German far-right party leader: Jews have nothing to fear

The co-leader of German nationalist party AfD, Alexander Gauland, tried to assuage Jewish apprehensions after his party’s entry into parliament.

A top official with Germany’s nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) says Jews have nothing to fear from his party’s third-place election finish that took it into parliament.

The comments Monday from co-leader Alexander Gauland came after several major Jewish groups expressed dismay and concern Sunday about the strong showing of AfD, a far-right party.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called the AfD result a “disturbing milestone,” saying “its leaders have made anti-Semitic statements and played down the evil of the Nazi regime.”

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) called the party “a disgraceful reactionary movement which recalls the worst of Germany’s past.”

WJC President Ronald S. Lauder congratulated German Chancellor Angela Merkel on securing a fourth term in Sunday’s federal elections, calling her “a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people.”

“It is abhorrent that the AfD party, a disgraceful reactionary movement which recalls the worst of Germany’s past and should be outlawed, now has the ability within the German parliament to promote its vile platform,” Lauder stated. “We wish Chancellor Merkel success in her upcoming term and look forward to many more years of friendship.”

Gauland told reporters, however, “there is nothing in our party, in our program, that could disturb the Jewish people who live here in Germany.”

He added that he hadn’t met with Jewish leaders, but was “ready at any time” to do so.

This is the first time since the Nazi era that a far-right political party has succeeded in securing seats in Germany’s parliament.

Merkel said that AfD’s entry into the Reichstag will not have any influence on the country’s foreign, European and refugee policies.

AfD ran a campaign that centered on harsh criticism of Merkel and her decision to accept large numbers of migrants, mostly from Muslim countries.

Asked whether AfD’s performance will affect German policy in any way, Merkel replied Monday, “I don’t think so.”

“The parties that are capable of forming coalitions with each other will seek solutions — there are of course differences … but AfD will have no influence,” she said.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff