New requirement in the state of Saxony-Anhalt to achieve German nationality: recognize Israel’s right to exist


“I expressly recognize the special German responsibility for the State of Israel and Israel’s right to exist and condemn any anti-Semitic attempts.”

View of Magdeburg, capital of Saxony-Anhalt.
View of Magdeburg, capital of Saxony-Anhalt.Olivier Cleynen/CC

The German state of Saxony-Anhalt, governed by conservatives (CDU), social democrats (SPD) and liberals (FPD), has added with immediate effect a requirement to those already established for the granting of the German nationality: recognize Israel’s right to exist.

This has been stipulated by the Magdeburg Ministry of the Interior in a decree addressed to the administrative districts and independent cities of the Land. The Minister of the Interior, Tamara Zieschang, thus collects a suggestion formulated by the CDU presidentFriedrich Merz, after the Hamas attacks in Israel last October, and for which he had been criticized.

Among those who criticized him was the Federal Ministry of the Interiorled by the SPD, and the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestagbecause they consider that the idea It is not necessary given the planned reform of the citizenship law. This reform considers that acts motivated by anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia or other misanthropic behavior are incompatible with the guarantee of human dignity of the Basic Law and violate the free democratic basic order. “Therefore, such acts preclude naturalization,” the Social Democrats argued.

In Saxony-Anhalt, however, they have decided to act. The authorities will now also have to comply with the special decree issued by the State Ministry of the Interior and Sports on November 29, 2023. Persons seeking German nationality must acknowledge in writing the special German responsibility towards the State of Israel and Israel’s right to exist. The decree recommends that local authorities in Saxony-Anhalt require the following declaration from applicants:

“I expressly recognize the special German responsibility for the State of Israel and the right of Israel to exist and condemn any anti-Semitic attempts. I do not pursue and have not pursued efforts directed against the right of the State of Israel to exist.”

Article 16 of the German Citizenship Act already stipulates that the naturalization certificate can only be issued if a “solemn commitment” to Germany is first made: “I solemnly declare that I will respect the Basic Law and the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany and “I will refrain from doing anything that could harm her.”

It seems that Saxony-Anhalt is no longer satisfied with this. Commitment to Israel’s right to exist has become a prerequisite for obtaining German citizenship. After all, This is the raison d’être of the German State, states the decree. Therefore, in the future, applicants will need to confirm in writing immediately before naturalization that they recognize Israel’s right to exist and also condemn any efforts directed against the existence of the State of Israel.

If naturalization applicants refuse to make this declaration, the certificate cannot be issued to them and their application will be rejected.

Denial if there are anti-Semitic attitudes

“The security of Israel and the protection of Jewish life in Germany is a German reason of state and a shared obligation. Whoever comes to our country and seeks protection here must recognize this without ifs and buts. Whoever wants to obtain German citizenship must recognize this obligation and Israel’s right to exist,” explained Zieschang, a member of the CDU.

According to the minister, “the naturalization exams should also be completed with questions about the special responsibility of Jewish life in Germany and Israel’s right to exist. Naturalization should be denied in case of anti-Semitic attitudes.”

The president of the German-Israeli Society and former Green Party politician, Volker Beck, expressed his sympathy for the Magdeburg decree: “A compromise of this kind allows in the future to revoke naturalization in case of fraudulent deception. A rejection of anti-Semitism and an affirmation of the security and existence of Israel makes perfect sense,” she maintains.

In fact, the Saxon decree also stipulates that the revocation of naturalization must be examined “if it is subsequently proven that the naturalized person made the declaration under fraudulent deception.” However, Beck also noted that he was not convinced by the decree’s specific confession formula: “It’s too focused on day-to-day politics.”

While Saxony-Anhalt will in future focus on the internal attitude of naturalization applicants, Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann (FDP) recently announced that more account would also be taken of the antisemitic behavior within the framework of the next reform of the citizenship law.

In the future, naturalization authorities will have to investigate even minor crimes, such as insults, to determine whether the acts were committed for anti-Semitic motives. “If a judge determines that there are anti-Semitic motives, the author will no longer be able to become a German citizen,” Buschmann declared at the end of October.

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