Pro-Israelism and Antisemitism within Germany`s Populist Radical Right AfD

Marc Grimm

The wider political frame in which the success of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has to be analysed is the rise of right-wing populist parties in Europe in the last 20 years. While adopting policy positions typically associated with the extreme right, those parties aim to distance themselves from their fascist or national-socialist predecessor parties and ideologies. Against this background this paper discusses the positions of the AfD towards Israel and the Jewish Communities in Germany, the party`s discomfort with Germany`s contemporary politics of remembrance, as well as the relationship of pro-Israel and anti-antisemitic political positions within the party. The paper concludes that the AfD uses the pro-Israeli and pro-Jewish positions taken by some of its members in order to whitewash its public image while doing nothing to challenge the antisemitism of others among its membership.

Keywords:   Antisemitism, Pro-Israelism, Alternative for Germany, AfD, Right-Wing Populism

In the last 20 years populist radical right parties rose all over Europe and have become part of the establishment that they claim to fight. [1] While adopting policy positions typically associated with the extreme right, such as forced repatriation of migrants, Europe's new (and not so new) populist radical right parties seek to present themselves as part of the political centre by simultaneously positioning themselves as champions of liberal social values such as human rights and pluralism. Parties such as the True Finns, the Lega Nord, the Freedom Party and the Sweden Democrats refuse to be labeled as radical or populist. To achieve that, many of the European right parties aim to distance themselves from their fascist or national-socialist predecessor parties and ideologies [2] . That leaves it to scholars to discuss similarities and differences of those parties in ideology, and possibilities to group them into party families [3] . As this paper will show, policy shifts within the AfD permits consideration of it as a populist radical right party. [4] One key strategy of those parties to distance themselves from historical fascism is by offering themselves as partners and friends to their national Jewish communities and Israel and often by presenting themselves as reliable partners in the struggle against political Islam and Islamic antisemitism [5] .

Germany`s Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany; AfD) seems to be a case in point for this strategy. It seemed that the party intended to follow the course of the Austrian FPÖ and other populist radical right parties and sought to present itself as a party of the political middle by being pro-Israel and pro-Jewish and thereby rejecting any allegations of being a radical right-wing party.

In 2013, the year the AfD was founded it almost made it into national parliament gaining 4.7 percent of the popular vote, narrowly missing the five percent threshold. That achievement was a political earthquake because it indicated a wide gap between the supply and demand of political positions, which is unusual for Germany`s very stable political system. Since then the AfD has drawn major media attention for two major reasons. Germany is the country that initiated the Holocaust and holds the greatest responsibility for it and therefore the rise of a party that has given a voice to racist and nationalist attitudes is closely observed. Second, Germany is the only country in Western Europe that didn`t have a right-wing populist party in the national parliament until recently [6] . The 2017 elections changed the latter. The AfD made it into parliament with 12.6 percent of the popular vote. That alone makes it necessary to look at the party, the party members and leadership as well as the party`s political agenda. This paper focuses on a specific aspect: the positions that the party holds towards Jews and Israel. It is not only for historic reasons and the specific relationship of Germans and Jews that the political agenda of the party has to be examined closely. The wider political frame in which the discussion of the AfD has to be put is the rise of right-wing populist parties all over Europe and their struggle with their historical-political roots. The relationship between these parties and their relation to Jews and Israel seems to have changed. In recent years, the election campaigns of right-wing radical parties have focused on Islam, immigration and national identity. In the same period, in Europe the number of right-wing radical parties and groups that express their solidarity with Israel and recommend themselves to Jewish organisations as allies in the fight against Islam has grown. This phenomenon is often referred to as the political right-wing without antisemitism. Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel, AfD`s top candidates in the 2017 campaign [7] spoke out against antisemitism, yet in light of antisemitic scandals within the AfD concerns about the party`s positions towards Judaism and Israel arose. The reactions in Israel were twofold. While major representatives from the ruling coalition as well as from the opposition parties warned about the AfD and stressed that Merkel was "a true friend of Israel," [8] media outlets such as Israel widespread daily Israel Hayom presented Gauland and the AfD as being Israel-friendly [9] . In the Jerusalem post Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld, author of many books on antisemitism, explains that despite antisemitic incidents within the party, it must be considered pro-Israeli:

"However, Germany is a federal state and the positions of regional AfD representatives are not necessarily identical to those of the national leaders. Holocaust distorting and anti-Semitic remarks may occur again. German Jews can protest, but will have to live with that, despite indications that most of the AfD leadership is pro-Israeli." [10]

