Jews should not fear the strong election showing by the right-wing Alternative for Germany, a party leader said.
“There is nothing in our party, in our program, that could disturb the Jewish people who live here in Germany,” co-party head Alexander Gauland told reporters Monday, a day after the party garnered more than 13 percent of the vote to finish third in German national elections.
Gauland also said that he was ready to meet with German Jewish leaders “at any time.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday was reelected to a fourth term. She reportedly has the idea of including the AfD in a coalition government.
“Unfortunately, our worst fears have come true: a party that tolerates far-right views in its ranks and incites hate against minorities in our country is today not only in almost all state parliaments but also represented in the Bundestag,” the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dr. Josef Schuster, said in a statement issued late Sunday.
“I expect all our democratic forces to unveil the real face of the AfD and to expose the party’s empty, populist promises. The goal that should unite all democratic parties: to make it clear to the voters that the AfD is not an alternative, so that it can land where it belongs – under the five percent hurdle! ”
The council called on the parliament to “fight for democracy and to defend its values vehemently” in the face of the AfD successes.
The Anti-Defamation League in a statement called the entrance of the party into the national parliament “a disturbing milestone in modern German politics,” calling the party “proudly extremist, anti-immigrant, and anti-minority.” The party leaders have made anti-Semitic statements and played down the evil of the Nazi regime, the ADL also said.
“Chancellor Merkel has a strong track record of protecting the Jewish community and other minorities. We appreciate that she has excluded the possibility of AfD joining her coalition, and we count on her strong leadership going forward to diminish the appeal of AfD among German voters,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in the statement.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in cities throughout Germany on Sunday evening to protest the AfD’s election successes. In the Alexanderplatz public square in central Berlin protesters chanted “Racism is not an alternative,” “AfD is a bunch of racists” and “Nazis out!”