(JNS.org) Jewish organizations condemned the European Parliament for giving a seat on its Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee to Udo Voigt, the leader of Germany’s neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) from 1996-2011.
Some seats on the European Union's (EU) parliamentary institution are allocated to independent politicians such as Voigt. The civil liberties committee, which is in charge of protecting human rights and combatting discrimination, has now granted a seat to a man known for praising Hitler and for claiming that “no more than 340,000 Jews” (rather than 6 million) died in the Holocaust.
“The idea of a neo-Nazi as a guardian of European human rights is sickening,” said Stephan Kramer, director of the American Jewish Committee’s European Office on Anti-Semitism.
Voigt’s new parliament seat was enabled by the recent elimination of a rule in Germany that required political parties to garner at least 3 percent of the vote in order to enter the European Parliament.
“The threshold percentage for parties entering the European Parliament should be considered just as important as the rules in place in the German Bundestag [legislature], where [the threshold] is a minimum of five percent, and most other national parliaments in Europe,” Kramer said.
World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer urged the EU to make “the necessary statutory changes” to prevent a future occurrence similar to Voigt’s parliament seat.
Efraim Zuroff—director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office and a well-known investigator of Nazi war criminals—said that regardless of the threshold issue, “one would imagine that Voigt's public statements in praise of Hitler and the Waffen-SS and his denial of the Shoah would have been sufficient to bar his entry to a committee whose primary purpose is the defense of justice and civil rights, but obviously that is not the case in contemporary Europe,” according to the Jerusalem Post.