The twofold reactions in Israel should not come as a surprise. The AfD might not be an antisemitic party nor did it run antisemitic campaigns. But as this paper will show, the party is willing to accept that antisemitism, anti-antisemitism and pro-Israelism peacefully co-exist within the party. Hence, the article will try to shed light on four main topics to provide a wider understanding of the party`s positions toward antisemitism, Israel and the Jewish communities in Germany:

The paper will outline (I) the rise of the AfD in order to provide background information about the power constellation and fractions within the AfD, (II) the ideology of the radical right wing around Björn Höcke [11] , (III) the party`s positions towards Germany`s official politics of remembrance, and (IV) attitudes and voices in the AfD that can be attributed to the above-described pro-Israeli course of European right-wing populist parties.

1.      The rise of the AfD

The rise of the AfD began before the so-called immigration crisis. The party was founded in February 2013 and had a strong focus on economic issues, following an ordoliberal agenda that aims to offer protection for the poor but that is generally based on a meritocratic understanding of (social) justice. The AfD succeeded in 2013 because unlike all parties represented in the national parliament, they rejected the bailout payments for Greece. The founding of the party coincided with a panic-ridden public discourse, in which the bailouts were portrayed as an attack on the ordinary German in the street who would now lose all his/her savings because of the lazy and corrupt Greeks. The AfD could harvest the fruits of this panic only seven months after the party was founded and nearly made it into parliament. Even though the party did not have a racist campaign, longitudinal election studies show that those who were rejecting multiculturalism and immigration were more likely to vote for the AfD [12] . Many expected the AfD to fall apart after the election, as did the right-wing Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD) that nearly made it into parliament in 1969, gaining 4.3 percent. But the AfD consolidated itself, brought a party programme on the way and an election programme for the election for the European Parliament in 2014. At this point the AfD still held strictly liberal views in respect to economic issues, and left-wing views in respect to the question of asylum, e.g. stating that the social and financial costs of the integration of immigration in Europe must be fairly distributed among EU-countries so that the border-states would not have to carry the costs alone. It was Bernd Lucke`s [13] people who then successfully positioned the AfD within the German political party landscape. In 2014 this profile won the party 7.1 percent of the vote and seven seats in the European Parliament, a place where they were successful in being accepted into the group of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR).

In early 2014 the regional associations of the AfD in Eastern Germany (the former GDR) focused their campaigns on national identity and immigration. The strategy was so successful that the AfD made it into the regional parliament of Saxony (9.7 percent), Thuringia (10.6 percent) and Brandenburg (12.2 percent). This success marks the beginning of a slow radicalisation of the party and a shift towards the right, one of its obvious results being that the AfD was forced to leave the ECR group in the European Parliament. In July 2015 Lucke lost in an internal leadership struggle against Frauke Petry. Petry followed Lucke as co-leader of the party, sharing the position with Jörg Meuthen. In reaction to Lucke`s defeat, in what was widely considered to be a shift to the right, Lucke and several hundred party members left the party in 2015. In July 2015 the AfD fell to 4 percent in public opinion surveys [14] . But with the beginning of mass immigration starting in 2015 the AfD found a new battleground. Late in 2015 the party started a new campaign named "autumn offensive" (Herbstoffensive) that shifted the focus on immigration and immigration only. Quickly, the AfD succeeded by profiling itself as the only party that opposed the immigration policy of the ruling CDU/CSU - SPD coalition.

2.      The AfD's right factions

Right-wing extremist forces in the AfD are currently consolidated in two groups, the Patriotische Plattform and Der Flügel. The Patriotische Plattform (Patriotic Platform) was founded in the beginning of 2014 and its spokesperson is Hans-Thomas Tillschneider, a member of the State Parliament (Landtag) of Saxony-Anhalt. Der Flügel (The Wing) was created following the publication of the Erfurter Resolution (Erfurt Resolution), a programmatic statement of the party right, in March 2015. Both currents are united by a radical-nationalist and anti-western agenda, both agitate against "social experiments" such as multiculturalism, gender-mainstreaming and aim to strengthen the classic male-breadwinner family model. In respect to social policies the radical factions hold "left" positions, they aim to fight poverty and redistribute wealth for the benefit of (German, non-migrant, male-breadwinner) families. While the Patriotic Platform remains subdued and only a few members appear by name, Der Flügel has managed to win over a considerable part of the party in support of the Erfurt resolution and has established a strong party section which has excellent contacts in the extreme right-wing milieu [15] . The Erfurt resolution was initiated by the state chairmen of Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, Björn Höcke and André Poggenburg respectively. In the resolution the AfD is described as a movement of the people, which takes position "against the social experiments of the last decades (gender mainstreaming, multiculturalism, loss of a values-based education, etc.)." [16] Der Flügel aimed to direct the AfD to a more radical socio-political course. While the party had until then positioned itself programmatically for freedom of movement in Europe [17] (AfD Europe 2014), Der Flügel does not consider only the new flow of immigration as a social experiment worthy of rejection, but also the immigration of the past.

