A demonstrator protests against anti-immigration party Alternative fuer Deutschland in Germany.
(photo credit: HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/REUTERS)
Israeli opposition lawmakers expressed concern over the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which came in third place in Sunday’s German election.
The far Right has not been represented in the two houses of Germany’s legislature since the 1950s.
MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), chairman of the Israel-Germany Parliamentary Friendship Group, said he respected the results of Germany’s democratic election but saw them as a warning sign.
“The rising strength of the extreme Right in Germany teaches us about a growing, dangerous atmosphere,” Shai said. “Xenophobia, racism and extremism are conquering a significant portion of the German public and prove that the democratic layer is fragile and vulnerable.”
He added that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he called one of Israel’s greatest friends in the world, must spend the coming term examining the change in her country and blocking its rightward drift.
Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni expressed confidence that “just as [Merkel] knew to courageously stand up for her values, she will also know how to deal with the worrying rise of the extreme, antisemitic Right.”
MK and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid tweeted congratulations to Merkel on her election to a fourth term in office, but added in Hebrew: “An important challenge stands before Germany: to eradicate the strengthening extreme Right in their land.”
Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz tweeted in German: “This election is a bad day for German democracy, with the entry of xenophobes and open antisemites into the Bundestag.”
MK Dov Henin of the Joint List, who identifies as a communist, said: “The ugly wave of the racist, antisemitic and Islamophobic Right is growing in the whole world and is an expression of a deep crisis in the system. The answer cannot be rallying around a disappointing social order; rather, an alternative of real change in the other direction.”
Likud MK Yehudah Glick courted controversy by saying that the AfD was not as bad as opposition lawmakers said.
“All those panicking over the election of a right-wing party in Germany should know that Frauke Petry, who stands at the head of the party, is working intensively to remove any suspicion of antisemitism from the party,” he tweeted.
Petry, the party’s co-chairperson, said soon after the election that she would not join the AfD faction in the Bundestag.
Glick followed up by saying he was concerned that there were “Nazi elements” in Germany, and that racism toward any minority, including Muslims, must be combated.
In addition, he said he was not congratulating the AfD but just commenting on the “panic” its election showing had caused. Petry had visited Israel and Yad Vashem and also opposes racism and antisemitism, he said.
“Whoever thinks all evil is on the Right and [that] the whole Right is evil is wrong,” Glick wrote. “There are moderates on the Right like Petry, and there are things that are no less disconcerting in the other parties... including Merkel’s party’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Remember the [German] foreign minister’s preference of Breaking the Silence over our prime minister? Remember the speech by the head of the Socialist Party, Martin Schulz, in the Knesset, when he said Israel steals water from the Palestinians?” He said Israel should seek ties with positive factors in all parties and combat negative factors in all parties.
“The growth of the Right throughout Europe comes from deep concerns of many Europeans over a radical Islamic takeover of Europe,” Glick said. “Whoever thinks this is an unfounded concern is mistaken. Translating that into racism is worrying.”