Candidate for top post in Germany’s CDU ‘ashamed’ of anti-Semitism

Armin Laschet, premier of the German state of North Rhine Westphalia, on Sunday pledged strong action by his country against anti-Semitism, and racism in general, at home.

“I am ashamed that we are experiencing this once again in Germany, 75 years after the liberation of [the] Auschwitz [death camp],” Laschet said in Jerusalem, referring to anti-Semitic and right-wing violence.

It was in Germany’s national interest to safeguard Israel’s security, said the 59-year-old, who also toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial institute and met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

“But it is also a national interest to guarantee the security of Jews in Germany,” he added.

Laschet’s visit was meant to signal that Germany was a “strong state, with a strong civil society, that would fight racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination.”

Rivlin called Laschet a “great friend” of Israel and one of the most important and promising personalities within the ruling Christian Democrats. Israel has been following the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as well as the latest right-wing and anti-Semitic incidents in the country with concern, he said.

It was Laschet’s first visit abroad since he announced his candidacy to take over the CDU when the party holds a special conference on April 25. The new CDU leader is likely to take the party into federal elections, which must be held by the autumn of next year.

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