It is Björn Höcke of Thuringia who exerts a decisive influence on the content and strategic orientation of Der Flügel and the party's right tendencies in general. He is the enfant terrible of the AfD who violates established standards of civility on a regular basis and thereby draws the attention of the media and pushes the boundaries of what can be said. Höcke fuels conspiracy theories claiming that either Merkel, or the dark powers that control her, were making her use immigration as a weapon (Migrationswaffe) to weaken the German state. [18] Höcke referred to Christianity and Judaism as being antagonistic. [19] And it was Höcke who defended Ursula Haverbeck, an 88-year-old notorious holocaust-denier, who had been sentenced repeatedly for holocaust denial. [20] During a speech in Gera in October 2016, Höcke took up the last court ruling against Haverbeck and criticized her conviction for "opinion crimes" (Meinungsverbrechen). [21] Needless to say Höcke is not the first politician to make such statements, but until recently the costs would have been high; Martin Hohmann, former CDU-member and Member of Parliament, was expelled from the party in 2003 after an antisemitic speech in which he referred to Israelis as a "nation of perpetrators" (Tätervolk), a term that is used to refer to the Germans and the crimes against humanity they committed in the Second World War. Hohmann is now back in parliament, as a member of the AfD. Unlike Hohmann 15 years ago, Höcke does not need to fear - his speech did not have any consequences.

Höcke and the party right have slowly and steadily moved the party to the right. This is obvious in respect to the growing number of party positions held by members who are associated with the radical wing as well as by the party programme that contains political positions more nationalistic and illiberal than the election programmes of earlier years. In addition, it has become clear that members of the radical wing do not need to fear being expelled from the party and therefore they feel free to speak their mind. While three years ago Bernd Lucke rejected Götz Kubitschek, the founder of the voelkisch think tank Institut für Staatspolitik [22] as party member, [23] the current director of the same institute, Andreas Lichert, ran as a member of parliament for the AfD in the 2017 elections. The most recent indication of the strength of the party right is the decision of the party's arbitral court that neither Wolfgang Gedeon nor Björn Höcke, who have both made vivid antisemitic remarks and fueled conspiracy theories, will have to leave the party. Germany`s leading conservative newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, concludes that the AfD has finally given up its resistance against the New Right. [24] There are many more examples of the lively contacts of AfD with political activists who constituted the politically isolated lunatic fringe until recently [25] . The most disturbing example might be the close ties that the AfD holds with Manuel Ochsenreiter who is a journalist, a radical antisemite and an advocate of a Eurasian Moscow-Berlin-Tehran Axis. Ochsenreiter proudly presents on his homepage [26] photos of himself with Aleksandr Gelyevich Dugin (Putin`s chief ideologue), he serves as a middleman between the Iranian Regime and the European radical right and is a welcome guest at AfD gatherings. [27] At the 2014 holocaust-denial conference New Horizon in Tehran he talked about "The Israel Lobby in Germany." [28] In 2016 the Iranian Ministry for Education and Arts published the Persian translation of his book Die Macht der zionistischen Lobby in Deutschland (The Power of the Zionist Lobby in Germany). [29] It is problematic enough that the AfD offers Ochsenreiter a platform to speak at their conferences, but it is alarming that Ochsenreiter has close ties to former and current AfD-leadership, e.g. Markus Frohnmaier. Frohnmaier has been a member of parliament since October 2017, had served as spokesman for Frauke Petry until late 2016 and is now a spokesman for Alice Weidel, the leading runner of the AfD in the 2017 campaign. [30] Neither Frohnmaier nor any of those in contact with Ochsenreiter had to fear consequences for their contact with the extreme right and antisemitic lunatic fringe.

