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12 Nov, 2023 22:51

German opposition leader demands new citizens embrace Israel

Germany cannot accept any more anti-Semitic refugees, the leader of the Christian Democratic Union has said
German opposition leader demands new citizens embrace Israel

Germany should introduce “clear” measures to combat anti-Semitism, the leader of the country’s biggest opposition party, said on Sunday.

Friedrich Merz of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) called on all anti-Israeli activities in Germany to be “put to an end.”

“Talking no longer helps,” Merz said in a series of posts on X (formerly known as Twitter) as he called for “unequivocal decisions” to be taken to tackle the issue. The list of measures suggested by the opposition leader includes linking the ability to get German citizenship to a commitment to respect Israel’s sovereignty. 

“Naturalization in Germany must be tied to a clear commitment to freedom of religion and beliefs as well as to the state of Israel’s right to exist,” he said. The CDU leader also said every schoolchild should be obliged to visit a concentration camp museum before graduation and no one should be able to skip such events.

His comments came amid a war between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group which maintains de facto rule over Gaza. Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 hostages. Israel responded with heavy bombardments of Gaza and a ground operation. The ongoing hostilities have claimed more than 11,000 Palestinian lives, according to local health officials.

Israel’s response has sparked condemnation throughout the Muslim world and beyond, with some European nations, including Germany, witnessing massive pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Some of these protests have turned violent. On October 19, one such unauthorized demonstration in Berlin resulted in 174 arrests and left 65 police officers injured.

Speaking just two days after that demonstration, Merz called on the government to take even stricter measures.

“Germany cannot accept any more refugees,” he told the Swiss newspaper NZZ at that time, adding “We have enough anti-Semitic young men in the country.”

The politician also said Germans were rightfully concerned about the inflow of new arrivals from Muslim nations, as there had been “no shortage of warnings” in recent years that had been “ignored by the politicians.” He emphasized that all Muslims should not be considered dangerous but demanded that those who “do not adhere to the rules of coexistence” should face a “clear response.”