Jewish groups in Europe and the United States have reacted with alarm to the gains made by far-right political parties in the recent elections for European Parliament. Right-wing and nationalist parties posted significant victories in Austria, Britain, Denmark, Hungary, Romania and the Netherlands in four days of voting that ended on June 7.
The Paris-based European Jewish Congress (EJC), an umbrella organization for Jewish communities in Europe, said: “As we assess the results of this week’s elections, one disturbing trend has already crystallized; the gains made by extreme-right groups is a Europe-wide phenomenon. The success of the far-right and nationalistic parties that won seats in the elections on the basis of racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic platforms points to a clear erosion of tolerance and a clarion call to European officials to immediately engage in intercultural dialogue. The success of such rabid groups as The Freedom Party in the Netherlands, the Freedom Party in Austria (FPO), the Danish People’s Party, the British National Party, and Jobbik in Hungary, among others, will sadly only serve to embolden those who espouse the dangerous concepts of extreme nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.”
The New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said it was “deeply distressing that the blatantly anti-Semitic parties received so many votes,” and called on European leaders to “ensure that anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry never again gain a foothold in Europe…. It is imperative that European leaders do not remain silent, but speak out and reject the hateful and bigoted worldview of parties of the far-right and their supporters.”
The Geneva-based World Jewish Congress (WJC) said: “Far-right parties and extremists have made gains across Europe amid protest votes and low turnout for the European Parliament (EP) elections. The elections were held in all 27 EU member states from Thursday to Sunday last week. Support for centre-Left parties and governments collapsed across the EU as fringe parties, picked up protest votes.”
Although these and other Jewish groups are not alone in their concerns about rising anti-Semitism in Europe, their fear of the far right often obscures the indisputable fact that some of the greatest threats to Jews (and Israel) in contemporary Europe stem from the left side of the political aisle. Indeed, it is no big secret that all across the European continent, left-wing intellectuals are playing a crucial role in making anti-Semitism seem respectable. Of course, they are (usually) careful to promote their hatred of Jews only indirectly. Instead, modern anti-Semitism is typically disguised as anti-Zionism and an obsession with Palestinian victimhood.
European Judeophobia often takes on new life forms such as anti-Semitic boycott campaigns and anti-Israel demonstrations, the growing intensity of which the European left not only overlooks or obscures but often actively supports. It is transmitted by Europe’s left-leaning mass media, which not only believes that the systematic demonization of Israel promotes the postmodern and postnational ideological worldview of Europe’s governing class, but also appeases the wrath of Europe’s Muslim immigrants, lest they expose the myth of European socialist multicultural utopia.
As the European left intensifies its common cause with the Palestinian movement, Islam itself has emerged as a major threat to Jewish life in Europe. Although definitive statistics are scarce, most of the acts of violence against Jews and Jewish institutions in Europe in recent years seem to be perpetrated by Muslim extremists. Indeed, a 2003 report published by European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) attributed the increase in anti-Semitic violence in Europe mainly to Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups. But those findings were so embarrassing that European left-wing elites quashed the report and commissioned another one. A subsequent EUMC report, which used a more politically correct research methodology, concluded that the “noticeable rise in reported anti-Semitic incidents” was the fault of “young, white Europeans incited by traditional right-wing extremist groups.”
In any case, right-wing groups such as Geert Wilder’s Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and the Danish People’s Party, far from being the purveyors of “rabid” racism and anti-Semitism that the EJC claims, are some of the best allies that Jews (and Israel) will find in Europe today. In fact, the Danish People’s Party is a strong supporter of Israel as well as the US-led War on Terrorism, of which Israel is a major beneficiary. It has called for stronger sanctions against totalitarian regimes and dictatorships, especially those in the Islamic world. It has also supported academic grants for specific research into terrorism and Islamism. For his part, Wilders calls himself a true friend of Israel. During a recent visit to Jerusalem, Wilders said: “We see Christians and Jews as part of one culture. When I’m here I’m with my people, my country, my values. I feel more at home here than in many other European countries. Israel’s a democracy – it’s everything we stand for.”
Wilders and a growing number of other Europeans understand the threat that Islam poses to Europe and to the Western world. They are also taking a stand against an European leftwing political class that despises its Judeo-Christian heritage so much that it has become an undiscerning apologist for Islam. Unfortunately, the Islamization of Europe, which is being promoted by an intolerant leftwing multicultural dogma that gives immigrants more rights than natives, is one of the main factors contributing to the alarming rise of truly troublesome extremist groups like the Hungarian Jobbik party.
The European political right is far more nuanced and complex than catch-all labels such as “far right” or “extreme right” imply. Whereas right-wing groups in Denmark and Holland, animated by common sense, are pushing back against a European multicultural movement that has run amok and has pushed Western Civilization to the edge of the abyss, other groups like those in Austria, Hungary and Romania, animated by ignorance, are promoting hatred against any and all immigrants just for the sake of it. It is a world of difference.
The knee-jerk tendency to stereotype the European right-wing as anti-Semitic obscures the fact that, with few exceptions, the only genuine European supporters of Jews and Israel are on the political right-wing. Indeed, in the bigger scheme of things, Jews have much more to fear from the European left than they do from the European far right.
Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group