Since 2017 the party right has become increasingly self-confident. This might be best illustrated by the case of Wolfgang Gedeon, a member of the regional parliament of Baden-Württemberg, whose antisemitic writings became the focus of public attention in summer of 2016.  The Gedeon affair temporarily split the AfD´s parliamentary group in Baden-Württemberg which at the time was still led by Jörg Meuthen. At first, Meuthen supported Gedeon claiming the critic to be an attempt by political opponents to harm the AfD. However, shortly after Meuthen refered to Gedeon`s books as antisemitic, he issued an ultimatum and threatened to leave the parliamentary group if Gedeon stayed - obviously intending to pull the party together. [31] It would have been - if nothing else - pragmatic to make Gedeon leave the party. However, almost half of the members of the parliamentary group (ten of the twenty-three) denied following Meuthen and so the case of Gedeon developed into a novelty, as the parliamentary group of the AfD willingly split. When they reunited a few months later it was announced that Gedeon had voluntarily left the party, and the party issued a statement stating that the division of the party was "in no way to be associated with antisemitism", but was a reaction to "a perceived restriction of freedom of expression." [32] Again, the AfD does not identify antisemitism as the problem, but it presents itself as the victim of a campaign to restrict freedom of speech. In December 2017 the AfD invited Gedeon to be a permanent guest in one of their working groups. Only one member of Wurtemberg's parliamentary group left in protest. [33] Finally, in early 2018 the party`s arbitration court decided that Gedeon did not have to leave the party. According to the official statement the decision was made on formal grounds. [34]

It can be argued that the dispute over Gedeon could have been a gift for the party, as the party could have instrumentalised it to force Gedeon out and so show that there is no place for antisemites in the party and that, accordingly, the AfD is a party of the political middle. Instead, the reaction of the party indicated that there is strong support for antisemites in the party - even when such support means the division of the parliamentary group. [35] The right wing of the party did not distance itself from Gedeon, nor from his ideas and values, despite the fact that the case was widely covered by German and international media. Inviting Gedeon to the working group and finding means to not exclude him from the party, must be understood as a statement of the right wing which thereby communicates that they are strong enough within the party to protect "their" people and to follow their agenda. At the same time it becomes obvious that there is neither a political will within the leadership of the party to pick up a fight with the party right over a - in their view obviously - minor issue such as antisemitism.

3.      Politics of remembrance

There is a broad agreement between the parties represented in the Bundestag, from the conservative to the socialist, on the importance and necessity of public memory of the Holocaust, as well as education on Nazi crimes in school curricula. For the first time in the recent history of Germany there is a party in the national parliament rejecting this consensus in its election programmes and the party programme: the AfD. In the election programme for the state elections in Saxony, where Frauke Petry was the leader of the parliamentary group, the AfD put a strong focus on national identity. The election programme calls for schools in Saxony to convey a positive sense of identity and to place a clear "emphasis on the 19th century and the German campaign of 1813" [36] which the Germans refer to as Befreiungskriege (Wars of Liberation). The Holocaust is not mentioned, but it is clear that shifting the focus of history education is at the expense of learning about Nazi crimes. Similarly, the election programme of 2016 demands turning away from a "one-sided concentration" on the "unfortunate years of our history," [37] as the Nazi era and the Holocaust are euphemistically called. In May 2016 the AfD's demand for a shift in perspective away from the memory of National Socialism became part of the party programme. The chapter "Culture, Language and Identity" states: "The current focus of the German remembrance culture to the time of National Socialism is to be broken and opened up in favour of an extended view of history, which also encompasses the positive aspects of German history that allow for a positive identification" [38]

However, the demand for an extended view of history is redundant. Germans celebrate, for example, the German reunification and they commemorate the soldiers that fell in both world wars on Remembrance Day ( Volkstrauertag) on November 18th. Claiming that Germans only commemorate the Holocaust is simply not true, yet it is characteristic of a rejection of the current politics of remembrance. This rejection of contemporary politics of remembrance might be the most problematic aspect of the current policies of the AfD and should not be underestimated, as the AfD aspires to translate these positions into policies. In January 2017 the parliamentary group of the AfD in Baden-Wuerttemberg (led by Jörg Meuthen) tabled a motion in the Budget Committee to withdraw financial support from a memorial site in Gurs, France, for Jews and other Nazi-victims from Baden. [39] The AfD demanded that young people should no longer receive funding for trips to memorial sites, but rather undertake journeys "to important sites of German history,"  making it clear that the AfD does not consider Holocaust memorial sites important to German history. Furthermore, the underlying idea that Germans only focus on the Holocaust and ignore positive aspects of German history and culture ignores the transformation of German memorial politics as it has developed in the Berlin Republic.

