The deputy chairwoman and one of the public faces of Germany’s populist, euro-skeptic AfD party says that despite pejorative labels of “far right” her party is staunchly pro-Israel and looks to it as a role model.
In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Beatrix von Storch said that for “historical and cultural reasons, we will always look for good relations and close cooperation with Israel.”
“Israel could be a role model for Germany,” she said. “Israel is a democracy that has a free and pluralistic society. Israel also makes efforts to preserve its unique culture and traditions. The same should be possible for Germany and any other nation.”
Germany’s populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party made enormous gains in last Sunday’s federal elections, moving from no seats in the national parliament to as many as 94 seats. A growing disillusion with Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s handling of Germany’s migrant crisis as well as with the liberal Social Democratic Party (SPD) helped fuel a significant shift toward the AfD.
Von Storch is very clear in AfD’s position regarding national sovereignty and the recent trend toward globalism.
“We reject the move toward a centralized federal United States of Europe,” she said. “We favor the return to a community based on sovereign nations of shared economic interests.”
“If the present path of centralization and harmonization continues, the result will be disintegration,” she added.
The move away from the idea of a “federal Europe” by those who feel that Brussels has usurped important elements of national sovereignty from EU member states is exacerbated by a perception that German nationalism has been overly suppressed in the aftermath of World War II.
A recovery of a healthy German nationalism is a good thing, not a bad one, von Storch insists. “We stand for patriotism that promotes peace and good-neighborliness,” she said.
In this regard, a recuperation of national identity among the European states is not a threat to Europe, but a sign of vigor, von Storch claims.
“Our neighbors are not afraid of AfD. They fear the repercussions of Merkel’s open-door refugee policy and resent its contribution toward an EU refugee redistribution scheme,” she said.
According to von Storch, a recovery of a sense of national and cultural identity is also key to good relations between Germany and Israel. Despite the historic ant-Semitism associated with National Socialism, the true enemies of Judaism are not to be found among conservatives, she insists.
“Both antisemitism and anti-Zionism are strongest in the Islamic community, as well as the Left,” she declared. “They reject the fact that the Judeo-Christian foundations of European civilization are instrumental to its success. We recognize the threat they pose to both Israel and Germany’s Jewish community and their safety is a high priority for us.”
Von Storch’s perspective on Islam, on the other hand, makes a clear distinction between religious practice and what she calls “political ideology.”
“Islam, as a political ideology, and sharia law are not compatible with the principles of a free society,” she said. “Muslims must separate their religion from its political implementation such as calling for sharia law.”