A group of Jewish supporters in Germany have reportedly decided to join the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, setting off criticism from various Jewish groups in the country.
Juden in der AfD (Jews in the AfD, or JAfD) is set to launch itself on Oct. 7 in Offenbach.
The announcement sparked shock and bewilderment from various Jewish organizations in the country primarily because the AfD is a notoriously racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic group. In fact, just in June, co-leader of the AfD, Alexander Gauland, downplayed the genocidal campaign against six million Jews during the Holocaust, calling the Nazi era "speck of bird shit in over 1,000 years of successful German history."
A prominent Jewish-German organization, “Values Initiative,” expressed "surprise and concern" over the impending launch of the Jewish wing for the far-right group.
“We believe that any involvement in this party is wrong, because it uses its alleged Jewish or Israeli friendship in particular to gain legitimacy for its agitation against Muslims,” the group's statement read.
In her comments to the Bild newspaper, Charlotte Knobloch, former chairwoman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, also condemned the JAfD.
"The AfD is and remains a party in which anti-Semites feel more than comfortable," she said, adding the fact that "Jewish people can justify their membership in such a party to themselves" is "completely baffling."
Sergey Lagodinsky, Green Party politician and member of Berlin’s Jewish Community Council, told JTA that while Jewish communities are concerned about soaring intolerance there is "still a high moral threshold preventing formal forms of engagement” with a far-right party.
Despite the fact AfD's vitriol against ethnic and religious minorities and immigrants in the country has gotten worse over the past couple of years, it became the first far-right party to win seats in the Bundestag in more than half a century in elections last September and, this year, it has remained the second most popular political party in Germany since February.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters