Germany's political parties have their differences, to be sure. But they can all agree on one thing: that the upstart civilizationist party called the Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, AfD) should not have any representation in the Bundestag (parliament).
It's not hard to see why, as AfD's brazen outspokenness in favor of Western civilization, the United States, and Israel intensely annoys them. So, as elections loom, the other parties are ganging together to discredit the AfD. Given that this is Germany, the single most potent method is to tar it with antisemitism. And to do that most effectively, Jews must lead the charge.
That explains why Germany's Central Council of Jews (Zentralrat der Juden, ZdJ) initiated a document that no fewer than 68 other Jewish organizations endorsed. Titled "Jews against the AfD," it calls on Germans to vote for any party other than the AfD. Its message is not subtle: "Vote for an unquestionably democratic party [zweifelsfrei demokratische Partei] on September 26, 2021 and help banish the AfD from the German Bundestag."
The document, issued on September 9, accuses the AfD of "wreaking havoc" in parliament and calls it the home of "antisemites and right-wing extremists" who engage in "racism and misanthropy." To top it all, the signatories even claim to be "convinced that the AfD is an ... anti-religious [religionsfeindliche] party."
Those organizations also include some big and established international names, including the American Jewish Committee, the B'nai B'rith, the Claims Conference, the European Jewish Congress, the Jewish National Fund, Limmud, the Maccabi Games, the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, the Union of Progressive Jews, and the World Jewish Congress.
For starters, it bears noting that all German and American tax-exempt organizations endorsing this statement are very clearly breaking the law by advocating how votes should be cast. The document's headline includes a childish graphic of a downward arrow, reversing the AfD's upward one. Oddly, the ZdJ not once spells out the party's name in this document, just "AfD," its initials, as though mentioning the full name would sully it.
A day later, the organization Jews in the AfD (Juden in der AfD, JAfD) responded to this blast. It started by noting that the ZdJ gets nearly its entire €13 million annual budget from the government – so, of course, it toes the government's line. It also notes that "only state-financed [German] Jewish organizations took part in this appeal. Independent Jewish organs such as the monthly newspaper Jüdische Rundschau and conservative Jewish associations such as Chabad Germany are not represented."
It gets worse. The Central Council of Jews, notes Chaim Noll, a German-Israeli author, "is an unique institution that does not exist in other countries and also is unknown in Judaism. It is one of the state institutions financed by the federal government, it administers the country's Jews. ... That Jews are subject to the government's wishes is the specific tragedy of the Jews in Germany; in other countries, Jewish communities are autonomous."
As for substance, JAfD accurately argues that "the AfD has done more to protect Jewish life than any other party in the German Bundestag." Specifically, it successfully initiated a ban on Hezbollah and the BDS movement, and it is working to defund UNRWA and abolish labeling requirements for Jewish products from the West Bank.
I personally witnessed this when sitting in the Bundestag on March 14, 2019, as a vote was taken urging the German government to vote favorably for Israel in the United Nations. AfD's members voted 89 percent in favor of this motion, about 350 times more so than the ¼ of 1 percent of the ruling parties who joined them.
#Germany's parliament voted yesterday on a resolution to vote favorably to Israel at the UN. 1 member out of 398 in the government coalition (2 circles on left) voted in favor. 89% of #AfD & 86% of FDP voted in favor.March 15, 2019
This spat illustrates a deep truth about Europe's sad Jewish leaders: beholden to the Establishment, they sacrifice most of their Zionist inclinations to stay in its good graces. (For more detail on this pattern, see my article "Europe's Jews vs. Israel.") So avidly do they bow before the government, they even convinced Israel's current ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, to breach diplomatic protocol, openly attack the AfD, and defend Germany's anti-Israel parties.
In the end, however, Europe's supine Jewish leadership will find itself isolated from its own constituents and opposed by the people and Government of Israel, all of whom will eventually recognize their true friends in German politics. The AfD is far from perfect but it does best fit that description.
Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum.