The Jewish world has reacted with horror to the results of the European elections as displaying an upsurge of parties promoting Jew-hatred. Certainly, the results give plenty of cause for such concern. But in significant respects, such a response is wildly off-beam.
Some parties which surged, such as Greece’s Golden Dawn, Hungary’s Jobbik and Germany’s National Democratic Party (NPD), are undoubtedly fascist or bigoted. And France’s National Front, which avoids the open Jew-hatred of its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, nevertheless retains troubling undertones.
But others lumped in with these truly noxious parties by anti-Semitism-watchers are not racist or fascist at all. Britain’s UKIP wants Britain to leave the EU, restore its democratic self-government and preserve its national identity. In Italy, the former comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five Stars movement campaigns against political corruption.
In Denmark, the Danish People’s Party is against Islamization and non-Western immigration and wants to maintain the Danish monarchy and uphold the Danish constitution. In Finland, the Finns Party welcomes work-based immigration and requires immigrants to accept Finnish cultural norms.
All these parties are being smeared by association with truly racist and fascist groups as giving cause for concern. Two important errors are being made here. The first is to confuse the populist defense of national identity with fascism and bigotry. The second is to assume that only the EU stands between us and the fascist hordes.
In fact, it’s the EU that has created all these groups, both populist democrats and anti-democrats.
The EU was founded in the wake of World War II on the assumption that nationalism was the cause of fascism. Subsume national identity by pooling sovereignty among member states, went the thinking, and nationalism would be abolished and with it prejudice and war.
The EU’s supra-identity necessarily entailed the free movement of populations between those member states. That in turn reinforced the idea of multiculturalism, which meant that no culture could assert its values over any other.
This was supposed to outlaw bigotry. Instead, it outlawed all those who wanted to uphold their national identity and culture and give it political expression through democratic self-government.
There is nothing inherently racist to want to preserve your country’s cultural identity rather than see it transformed into a kind of international transit lounge by unlimited migration – or worse, steadily Islamized by radical Muslims who aim to colonize the West for Islam.
The desire to wipe out a national culture and its expression through self-government is itself a kind of fascism. Yet it is those who defend national identity who are denounced as racists or fascists.
Across Europe, mainstream political parties have all colluded in this process. The deeply anti-democratic EU has ridden roughshod over national identity and democratic institutions.
To fill that dangerous vacuum, new parties have arisen which alone are prepared to address such concerns. And some of those parties are indeed odious and frightening.
In Greece, Golden Dawn members have attacked immigrants, political opponents and minorities and are frequently responsible for anti-Semitic graffiti. Its spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris wrote in 2011, “What would the future of Europe and the whole modern world be like if World War II hadn’t stopped the renewing route of National Socialism?” Hungary’s Jobbik party is deeply racist and anti-Jew. In November 2012, its deputy parliamentary leader, Márton Gvöngvösi, said it was “timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian government, who, indeed, pose a national security risk to Hungary.”
In 2005, the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution said of the NPD that it “unabashedly aims towards the abolition of parliamentary democracy and the democratic constitutional state” and that its statements “document an essential affinity with National Socialism.”
These are truly fascist, anti-Jewish and bigoted parties. It is a grotesque travesty to lump these together with UKIP and other defenders of Western democratic traditions and culture.
In fact, by far the biggest threat currently facing the Jews of Europe comes from the ugly alliance between left-wingers and Islamists, whipped up by the campaign of incitement against Israel.
The man arrested in Marseilles over the deadly attack two weeks ago on the Jewish Museum in Brussels, which left four dead, was a French Muslim who had spent much of last year with jihadi fighters in Syria.
In 2006, a young French Jew, Ilan Halimi, was tortured and murdered by a Muslim gang. In 2013, another French Muslim murdered four Jews in Toulouse.
The anti-Semitism researcher Manfred Gerstenfeld has pointed out that, while far from all Muslims in Western Europe are anti-Semites, a large percentage are just that and from a young age. In 2011, a study of 117 interviews with Muslim youths in Berlin, Paris and London found most of them expressing strong and often aggressive anti-Jewish feelings. In Copenhagen, all main assaults on Jews have been perpetrated by Arabs. In the Swedish city of Malmö, the many attacks on Jews there have almost all been carried out by Muslims.
Yet Jewish communities don’t campaign against this Islamic violence. Indeed, in the UK at least they are more likely to campaign against those who campaign against it. Incredibly, prominent fighters for Israel and the Jewish people – both Jews and non-Jews – but who also campaign against Islamic extremism find themselves bad-mouthed as “Islamophobes” by elements within the UK Jewish leadership.
For understandable reasons, Diaspora Jews tend to have a knee-jerk reaction against anyone who opposes immigration – even though today’s mass movement of populations from south to north is a world apart from the minuscule Jewish migration patterns of the past.
To such Diaspora Jews, anyone who speaks against mass immigration or Islamic extremism is a racist or Islamophobe – and therefore a heartbeat away from fascism.
As a result, such Jews provide cover for Islamic Jew-hatred while falsely damning Western patriots – and their own natural allies – as fascists.
The way to nip the European neo-fascist movement in the bud is for Europe to become once again an alliance of self-governing nation-states.
Jews, meanwhile, should stop those knees from jerking and start to realize that Jew-hatred is not just a right-wing phenomenon.
Melanie Phillips is a columnist for the Times (UK).
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