The Israeli ambassador to Germany said Sunday that he was avoiding any contact with the far-right Alternative for Germany party because its leaders have said things that are “highly insulting for Jews, for Israel and for the entire issue of the Holocaust.”
Jeremy Issacharoff told German news agency dpa it was very difficult for him to imagine any interaction with those who feel nostalgia for Germany’s past.
During the Nazis’ reign in 1933-45, the Germans organized and participated in the genocide of 6 million Jews in Europe.
Party leader Alexander Gauland last year dismissed the Nazi era as a “speck of bird poop in more than 1,000 years of successful German history,” triggering an uproar on social media.
Bjoern Hoecke, a powerful party leader in the east, has suggested it’s time for the country to stop atoning for its Nazi past.
Similar to other far-right parties in Europe, Alternative for Germany — which won almost 13 percent of the vote in the 2017 national election — formally rejects anti-Semitism and professes to strongly support Israel, seeing a common enemy in radical Islamism.
However, the party is largely rejected by the local Jewish community, which argues that it promotes xenophobia and fails to adequately distance itself from anti-Semites within its ranks.
The Anti-Defamation League has called the AfD success in the election a “disturbing milestone,” saying “its leaders have made anti-Semitic statements and played down the evil of the Nazi regime.”