While it seemed that Auschwitz made German patriotism impossible, in the 1990s memorial politics got a twist: The Germans, so the new narrative goes, can be proud not despite Auschwitz, but because they have come to terms with it. Hence, Auschwitz does not stand in opposition to the "positive aspects of German history" any more, but coming to terms with it has become another source of national pride for the Germans. So, despite the fact that this new memorial politics allows for a positive identification of the Germans with their nation, the AfD rejects it. Instead, it aims to restore political positions that many people assumed to have gone forever. The AfD is breaking taboos in order to restore political validity to positions that were forced out of the political realm with great effort, and by means of a process that took decades.

4.      Pro-Israelism and Anti-Antisemitism

It was then co-leader Frauke Petry who in April 2016 made the first attempt to get the party on a pro-Israel course. In an interview with the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, she spoke out against antisemitism and criticism of Israel [40] . Petry is among the few members that can be identified who actively spoke out against antisemitism and pled for solidarity with Israel. At first sight, these positions seem to conflict with the antisemitism within the party. However, Pro-Israeli and anti-antisemitic expressions are not new phenomena within European right-wing radicalism but have become increasingly central to the agitation of right-wing radical parties in recent years. Already in the 1990s and more extensively after 9/11 the importance of rapprochement with Israel and the Jewish population grew for right-wing radical parties to the extent that they intensified efforts to cut historical and ideological ties with fascism and National Socialism and step out of their political isolation. This strategy includes expressions of solidarity with the Jewish state, which is attributed the role of a frontline state in the historical struggle of the Christian-Jewish West against Islam. The second element is a condemnation of Islamic antisemitism which, in addition to the antisemitism of left-wing anti-imperialist groups, is the only form of antisemitism that is seen as problematic. The proclamations of standing with Israel serve the purpose of legitimizing the AfD`s anti-immigration policies. This is well illustrated by an argument made by Frauke Petry when asked about her attitudes towards Israel:

"In the field of security policy Israel has shown, that despite massive hostilities from the Islamic world, it has been able to maintain this state for decades. And this can only be achieved with a militant democracy. People like to talk about it in Germany, but then Germany opens up the borders to immigrants, you can imagine what would happen if Israel stopped carrying out border controls: the country would be finished within weeks" [41]

Comparing the German and the Israeli security situation is far from reality, but it serves a purpose: it is supposed to justify Petry's own anti-immigration position through the positive reference to the Jewish state. This argument is supported by reference to antisemitism among (the mostly Muslim) immigrants. The AfD argues that Islamic antisemitism is an irrefutable proof of the failure of a liberal immigration policy and the AfD is well versed in playing off criticism of antisemitism against modern citizenship law and a modern immigration policy.

Following antisemitic riots in Germany in the summer of 2014, Alexander Gauland, who replaced Petry as co-leader of the party in late 2017, stated:

"Once again, it shows that multicultural dreams are shattered by reality when hatred is stronger than the integrating tendencies of the host society. It is the duty of all of us to counter this hatred and make a clear distinction between legitimate protest against Israel on the one hand and antisemitism on the other. The latter must not be given a place in our society" [42] .

AfD politicians have been warning of an increase in Arab antisemitism in the wake of immigration from Syria. And indeed, empirical studies show that the rates of antisemitism among Muslims are higher than those among non-Muslims [43] . However, given that the AfD is so soft on antisemitism within its own party, one might conclude that its criticism of Muslim antisemitism is instrumental and serves primarily as a moral justification for an anti-immigration policy. Even the leader of the right party wing, Björn Höcke, warned against the rise of Arab antisemitism at a rally against immigration [44] - without having to question his own antisemitic convictions.

There is a second aspect to the AfD`s proclamations of solidarity with Israel. They aim to impregnate the AfD against the charge of being radical or antisemitic in an attempt to form an alliance with Jewish communities. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that the far right party organisation Patriotic Platform was commenting on the Islamic antisemitic demonstrations following Israeli military action in Gaza during summer 2014. The Patriotic Plattform issued a statement entitled "Solidarity with Israel - Solidarity with Germany", in which a lack of solidarity between Israel and the Jews in Germany with the efforts of the AfD was expressed:

"As patriots, it is a matter of course for us that the Jewish people - like every other people in the world - should have their home state. We therefore condemn not only antisemitic but also anti-Zionist remarks. We stand by Israel and Judaism in Germany. However, we hope that Israel and the Jews in Germany will also support us more strongly in our disputes with the Islamic organisations. We would just like to remind (the public) that Charlotte Knobloch [45] spoke up for the establishment of an Islamic center in Munich in 2010." [46]

Two aspects of this statement are especially remarkable: Jews are presented as a homogeneous group and confronted with the equally unrealistic and undemocratic expectation that they should support one specific party. Therefore Charlotte Knoblauch`s support for an Islamic centre in Munich could be considered a betrayal, an unpatriotic action in the eyes of the AfD. It is obvious that the support for Israel and the Jewish communities is conditional on the support of Jewish communities for the AfD.

