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Politics weekly: How does Germany's far-Right view the Gaza conflict?
This week, Germany's far-right is grappling with a fundamental question that could disrupt the remarkable stability that has propelled the Alternative for Germany (AfD) to approximately 23 percent in current polling.
The key question they're pondering is, ‘which of our bogeymen bears ultimate responsibility for the bloodshed in Israel and Gaza?"
Are the culprits the greedy American globalists who, in their insatiable hunger for chaos and conquest, have turned their attention to the Middle East after igniting turmoil in Ukraine?
Or, was it the barbarous Muslims who have opened up another front in their war against Western civilisation and who, lest we forget, are on the verge of turning western Europe into a new caliphate?
"Of course, it's impossible to prove," Hans-Thomas Tillschneider, deputy AfD leader in Saxony-Anhalt, told far-right periodical Freilich. "But I would venture a guess that the US might have at least encouraged the attack through their clandestine Hamas contacts. That, in my view, is the most plausible explanation."
Mr Tillschneider comes from the east of the country, where the AfD reflexively parrots Kremlin propaganda, almost as if the Berlin Wall never fell.
So it was little surprise to see that party co-leader Tino Chrupalla, from Saxony, also formulated a statement that could have been drafted by Vladimir Putin’s press secretary.
Commenting for the first time four days after the terror attacks, Chrupalla wrote on Twitter that: "The Hamas attack on Israel is to be condemned. I mourn for all the war dead… Diplomacy is imperative, with a sustainable solution for all sides as the ultimate goal.”
Chrupalla’s call for diplomacy chimes with his attempts to rebrand the AfD as a "freedom party" to attract NATO-hating peaceniks who've been abandoned by the Greens.
Somewhat suspiciously though, Chrupalla's calls for peace in Ukraine are tied to a demand for Germany to immediately start buying Russian gas. The 48-year-old former painter-decorater makes no secret of his attachment to Moscow; this year, he marked the 78th anniversary of the end of WWII at the Russian embassy.
However, this peacenik-ery hasn’t gone down well with the other faction within the party - those who see the main bogeyman as being global Islam.
Rüdiger Lucassen, AfD's defense spokesman, replied acidly that “diplomacy is not the answer to an attack."
"Not all the children's corpses have been recovered in Israel yet, and in Germany, 'diplomats' are multiplying like mushrooms,” he said, before wishing the Israeli army “happy hunting a bountiful prey.”
In a similar vein, the AfD's former leader in Berlin, Georg Pazderski, said of Chrupalla’ comment: "What a senseless, foolish tweet. Those 1,200 Israeli men, women and children are not 'war dead' - they are victims of Hamas butchers."
Alice Weidel, the other party co-leader, has not publicly criticised Chrupalla, but she has clearly chosen to link the attacks to Germany’s alleged problems with its own Muslim population.
Describing Israel's response as "necessary and justified," Weidel wrote on Twitter before adding that “Germany's contribution should be to dismantle radical Islamist networks rather than promote them.”
In another statement, she called for a “complete moratorium on all migration from these countries” - meaning Arab states - claiming that German women were now “free prey to aggressive immigrant men who are allowed to enter our land without hindrance.”
These new cracks in the party’s veneer of harmony come after a period of calm that ensued after former leader Jörg Meuthen quit last year after failing in an attempt to try and steer the AfD towards politically respectability.
Chrupalla and Weidel both serve extreme wings of the party who were previously most concerned with defeating anyone who tried to rid the party of former neo-Nazis.
The war in Israel is showing that these factions aren’t as closely aligned as first appears to be the case, though. One group reads the secret to their current success as stoking up fear of migrants at a time when hundreds of thousands of people are once again illegally entering the country. The other factions sees their success as primarily the result of their efforts to “free” Germany from the yoke of US imperialism.
MP Jürgen Pohl, a Chrupalla ally, has already told his boss’ critics to put up or shut up.
“Anyone who doesn't like the course that has brought the party success is free to leave. After all there are enough trans-Atlantic parties and warmongers out there,” he sniped.
The German Review is a newsletter, written by Jörg Luyken, on German politics and current affairs.
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