“We need to talk,” says moderator Ilanit Spinner at the beginning of the “Political Talk” by the Association of Jewish Students in Bavaria (VJSB) and the Young Forum Munich on Tuesday evening in the Augustiner-Keller in Munich. There are many important issues that concern Jews in Bavaria, the leaflet affair surrounding Bavaria’s Economics Minister Hubert Aiwanger is just one of them. Around 50 people, including many young adults, gathered in the inn.
The Greens and the FDP have sent their top candidates Katharina Schulze and Martin Hagen. The SPD is represented by the Vice President of the Bavarian State Parliament, Markus Rinderspacher. The panelists from the governing parties are relatively unknown. Benedikt Flexeder, a young list candidate from the Freising district, sits on the podium for the CSU. The Free Voters sent the direct “and therefore top candidate” Daisy Miranda from Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate.
Before the discussion starts, an opinion is collected among those present and those listening online: Which party would you vote for today? The result is not comparable with current survey values such as the BR-Bayerntrend. In the Augustiner-Keller, the FDP wins with 32 percent, closely followed by the Greens (29 percent). The CSU barely manages 21 percent, the SPD twelve percent and the Free Voters bring up the rear with six percent.
Then the panel guests have to answer the first questions. They are only allowed to answer briefly. To questions like “Promised Land of Bavaria or Promised Land of Israel?” or “Jewish Bavarian or Bavarian Jew?” the answers are similar. Especially when it comes to the latter, you don’t want to make any judgments. Then a clear disagreement arises for the first time. When asked whether Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) should have fired his deputy Hubert Aiwanger (FW) after the leaflet affair, the representatives of the opposition parties answered with a clear yes, the government parties with no.
Only later will there be time to explain the positions in more detail. Hagen begins and admits that he can respect Söder’s decision with Charlotte Knobloch’s argument that Aiwanger would have wallowed even more in the role of victim if he had been fired. But Aiwanger is “not suitable to stay”. The reason for this is not his past, but his handling of the situation. Rinderspacher is of the opinion that Aiwanger is damaging Bavaria’s reputation and the culture of remembrance. Regarding the fact that Aiwanger’s brother is said to have written the leaflet, he says: “I don’t believe him.” Schulze finds Söder’s decision incomprehensible. Aiwanger styled himself as a victim and was not suitable as deputy prime minister. Flexeder describes the leaflet and the way the matter was handled as “abusive.” Nevertheless, Söder’s decision to leave Aiwanger in office was the right one. Miranda once again emphasizes his distance from the leaflet and that there must always be a presumption of innocence at the beginning.
Nobody should have social or material reasons for voting for the AfD
Two or three more times the topic of the Aiwanger case comes up briefly. Otherwise, this evening is a lot about how we can take action against anti-Semitism in education, in the digital world and in society in general. A frequently mentioned keyword in this context is “prevention”. This must be financed by the Free State and the funds should not be cut, says Miranda. Punishments would have to be carried out. Rinderspacher also says you have to be tough. Schulze lists a number of concrete measures. She emphasizes several times that the police need to be better equipped and that there needs to be a virtual police station where you can easily report incidents of anti-Semitism online. The Green politician advocates the creation of a state anti-discrimination office and that counseling services should not only be available in large cities.
When it comes to how to prevent the AfD from gaining strength, Hagen says you have to solve the problems that motivate people to vote for the AfD. Flexeder also emphasizes that politicians need to be “carers on site” again. They had neglected this in the past. Miranda avoids mentioning concrete measures. She rejects the previously unmentioned accusation that the Free Voters are fishing for voters in the AfD camp. At this moment the discussion gains momentum. “You can’t make the AfD small by adopting their verbal slogans,” says Schulze. Rinderspacher emphasizes that no one should have social or material reasons for voting for the AfD.
“Judaism is more than the kippah and the Hanuka candlestick,” the moderator changes the subject harshly. This evening will also be about how Jewish tradition can be preserved. Flexeder thinks there are too few points of contact. “It is important that we show Jewish life not only in retrospect, but also in the present and future,” says Hagen, receiving applause. Perhaps one reason why in a second vote in the end, the FDP even won 39 percent of the votes. The evening ended with 37 percent for the Greens, ten percent for the CSU and SPD and four percent for the Free Voters.