“Unfortunately, our worst fears have come true,” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said of the electoral success in Sunday’s general election of Alternative for Germany.
Known by its German initials AfD, the extreme nationalist party won almost 100 seats in Germany’s lower house.
“A party that tolerates far-right views in its ranks and incites hate against minorities in our country is today not only in almost all state parliaments but also represented in the Bundestag,” Schuster said.
The party is notorious for harboring all manner of racists and extremists, including apologists for Germany’s war record and Holocaust revisionists.
It was a disaster that Germany’s mainstream politicians saw coming.
Sigmar Gabriel, the country’s foreign minister, warned earlier this month that if AfD scored well at the ballot box, “then we will have real Nazis in the German Reichstag for the first time since the end of World War II.”
Pro-Israel funder backs new Nazis
While Germany needs no lessons in how to be racist, this catastrophe can in part be attributed to leaders in Israel and their fanatical supporters: for years they have made common cause with Europe’s far right, demonizing Muslims as alien invaders who must be rejected and even expelled to maintain a mythical European purity.
It can also be attributed to German leaders who for decades have strengthened this racist Israel by financing Israel’s military occupation and oppression of Palestinians.
What happened in Germany is another facet of the white supremacist-Zionist alliance that has found a home in Donald Trump’s White House.
Meanwhile, as Lee Fang reported for The Intercept, the Gatestone Institute, the think tank of major Islamophobia industry funder Nina Rosenwald, was flooding German social media with “a steady flow of inflammatory content about the German election, focused on stoking fears about immigrants and Muslims.”
The Gatestone Institute is chaired by John Bolton, the neoconservative former US diplomat notorious for his hawkish support of the invasion of Iraq.
Gatestone articles making claims about Christianity becoming “extinct” and warning about the construction of mosques in Germany were regularly translated into German and posted by AfD politicians and sympathizers.
Story after story claimed that migrants and refugees were raping German women and bringing dangerous diseases to the country, classic themes of the Nazi propaganda once used to incite genocidal hatred of Jews.
In a tragic irony, Rosenwald’s father, an heir to the Sears department store fortune, used his wealth to help Jewish refugees flee persecution in Europe.
His daughter took a different path. Journalist Max Blumenthal has called Nina Rosenwald the “sugar mama of anti-Muslim hate.”
Blumenthal reported in 2012 that Rosenwald “used her millions to cement the alliance between the pro-Israel lobby and the Islamophobic fringe.”
In addition to funding a host of the most notorious anti-Muslim demagogues, Blumenthal reported that Rosenwald “served on the board of AIPAC, the central arm of America’s Israel lobby, and holds leadership roles in a host of mainstream pro-Israel organizations.”
The party of Anders Breivik
In a profile the day after the election, The Jerusalem Report, published by the right-wing Jerusalem Post, gave AfD deputy leader Beatrix von Storch a platform to set out the party’s anti-Muslim ideology.
The Jerusalem Report also quotes German political scientist Marcel Lewandowsky explaining that “AfD members view the European Union as a traitor to Europe’s Christian heritage because they let in the Muslims. The view is that the Islamization of Europe was caused by the EU.”
“Replacement” by Muslims, Lewandowsky explained, “is the core of the fear of AfD voters.”
This means that the core ideology of the party is indistinguishable from that of Anders Breivik, the Norwegian who murdered 77 of his fellow citizens, mostly teenagers at a Labor Party youth camp, in July 2011, in the name of stopping the “Islamization” of Europe.
One of the biggest benefactors of Rosenwald’s largesse, according to Blumenthal, has been Daniel Pipes, the influential pro-Israel, anti-Muslim demagogue who Breivik cited 18 times in his notorious manifesto.
Admiration for Israel
AfD deputy leader von Storch, who sits in the European Parliament, also uses The Jerusalem Report interview to lay out her party’s pro-Israel stance, comparing its German nationalism to Israel’s Zionist ideology.
According to the The Jerusalem Report, von Storch is a founder of “Friends of Judea and Samaria,” a far-right European Parliament grouping that supports Israel’s illegal colonization of occupied Palestinian land.
Bizarrely, that group lists as one of its contact persons the head of the “Shomron Regional Council,” a settler organization in the occupied West Bank.
“Israel could be a role model for Germany,” von Storch told The Jerusalem Report. “Israel is a democracy that has a free and pluralistic society. Israel also makes efforts to preserve its unique culture and traditions. The same should be possible for Germany and any other nation.”
AfD chair Frauke Petry has also expressed support for Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. In February, she told the right-wing Jewish publication Tablet that her only visit to Israel gave her a positive view of the country.
“Suddenly the picture you get is somewhat different than what you got when you live far away,” she said.
These views, again, echo those of Anders Breivik. He was a strong admirer of Zionism, and advocated an alliance with Israel to fight against Muslims and their “culturalMarxists/multiculturalists” supporters.
