would secure 11
percent of the vote. The Social Democrats led with 29.5% and the Christian
Social Union garnered 22% of the support. The Green Party has scored impressive
results, with 20% of those surveyed supporting it.
The pro-business Free
Democrats are plummeting in the polls, with a mere 3% of the respondents saying
they will vote for it. A party requires at least 5% of the vote to receive
representation in the Berlin House of Deputies.
A fiercely unorthodox
party, The Pirates, in expected, with a projected 6.5% of the vote, to win
representation for the first time.
The Pirate party, which consists of
Internet activists, calls for strict online privacy protections, strengthening
copyright laws, and enhanced grassroots democracy, has catapulted itself into
the talk of the town.
The Green Party has ruled out a coalition with the
Christian Democrats, setting the stage for a possible Social Democratic- Green
Berlin’s openly gay Mayor Klaus Wowereit, 57, from the
Social Democrats, is widely viewed as Israel friendly. He spent time in the
Jewish state as a young man and criticized expressions of modern anti- Semitism
in the capital.
Last year, the Danish street art duo “Surrend” plastered
selected Berlin neighborhoods with maps of the Middle East in which the State of
Israel does not appear, with the term “Final Solution” at the top.
artists, Jan Egesborg and Pia Bertelsen, were accused of fomenting genocidal
anti-Semitism with their provocative “art in hot spots,” by employing hate art
to garner support from neo-Nazi members of the NPD, extreme left-wing activists,
and radical Islamists. Egesborg denied seeking to form alliances with extremist
Wowereit told The Jerusalem Post
at the time that “there cannot
be any doubt regarding Israel’s right to exist. This form of satire is not what
He has also reached out to gay Israelis and promoted Berlin-Tel
Aviv relations. At Berlin’s annual gay Christopher Street Day Parade in June,
Wowereit said, “Tel Aviv is a wonderful, lively city,” and that he enjoys the
close relations between the cities. He noted that in both countries, Germany and
Israel, minorities are accepted.
The Islamic BIG party wants to introduce
a school program to “protect all children” against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
The party opposes school books that show children with two fathers, and role
playing involving “coming out” meant to help children overcome bias against
The BIG party was formed in Cologne in 2010 and is
affiliated with radical Turkish organization Milli Görüs.