Jews joining forces with the far right is nothing new. The Jewish Defence League was founded 50 years ago by ultra-nationalist Meir Kahane. Journalist Laura Loomer has worked with The Rebel Media and was described by Fortune as a “far right provocateur.” Loomer was one of multiple far right personalities who were de-verified because Twitter tightened their policy on “hate speech.”
The Atlantic reports that a small group of Jews are creating a faction within the far right party, Alternative for Germany (AfD). Recently, AfD has undergone a rebranding in order to garner mainstream appeal. The Jewish faction is simply called “Jews in the AfD.” Nineteen people met in Wiesbaden, a small city near Frankfurt, to join Jews in the AfD.
What is really peculiar about this is that the anti-semitism espoused by members of the party did not deter these new Jewish members. It’s weird to imagine Jews and far right extremists walking side by side in solidarity, but then again, this is 2018.
The Atlantic article mentions that there is a recent trend of far right parties back-pedaling and trying to position themselves as being Jewish allies.
Forward reported in April 2017 that the AfD tried to appeal to Jewish voters by blocking Muslim immigrants that they claim are anti-semitic. Anti-semitism is a real concern, but there are many white Germans who hold anti-semitic views too. Where were the AfD when their members have downplayed the war crimes of Hitler and the Holocaust?
Some examples of recent anti-semitism from the AfD include a Berlin court ruling that an AfD politician could be called a Holocaust denier, co-founder Bjoern Hoecke attacking Berlin’s Holocaust memorial and saying that Germany needs to stop atoning for the Nazis’ crimes, and co-leader Alexander Garland downplaying Nazi crimes saying that “Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird shit in over 1,000 years of successful German history.”
AfD’s popularity has been surging with a recent survey ranking them as more popular than every other party in Germany, except for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s. After the 2017 federal election, the party won 94 seats in the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament, making it the third largest party.
Alternative for Germany was founded in 2013. Their platform is similar to other European far right parties like UKIP and France’s National Front, with its populist tone, focus on immigration, and negative views of Islam.
It is important to note that a small handful of Jews joining a far right group does not represent the majority. A Ha’aretz headline reads: “Launch of Far-right AfD’s Jewish faction flops as Hundreds of Counterprotesters Rally Nearby.” A crowd of 400 people outnumbered the small far-right faction of about 20.
The fact that there are some Jews who have forgotten history and voted for a party that is not in their best interest is not surprising. Far right politicians in the Americas, Australia, and Europe have scapegoated nonwhite people, convincing poor and working-class white people that they are the people screwing them over, not the greedy CEOs and businesspeople in the top 1%.
This story goes to show that the enemy of my enemy is not always a friend. The far right are not suddenly fond of Jews, They are just using them as pawns. If there’s one group the far right hate more than Jews, it’s Muslims.
The most worrying part of the story is that it’s possible that the AfD are on trajectory to becoming the ruling party.
My message to fellow Jews is this: never forget history. Switch out the word Muslim for Jew, and they’re talking about us.