Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland, top candidates of the anti-immigration party Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) .
(photo credit: WOLFGANG RATTAY / REUTERS)
Jewish groups in Germany have strongly criticized the establishment of a Jewish working group in the far-right Alternative for Germany (AFD) Party which took place on Sunday, saying that it amounted to a marketing ploy to clean up the party’s image.
The new “Jews in the AfD” group was formally launched on Sunday in the city of Wiesbaden, ahead of elections in the state of Hesse – of which Wiesbaden is the capital – at the end of October.
AfD says 19 people have launched the group, entry to which is dependent on being a party member and being either ethnically or religiously Jewish.
Almost all of the male members of “Jews in the AfD” who launched the group on Sunday wore kippot of various types and assortments, although many seemed somewhat ill-fitting.
Dr. Vera Kosova, one of the group’s founding members, was described in 2017 on the AfD Facebook page for the party’s regional branch in Baden-Württemberg as “a 34-year-old cardiologist” born in Uzbekistan, and that “the Christian-Jewish Kosova family moved to Germany in 1998.”
The AfD has been accused of harboring antisemites in its ranks, with senior politicians making dubious comments about the Holocaust and German history.
In 2017, a video emerged of co-leader of the AfD and Bundestag member Alexander Gauland
saying that if Britain was proud of Nelson and Churchill then Germany should be proud of how German soldiers and the German army fought in the First World War and the Second World War.
“Jews in the AfD” founder Wolfgang Fuhl dismissed claims of antisemitism against the party on Sunday however, pointing to AfD’s pro-Israel credentials.
“The AfD is an exceptionally pro-Israel party, supposedly the most pro-Israel party in the Bundestag,” said Fuhl.
A group of some 17 Jewish organizations in Germany, headed by the umbrella organization for Jewish communities in the country the Central Council of Jews in Germany, published a statement ahead of the planned launch of Jews in the AfD, saying that the party “is not for Jews.”
“If Jews had to rely on the AfD as a guarantor of Jewish survival in Germany, Jewish life here would have hit rock bottom,” said the organizations, which include the Jewish Student’s Union in Germany, the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference Germany (ORD), WIZO, the Claims Conference and others.
“The AfD is a party that acts as a breeding ground for hatred towards Jews and the relativisation right through to the denial of the Shoah,” they said, adding that the AfD advocates a ban on ritual slaughter and circumcision.
These policies seem mainly aimed at Germany’s Muslim population but do not allow for exceptions, meaning Jewish rituals would be included as well.
“Those who question these fundamental commandments in Judaism are denying Jews in Germany their right to live in this country,” said the Jewish organizations, which also denounced the AfD’s anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies.
Fuhl branded this reaction to “Jews in the AfD” as “extreme” and that the Central Council of Jews was panicking over the attraction of Jews to the party.
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