5.      Conclusion

Over the course of the last two years the AfD has moved further to the right. Members of the right wing of the party are more and more self-confident and do not try to hide their attitudes or their connection to far right activists who are being observed and deemed anti-democratic by scholars and German intelligence alike. As the case of Wolfgang Gedeon illustrates, the strong position of the party's right wing translates into politics: there are, and will be, no further serious effort made to come to terms with antsemitic party members. When Bernd Gögel, who succeeded Jörg Meuthen as leader of the parliamentary group in Baden-Wuerttemberg was asked if Gedeon`s antisemitism was a problem for the party, he said he couldn`t judge if Gedeon was an antisemite, as he hadn`t read his books. [47] There is no better way for Gögel to communicate his complete lack of interest for the issue of antisemitism.

The rules that used to apply do not apply any more. When the AfD was founded in 2013 it made an effort to keep right-wing extremists out of the party and took action against members who violated political norms. The AfD took care to disassociate itself from the extreme right because it was afraid to lose voters who would vote for a party in the center but not for a party associated with the extreme right. That seemed reasonable and at the time it seemed that moving to the right would keep the party around the five percent threshold. This conclusion was based on the assumption that the fraternisation with the extreme right would make people recoil from voting for the AfD. As the 2017 elections for parliament have shown, that was not the case. The party understood, before others did, that they don`t need to distance themselves from anti-democratic and antisemitic statements.

As this paper has shown the biggest and most concerning potential for a sustainable change and shift in political and social discourses resides in the historical-political tactics of the AfD. The rejection of contemporary politics of remembrance, the lack of a political will to challenge even the most obvious forms of antisemitism within the party, lead to a lowering of the inhibition threshold for the articulation of antisemitism. Not just the right party wing, but various factions in the AfD are working together to challenge and reverse the level of civility in public discourse that was painstakingly fought for, and which led to a higher level of sensibility in regard to anti-democratic ideology in German society. Neither has antisemitism become marginalised in the ideology and rhetoric of the AfD, nor has it been replaced by pro-Israel positions. Different positions towards Israel, Judaism and antisemitism co-exist within the party. The pro-Israeli and antisemitism-critical statements have served the AfD well, as they function as a kind of counterweight to its antisemitic statements. So not despite, but because of, pro-Israeli statements within the party, the AfD has been able to present itself as pluralistic and democratic, in spite of the fact that it functions as an enabler for the articulation of antisemitism in public.

[1] A clear indicator for the change of the political landscape in Europe since the turn of the millennium can be found in how European countries deal with the results of the 2017 elections for national parliament in Austria, which resulted in a coalition of the conservative ÖVP (Österreichische Volkspartei) and the right-wing FPÖ (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs). Back in 2000, the first ÖVP-FPÖ coalition alarmed the EU countries and Canada, Czech Republic, Israel and Norway, which in reaction even reduced their diplomatic relations with Austria for a few months. Such reactions are unimaginable now. However, after the 2017 elections, only the Israeli government announced that it will avoid contact with FPÖ-ministers and will work only with lower ranking officials.[1] The clear standpoint of Netanyahu`s government is quite remarkable and marks a substantial defeat for the FPÖ on the level of symbolic politics, as FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache has been working to build ties with Israel (and Netanyahu`s Likud party) over the years. Israel`s government certainly communicates that it is not willing to whitewash the dirty heritage of Europe`s right-wing parties - at least not for free, see Noa Landau, "Israel to Boycott Austria's New Far-right Cabinet Ministers", Haaretz, December 17, 2017.

[2] With the exception of Geert Wilder`s Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) which has no such ties and historical baggage.

[3] The question of how to group those parties into families and sub-families is taking a lot of room in the discussion. As stated, the AfD can be considered part of the PRRPs. Yet, it is not the objective of this paper to discuss this categorization, but to name policy positions and changes of the AfD as concrete as possible as to allow for predictions over how the party will develop.

