For the First Time in Over Six Decades, the Far Right Returns to German Politics

Sept. 27 2017

The national elections in Germany last Sunday unsurprisingly resulted in a victory for the current chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. But there were also less expected results: both the center-right Christian Democrats and their major rival, the center-left Social Democrats, garnered many fewer votes than in previous elections, while the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) came in third, with 13 percent of the votes. This will be the first time since the 1950s that a hard-right party has sat in the Bundestag. James Kirchick comments:

The decline of the two [major political parties] has coincided with a movement toward the extremes, with voters flocking to the AfD and the post-Communist [and virulently anti-Israel] Left party. . . .

Initially founded by a group of conservative economists wanting to pull Germany out of the Eurozone, the AfD didn’t even clear the 5-percent threshold required to enter the Bundestag at the last federal election in 2013. Its appeal broadened, however, in the wake of the 2015-2016 refugee crisis, particularly after Merkel opened Germany’s borders to some one million mostly Muslim migrants. A series of highly-publicized crimes involving migrants, most notably a mass sexual assault in Cologne and a terrorist attack in Berlin last Christmas, led to a transformation of the AfD from a party mainly focused on bringing back the Deutschemark into [an] ethno-nationalist bloc. . . .

While the AfD’s main scapegoats are Muslims, Jews aren’t far behind. This being Germany, however, AfD leaders must couch their anti-Semitism in ways that skillfully skirt the country’s stringent hate-speech laws. Their anti-Semitism has thus taken the form of historical revisionism and attacks on Germany’s remembrance culture. The most fearsome example was a speech delivered by a regional party leader earlier this year. . . . “Until now, our mental state continues to be that of a totally defeated people. We Germans are the only people in the world that have planted a monument of shame in the heart of their capital,” he said, referring to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which occupies an entire city block in central Berlin.

Another AfD member set to enter parliament, Martin Hohmann, was expelled from the Christian Democrats in 2003 after delivering a speech wherein he disputed the notion that Germany is a “nation of perpetrators” by arguing that one could say the same about the Jews, who, after all, played a disproportionate role in the Bolshevik revolution. Earlier this month, [the] party leader Alexander Gauland . . . declared that “we have a right to be proud of the achievements of German soldiers in two world wars.” . . . . To top it off, the party is anti-American, anti-NATO, and pro-Putin.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Angela Merkel, Anti-Semitism, Germany, Politics & Current Affairs

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism