Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu congratulated Chancellor Angela Merkel late Sunday night, writing on Twitter, “Congratulations to Angela Merkel, a true friend of Israel, on her re-election as Chancellor of Germany.” The Foreign Ministry earlier had offered “no comment” when the results came in.
Exit polls indicated a fourth term for Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, but the entrance of the nationalist Alternative for Germany party in parliament for the first time could presage a turn away from the country’s long-standing pro-Israel policy.
Merkel was reported leading with 32.5 to 33.5 percent of the vote; Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats were in second place with 20-21 perecent; and the anti-migrant, anti-Semitic Alternative for Germany party took over 13 percent.
In contrast to Merkel’s CDU party, which affirms a “special responsibility of Germany toward Israel,” the AfD’s 76-page party program has nothing to say about combating anti-Semitism or supporting Israel.
The concern is for Israel’s mostly positive relationship with Germany, which provides it not only with submarines but also with indispensable support within the European Union. There is concern, as well, for the future security of Jews living in Germany.
AfD leaders have been garnering ugly notoriety with statements of sympathy for and even pride in Germany’s Nazi past.
Wilhelm von Gottberg, the elder statesman of the party at 77, said recently that Germans should stop feeling guilty for Nazism and stop making apologies.
Alexander Gauland, a founder and co-leader of the party, proclaimed the right to be proud of the German soldiers in two world wars.
Martin Hohmann, who will likely enter parliament for AfD, has said it was unfair that Germans were still being portrayed as a nation of murderers because of the Nazis’ crimes, while no one was talking about how “Jews were active in great numbers” in the killings during the Russian Revolution.
To the left of Merkel, there isn’t much support for Israel either. Left Party deputy Christine Buchholz has defended the “legitimate resistance” of Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel.