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As Germany votes, here’s where the leading parties stand on Jewish issues

16 8 11

JTA — Germany’s pivotal national election takes place on Sunday, and one thing is sure: After 16 years in office, Chancellor Angela Merkel will not be at the helm any more.

Who comes next? Pundits predict a new three-way coalition of center-left and moderate parties — most likely the Social Democrats, led by current Vice Chancellor Olaf Sholz; the left-leaning Greens, led by Annalena Baerbock; and the center-right Free Democratic Party, led by Christian Lindner.

Alternatively, Merkel’s party — the center-right Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, now headed by Armin Laschet — could be a second or third partner in a coalition.

Jews make up a tiny minority of the population — less than 200,000 in a country of 83 million — and they don’t vote as one.

“The Jewish vote in Germany is not big and not very important,” said Meron Mendel, director of the Frankfurt-based Anne Frank Educational Center. “Almost all of them are migrants from the former Soviet Union [and] their biggest concerns are not especially ‘Jewish’ but much more their situation [as newcomers] in Germany,” said Mendel, who came to Germany from Israel in 2001.

Though the Jewish vote is not courted in Germany the way it is in the United States, politicians do take note of particular issues of concern to Jews, in part out of a duty to ensure that the Holocaust not be forgotten.

“There is no data on what Jewish voters are interested in as a group, no survey,” said Dalia Grinfeld, a Berlin-based assistant director of European affairs for the Anti-Defamation League. “Jews are part of overall society and… they vote on different issues,” from climate change to health policy, from the economy to refugees, said Grinfeld, who was born in Stuttgart.

Furthermore, Jewish leaders, religious or political, generally don’t endorse parties. But observers are paying close attention to how the main democratic parties shake out on the big Jewish issues: antisemitism and its various sources, and Israel and other foreign policy.

With that in mind, in August the German Jewish ValuesInitiative — a non-partisan NGO that provides input for political decision makers and voters — sent a list of platform questions to all the parties in the Bundestag, or parliament, except for the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD.

Following suit, the Die Welt newspaper approached the heads of each party, drawing on the ValuesInitiative questions. They included the AfD, but its representative did not respond.

In their........

© The Times of Israel

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