[4] Following Cas Mudde the smallest common denominator of those parties are nativism, authoritarianism and populism. "By nativism, I mean a xenophobic form of nationalism in which a mono-cultural nation-state is the ideal and all non-natives (i.e. aliens) are perceived as a threat to the nation. Authoritarianism entails a strict belief in order and its stringent enforcement within society through discipline, law and order-based policies. Finally, populism is defined as a thin ideology that considers society to be essentially divided between two antagonistic and homogeneous groups, the pure people and the corrupt elite, and wants politics to reflect the general will of the people". Cas Mudde, "Fighting the system? Populist radical right parties and party system change", Party Politics, 2014, 20 (2), 217-226, here: 218.

[5] Yves Patrick Pallade, ;Proisraelismus und Philosemitismus in rechtspopulistischen und rechtsextremen europäischen Parteien der Gegenwart", in Geliebter Feind - Gehasster Freund. Antisemitismus und Philosemitismus in Geschichte und Gegenwart , ed. Irene A. Diekmann and Elke-Vera Kotowski (Berlin: vbb, 2009), 409-36. And: Marc Grimm and Bodo Kahmann, AfD und Judenbild. Eine Partei im Spannungsfeld von Antisemitismus, Schuldabwehr und instrumenteller Israelsolidarität, in AfD & FPÖ. Antisemitismus, völkischer Nationalismus und Geschlechterbilder , ed. Stephan Grigat (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2017), 41-60.

[6] The UK is an exception. UKIP was only represented in national parliament between 2014 and 2017.

[7] Shortly after the election Gauland was also elected to replace Frauke Petry, who had left the party, as party leader. Gauland is now leading the party together with Jörg Meuthen. While Gauland is on the hand considered to represent the middle and manages to mediate between the different party wings, he repeatedly glorifies Wehrmacht soldiers. Short before the parliamentary elections 2017 he said in a speech: "If the French are rightly proud of their emperor and the Britons of Nelson and Churchill, we have the right to be proud of the achievements of the German soldiers in two world wars", cf. "Germany should be proud of its WW2 soldiers, far-right candidate says", Reuters, September 14, 2017,

[8] Gil Yaron, ;Israel ist beunruhigt über die AfD", Die Welt, April 25, 2017,

[9] Eldad Beck, "German AfD leader: `We stand by Israel`s side', Israel Hayom, September 26, 2017, / .

[10] Manfred Gerstenfeld, ;German and Austrian far-right are not identical", Jerusalem Post, November 4, 2017,

[11] Höcke is a former teacher, a former member of the Junge Union, the youth organization of the CDU. Since 2014 he is a member of the state parliament of Thuringia and whip of the parliamentary group of the AfD in Thuringia. He also is the informal leader of the right wing of the party.

[12] Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck, ;Euro-Kritik, Wirtschaftspessimismus und Einwanderungsskepsis: Hintergründe des Beinah-Wahlerfolges der Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) bei der Bundestagswahl 2013", Zeitschrift für Parlamentsfragen 45, issue 1, (2014): 94-112, here: 107.

[13] Lucke is a Professor for Macroeconomics, founding member of the AfD and he was one of the three party whips until 2015. Under this guidance the party focused foremost economic issues such as a lower taxation for companies. Lucke was eager to keep right-winger out of the party to make the party attractive for former voters of the CDU. When the right wing of the party initiated the Erfurter Resolution and was successful in making Frauke Petry the new party whip.

[14] Politbarometer Juni 2015, ;Deutliche Mehrheit: Keine weiteren Zugeständnisse an Griechenland", June 12, 2015,

[15] The leader of Germany`s new right, Götz Kubitschek, tells James Angelos of the New York Times that he has drafted the Erfurt Resolution. James Angelos, "The Prophet of Germany's New Right", October 10, 2017,

[16] Der Flügel, ;Erfurter Resolution", March 2015,

[17] AfD Europa, ;Programm der Alternative für Deutschland für die Wahl zum europäischen Parlament am 25. Mai 2014",

[18] On October 30th 2015 states at a rally in Gera: "I no longer believe in coincidences in connection with the so-called refugee crisis. I do not believe that it is a coincidence that the list of countries of origin of asylum seekers or transit countries and the list of countries in which interventions, interventions by the Western community of values have taken place in recent years and decades are remarkably similar. These countries are Kosovo, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. Here in these countries, the Western community of values for freedom, human rights and democracy has intervened. The result was that these countries have been destabilised. I don't want to

nurture conspiracy theories, but there are some conspiracy theories that contain a core of truth. And so I have the dull assumption that the flows of refugees that are now flowing into our country and into Europe, that these flows of refugees are perhaps being used as a weapon of migration in order to achieve something that can be called the destabilisation of Europe, dear friends. And the role played by Mrs Merkel, who is still claiming to this day that the right of asylum must not have an upper limit, can only be presumed. But in my opinion, there are actually only two possibilities: The first possibility is that Mrs Merkel has lost her mind. And the second possibility is: that is so unbelievable, if it were, but it is in fact a realistic possibility in my eyes. "The second possibility is that it's inaugurated in a grand, grand geopolitical plan and is willingly implementing that plan." Bernd Höcke, ;Merkel muss scheitern, damit Deutschland und Europa gerettet werden können", AfD Landtags-TV, October 31, 2015,

