Jewish Groups Worldwide Alarmed by Far-right AfD Breakthrough in German Election

World Jewish Congress says concerned over success of 'a disgraceful reactionary movement which recalls the worst of Germany’s past'

AfD top candidates Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel celebrate with their supporters during the AfD's election party in Berlin, Germany, September 24, 2017.
Martin Meissner/AP

International and domestic Jewish groups on Sunday expressed alarm at the far-right Alternative for Germany's success in Germany's parliamentary election, with the European Jewish Congress urging other parties not to form an alliance with the AfD.

Early projections gave the AfD 13.1 percent of the vote, allowing it to enter the Bundestag for the first time. It will be Germany's third-largest party after Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (33.2 percent of the vote) and the center-left Social Democrats (20.8 percent).

The far-right has not been represented there since the 1950s – a reflection of Germany's efforts to distance itself from the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust.

"We trust that centrist parties in the Bundestag will ensure that the AfD has no representation in the coming governing coalition," the EJC said.

"Some of the positions it has espoused during the election campaign display alarming levels of intolerance not seen in Germany for many decades and which are, of course, of great concerns to German and European Jews."

The surge in support for the AfD is the biggest challenge the country has faced in its post-war history, the Central Council of Jews in Germany said. "For the first time, a right-wing populist party with strong overlap with the right-wing extremist scene ... has been voted into the Bundestag," the group said.

"We expect our democratic forces to expose the true face of the AfD and lay bare its empty, populist promises," it added.

A statement from the New York-based World Jewish Congress quoted its president, Ron Lauder, as saying, "It is abhorrent that the AfD party, a disgraceful reactionary movement which recalls the worst of Germany’s past and should be outlawed, now has the ability within the German parliament to promote its vile platform."

Lauder lauded Merkel's record of support for Jews, calling her "a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people."