Posted on December 7, 2023

German State: Citizenship Applicants Must Support Israel

Jon Shelton, DW, December 6, 2023

The eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt will require individuals seeking to become naturalized citizens to confirm in writing, “that they recognize Israel’s right to exist and condemn any efforts directed against the existence of the State of Israel.”

Speaking on Wednesday, ahead of a meeting of state and federal interior ministers, Saxony-Anhalt Interior Minister Tamara Zieschang called on Germany’s 15 other states to adopt similar rules.

Zieschang previously said her ministry had sent a decree to all Saxony-Anhalt municipalities informing them of the policy in late November.

No citizenship without supporting Israel’s existence

The decree instructs authorities to pay close attention to whether an applicant exhibits antisemitic attitudes and states that “obtaining German citizenship requires a commitment to Israel’s right to exist.”

In a letter to local authorities, the Saxony-Anhalt state Interior Ministry said naturalization is to be denied to foreigners who engage in activities directed at Germany’s liberal democratic order as outlined in the country’s Basic Law. The denial of Israel‘s right to exist and antisemitism are included among such activities.

Local authorities have been instructed to deny an applicant’s naturalization request if they refuse to sign the declaration. A refusal is also to be documented in the individual’s application filing for future reference.

Germany, which claims a special historical responsibility to protect Jews after the horrors of the Holocaust — in which Germany’s then Nazi government organized the industrial-scale murder of over 6 million European Jews during the Second World War — has called Israel’s security its own “Staatsräson,” or “reason of state,” as then Chancellor Angela Merkel proclaimed in an address to the Israeli parliament in 2008.

There has been considerable discussion in Germany regarding the issue of antisemitic attitudes among migrants who harbor resentment against Israel, with pro-Palestinian demonstrations across the country becoming flashpoints for antisemitic behavior in the wake of the October 7 Hamas terror attacks in southern Israel.

Saxony-Anhalt was also the scene of a 2019 synagogue attack that killed two people. The perpetrator, however, was a right-wing German extremist.