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.

Read more at Tablet

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

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy