The surge of Germany's far-right party, AfD, indicates a growing challenge to democracy and civil society. * Europe's political climate undergoes a seismic shift as Germany, once inoculated by its Nazi past, embraces the far-right.
Germany, a nation that once looked its Nazi past in the eye and vowed "never again," finds itself at an unsettling crossroads. The rise of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a far-right political party, has left many questioning whether Germany's historical inoculation against far-right ideologies has waned. A recent Wall Street Journal article, "Once Inoculated by Its Nazi Past, Germany Harbors Growing Far-Right Currents," by Elizabeth Findell, paints a rather unsettling picture of the modern German political landscape.
The AfD, now polling at a record 21%, ahead of the center-left Social Democrats and just 4 percentage points behind the center-right Christian Democrats, is becoming a force to reckon with. The party's agenda opposes not just immigration, but even the concept of a unified Europe, with calls for Germany to exit the EU and close its borders. It also accuses the mainstream parties of failing to address key issues like immigration, inflation, and the Ukraine crisis.
This rise in far-right sentiment is not isolated to Germany but reflects a broader surge across Europe. The AfD, however, differs from other European nativist groups in that it has become more radical, not less. "We now have a party in the national parliament open to working with those who want to abolish democracy," observes Kai Arzheimer, a political scientist at Mainz University.
The Torah teaches us the values of justice, kindness, and tolerance. In Deuteronomy 16:20, it states, "Justice, justice shall you pursue," emphasizing the importance of moral and social justice. The rise of far-right ideologies that challenge democratic norms and target minority communities appears contrary to these teachings. In the Talmud, it is suggested that the world stands on three things: Torah, avodah (service to God), and gemilut chasadim (acts of loving-kindness). The rise of parties like the AfD poses a threat to these very pillars by promoting division, intolerance, and a rollback of democratic principles.
Yet, even in these challenging times, one must not lose sight of the ultimate aim—Geula, or redemption, led by Moshiach. Chassidic thought teaches that even the most trying situations have sparks of goodness that can be elevated and sanctified. The challenges that the AfD and similar groups pose should catalyze us to redouble our efforts in promoting unity, education, and social justice to accelerate the arrival of Moshiach.
While it's disheartening to see a political landscape that leans towards fragmentation and nativism, it is crucial to maintain hope and take actionable steps. European leaders and citizens alike should take this development as a wake-up call to protect the values that the continent has long stood for. In these times, we must emphasize our shared values and the teachings that call us towards justice, compassion, and the betterment of society, fulfilling the prophecies and teachings about Moshiach and the ultimate redemption for all.