By Adam Taylor / The Washington Post
Rafi Eitan, a former Israeli minister and head of the Mossad operation that led to the capture of Nazi fugitive Adolf Eichmann, has filmed a message of support for the German far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD).
The message, recorded in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day and posted to social media accounts by both AfD and Eitan himself, shows the Israeli offering greetings to the party’s leadership and saying, “We all in Israel appreciate your attitude towards Judaism.”
“I’m sure that if you work wisely, strongly and, most important, realistically … that instead of ‘Alternative for Germany,’ you might become an alternative for all of Europe,” Eitan said.
According to Israeli media reports, Eitan also wrote a message in German on his personal Facebook page that said “the Muslim world and its culture are very different from those of the West. Anywhere there are Muslims today, in any European country, one can expect violence and terror because of these differences.”
Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, wrote on Twitter that he rejected Eitan’s remarks and accused the AfD of glorifying Nazi Germany’s past. “It’s sad and a shame,” Issacharoff said.
Founded in 2013, AfD has captured a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment to emerge as the third-strongest party in the German Parliament, called the Bundestag, last year with almost 13 percent of the vote.
In a country that has generally been keen to put its dark 20th-century history behind it, some members of the AfD have embraced it: One the party’s founders has said that the country should be proud of its Nazi-era soldiers, while another member has called Berlin’s Holocaust memorial a “monument of shame.”
In January, a German court ruled that one AfD politician could be called a Holocaust denier, a charge that the politician, Wolfgang Gedeon, has denied.
The party has generally focused much of its ire toward Muslim immigrants, and many of its elected members claim a strong affinity toward Israel: A poll from last September found that 90 percent of AfD Bundestag members supported a statement by Chancellor Angela Merkel that “Israel’s security is Germany’s raison d’etre.”
The 91-year-old Eitan has a legendary history in Israeli intelligence and played a key role in the capture of Eichmann, a major architect of the Holocaust, from Argentina in 1960. Eichmann was subsequently put on trial in Israel and executed.
Eitan later worked as an adviser on terrorism for the Israeli government and served as a Knesset member.
He has previously expressed similar support for Austria’s Freedom Party, an anti-immigrant party founded by ex-Nazis. According to reports in the Austrian media, Eitan appeared at an event with Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache, whom he dubbed the “next president of Austria,” warning of the dangers of Islam.