MATI SHEMOELOF: They fear that four more years of Trump would boost the right-wing AfD’s bond with the right-wing Israeli government while masking the surge in anti-Semitism
THE SOUND OF THE gunshots near the synagogue in Halle last year have not yet faded off. And this week we learned that a gunman opened fire near a Jewish community centre, synagogue in Vienna, leaving at least four people dead.
The attack was claimed by Islamic State but the growing spectre of anti-Semitism can’t only be blamed on the radical Islam. These flames are also being fanned from the right and the deteriorating political discourse coming from America.
Wherever I go in Berlin, I hear a desperate cry from friends and colleagues, especially in Jewish circles, to see a change of leader in the US election. There is a sense that another four years of Donald Trump will change this city, and Germany, profoundly.
Their fear is that the extreme right-wing AfD would strengthen their bond with Israel while masking an even stronger surge in anti-Semitism in Germany.
According to a recent poll, the AfD is the only party in Germany whose members support Trump. They share his views on many issues, including Islamophobia, racism, conspiracy theories and denial of anti-Semitism. They also praise Israel’s right-wing government and its policies on Palestinians.
As much as Trump plays the Israeli friend, a growing number of US Jews are considering leaving if he is re-elected. Last year saw the greatest number of anti-Semitic incidents in the US since at least 1979, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The past two years have seen lethal attacks on Jews in Pittsburgh; Poway, California; Jersey City, New Jersey; and Monsey, New York, plus a string of assaults on Jews last year in Brooklyn.
And this growth in anti-Semitic attacks looks remarkably similar in Germany, where we have seen the rise of the AfD.
A report released by the Department for Research and Information on anti-Semitism in Berlin documented 410 incidents — more than two a day — during the first half of 2020. The German Interior Ministry reported the number of anti-Semitic crimes committed in Germany climbed to 2032 last year, up 13 percent from 2018. Of these, 93 per cent were attributed to the far Right.
Germans were was shocked by the murder of pro-immigration politician Walter Lübcke, who was assassinated outside his home by a neo-Nazi extremist; his death was followed by the terror attacks in Hanau (against German citizens with Turkish background) and Halle, by individuals who murdered an innocent German civilian.
Germany’s Jews already feel under siege following the rise in anti-Semitism. And amid a rise in extremist activity in the US, Trump has repeatedly declined to condemn far-right groups. No wonder Jews in Germany are worried.
Most people here fear that if Trump is re-elected, more populist leaders will gain power in the region, adding to those already in Hungary and Poland.
There is another echo from Washington to Berlin. The pro-Zionism of Trump and the right wing in Germany are fostering the growth of anti-Semitism. If Trump is re-elected, parties like the AfD will try to silence any criticism of Israel by calling it anti-Semitic – while they themselves push to increase it.
The article was first published on plus61j.