[19] Günther Lachmann, ;AfD-Vorstand distanziert sich von Björn Höcke", Die Welt, December 12, 2015,

[20] Deutsche Welle: ;'Nazi Grandma' holocaust denier Ursula Haverbeck sentenced to jail,", September 2, 2016,

[21] Björn Höcke, ;Björn Höcke in Gera. Kundgebung / Demo am 28.10.2016"; October 28, 2016,

[22] Götz Kubitschek`s Institut für Staatspolitik is the center of the educated extreme right, hosting seminars and conferences. There were rather irrelevant for a long time, but their patience paid: With strong ties to the right party wing they don`t just have influence on politics but they also draw major media attention.

[23] Justus Bender, ;Sie nennen es konservativ", Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, November 9, 2017;

[24] Bender, Sie nennen es konservativ.

[25] The most recent party congress in Hanover in December 2017 showed that the radicals within the party are stronger than ever. The right-wing`s candidate, Doris Sayn-Wittgenstein, was only one vote short of becoming the new chair of the party. Justus Bender faithful estimate is that the radical and the more moderate party wing each represent about 40 per cent of party members, cf. Justus Bender, "Die AfD, der gärige Haufen", Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, December 4, 2017,

[27] Among others Ochsenreiter spoke at the AfD`s Russlandkongress, organized by the parliamentary group of in Saxony-Anhalt on August 12, 2017;

[28] Kazem Moussavi, ;Iran verlegt Buch des Rechtsextremen Ochsenreiter: ,Die Macht der zionistischen Lobby in Deutschland'", August 3, 2016;

[29] Kazem Moussavi, ;Eine Gefahr für die Demokratie in Deutschland: Die AfD-Iran-Russland-Connection", September 22, 2017,

[30] Frohnmaier proudly presents a quote from Ochsenreiter on his homepage: "Markus Frohmaier has guts and keeps word. This is a rarity in German politics" (Markus Frohnmaier has Schneid und halt Wort. Eine Seltenheit in der deutschen Politik), December 17, 2017,

[31] Grimm and Kahmann: AfD und Judenbild, 41 f.

[32] Rüdiger Soldt, ;Abgeordneter beschimpft andere Parteien als ,Volksverräter'", Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, November 16, 2016,

[33] Rüdiger Soldt, ;Der Moment, wenn Parteifreunde einen Antisemiten verteidigen", Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, November 24, 2017,

[34] Melanie Amann, ;AfD-Politiker Gedeon darf in der Partei bleiben", Spiegel Online, Januar 10, 2018,

[35] Soldt, Der Moment

[37] AfD Saxony, Wahlprogramm 2014.

[38] AfD, ;Programm für Deutschland. Das Grundsatzprogramm der Alternative für Deutschland", April 30 and May 1, 2016,

[39] Rüdiger Soldt, ;AfD will Geld für Gedenkstätten streichen", Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, January 23, 2017,

[40] Bodo Kahmann, ;'The most ardent pro-Israel party': pro-Israel attitudes and anti-antisemitism among populist radical-right parties in Europe", Patterns of prejudice 51, 2017, Issue 5, 396-411.

[41] Ruhrkultour, ;Jung & naiv interviewt Frauke Petry, Juni 28, 2016,

[42] Alexander Gauland, ;Kein Platz für Antisemitismus in Deutschland" (2014), Presseportal, July 22, 2014,

[43] Günther Jikeli, Antisemitic Attitudes among Muslims in Europe: A Survey Review (New York: Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy, 2015).

[44] Björn Höcke, ;Rede auf einer AfD-Kundgebung in Gera am 30.10.2015", October 30, 2015,

[45] Who then was President of the central council of Jews in Germany

[46] Vorstand der Patriotischen Plattform, ;Standpunkt der patriotischen Plattform: Solidarität mit Israel - Solidarität mit Deutschland!", July 23, 2014,

[47] Soldt, Der Moment.