Israel’s settler leaders have taken note of AfD’s support. As the world reeled from AfD’s electoral success, Yehuda Glick, a lawmaker in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, tweeted that all those who were “in a panic” about AfD should rest assured that Petry was working “intensively” to expel any anti-Semitic elements.
According to Tablet, Petry’s visit also led her to believe “that Europe should be learning more from Israel in its fight against terrorism.”
According to a recent survey, this strong support for Israel is felt across the ranks of AfD’s leadership.
Alliance with Zionism
There is a clear logic for AfD leaders to join the newly invigorated alliance between far-right, traditionally anti-Semitic forces on the one hand, and Israel and Zionists on the other.
Party chair Petry has argued that Jews should should be willing to talk to AfD over supposedly common interests, explaining, according to Tablet, that “it is the left wing in Germany and new Muslim immigrants who are leading her country’s anti-Israel movement.”
“Both anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are strongest in the Islamic community, as well as the left,” von Storch said. “They reject the fact that the Judeo-Christian foundations of European civilization are instrumental to its success. We recognize the threat they pose to both Israel and Germany’s Jewish community and their safety is a high priority for us.”
This is of course the most brazen revisionism: for centuries Europe’s Christian authorities not only did not consider Jews as a foundational part of their “civilization,” but persecuted them mercilessly, eventually attempting genocide.
But such facts are glossed over in the interests of a present-day anti-Muslim alliance that is prepared to torch the increasingly frayed fabric of pluralistic societies for the sake of Israel and German national purification.
Israel’s support for fascists
Critically, as Glick’s tweets indicate, this has not been a one-way affair. It has been encouraged by Israel and its lobby groups.
The notion that Israel is the spearhead of a Western civilizational battlefront against Islam has been a key claim of Netanyahu.
And powerful Israel lobby groups, such as the Anti-Defamation League, that are now expressing alarm at the electoral success of the AfD, are far from innocent.
For years, the Anti-Defamation League – which poses as an “anti-hate” group – courted and whitewashed influential anti-Muslim hate-preachers because they supported its pro-Israel agenda.
It can be seen in the Israeli government’s long and conspicuous silence while the rest of the world condemned August’s neo-Nazi rampage in Charlottesville, Virginia.
It can also be seen in Netanyahu’s embrace of far-right European leaders including Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has attempted to rehabilitate his country’s Hitler-allied wartime leadership.
While the brazenness of this alliance may be shocking, it dates back to the early years of both the Zionist and Nazi movements. As Columbia University professor Joseph Massad has pointed out, Zionists and European anti-Semites historically shared the same analysis: that Jews were alien to Europe and had to be moved elsewhere.
And it continues: Israeli commentators are noting that Israel has not rushed to condemn AfD.
Netanyahu – always quick to pounce on the alleged anti-Semitism of Israel’s critics – took to Twitter to congratulate Chancellor Angela Merkel on her victory, but has so far remained silent about the subject that everyone else is talking about.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that AfD hired the same US political consultancy, Harris Media, previously used by Trump and Netanyahu’s Likud Party to spread its anti-Muslim message.
Despite its electoral success, AfD is riven by splits: its chair Frauke Petry made the surprise announcement on Monday that she won’t join her party’s parliamentary caucus.
One strategy party leaders are deploying to make AfD more palatable is to try to assuage the fears of the Jewish community.
Undoubtedly, it will continue to attempt to do so by expressing admiration and support for Israel – the same approach as France’s historically anti-Semitic Front National.
We can expect to see AfD double down on its support of Israel, including its colonial settlements in “Judea and Samaria.”
But this is indeed a mark of its mainstreaming. Historically, Germany’s postwar establishment, including the governments led by Merkel, has “atoned” for the country’s genocide of Jews by supporting Israel to commit crimes against Palestinians.
Billions of dollars of German “reparations” went not to helping Holocaust survivors, but to arming Israel to carry out military occupation and colonization.
For Palestinians, then, Merkel’s “moderate” centrism and AfD’s overt bigotry and racism, are little different in effect.
Just as Donald Trump presents the unvarnished face of the American militarism and imperialism that has victimized people around the world for decades, AfD is in some ways a more honest voice of a Germany that speaks of “human rights,” while unconditionally supporting an Israel whose main export is extremism and Islamophobia.
Europe’s nativist racism joined with this ill-wind from Israel produces a toxic mix.
This article has been updated since initial publication.
- Alternative for Germany
- Sigmar Gabriel
- white supremacy
- Lee Fang
- Max Blumenthal
- Nina Rosenwald
- Daniel Pipes
- Anti-Defamation League
- Beatrix von Storch
- Israeli settlements
- European Parliament
- Richard Spencer
- Frauke Petry
- Benjamin Netanyahu
- Viktor Orban
- Sebastian Gorka
- Steve Bannon
- Zionist Organization of America
- Joseph Massad
- German-Israeli relations