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German far-right party plans anti-Israel rally

BERLIN (JTA) — Germany’s largest far-right party plans to demonstrate against Israel on the country’s official Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The National Democratic Party announced it will hold a "silent vigil" on Jan. 27 to demand a "stop to the Israeli Holocaust in Gaza." The evening vigil is scheduled to take place in a central Berlin district.

The right-extremist party, which has representatives in a handful of state parliaments and counts some 7,200 members nationwide, said in an announcement that even the current cease-fire "could not obscure the fact that the Israeli war is genocidal." Later it says, "In our own country we oppose foreign rule, and we recognize the rights of Palestinians to their own state without having to submit to Israeli domination."

Germany’s national day of remembrance coincides with the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945. In 2005, National Democratic legislators walked out of the parliament of Saxony during a moment of silence honoring the victims of the Holocaust after claiming that Germans were the true victims.

In related news, the German Press Agency reported Thursday that for the second time in two months, police found hidden weapons during a search related to right-wing extremists in the state of Lower Saxony. Also Thursday, Holger Apfel, the National Democratic Party political leader in the former East German state of Saxony, praised Nazi-era racist policies as "pro-family."

Calls for outlawing the party have increased, particularly from Jewish leaders in Germany. An effort to ban in 2003 failed on a legal technicality.

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