Campaigning does not bring out the best.

There is much said and written by candidates, their supporters, opponents, and commentators.

Who knows what is important, crucial, and trivial, when all fabricate, dissemble, obfuscate, temporize, and lie, and much of what the victors actually do will depend on details that develop after the election?

Chaos in the Middle East, a stream of refugees, and violence from established communities of Muslims has its implications for European and American politics.

What's in it for the Jews? And where should the Jews stand? are questions on both sides of the Atlantic.

The pictures are not all that clear. One can quarrel about all of the following---

Western European countries have produced right wing parties, movements, or individual heroes urging stronger policies against the import of foreign cultures that threaten what are seen as essential national values. The most obvious targets are Muslims, but in some cases, also Jews. Israel is both condemned and held up as a model of resistance that deserves more support than provided by the existing government.

 
One of the things that complicates analysis is a split is in the Le Pen family that created France's National Front. The movement's patriarch, Jean-Marie, is an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier, while his daughter and successor, Marine, defines herself as a friend of Israel.

The Dutch politician and creator of the Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders, has become an iconic opponent of Muslims. 

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About Israel, Wilkers has said, 
 
"Israel is a lighthouse and the only democracy in a dark and tyrannical region . . . It's part of us, of our European identity. Israel is fighting our war."

From one Jewish perspective, Wilders represents the good Dutch, recalling the story of those who protected Jews during the Nazi occupation. 


However, many Dutch helped the Nazis locate Jews.

Our own family counts a cousin who was saved, and an uncle who was turned over and sent to his death.

Ann Frank's story shows both sides, i.e., a period of being hidden, that ended badly.

About the Netherlands in recent years, a 2011 study found that 
 
"At least five million Dutch have a satanic view of Israel. . . . The study’s authors asked people if they believe that Israel is conducting an extermination war against the Palestinian Arabs. About 39% of the Dutch polled answered in the affirmative."

There are Dutch Jews who oppose Wilders on account of his racism, as well as those who question his cooperation with other European rightist groups that are explicitly anti-Semitic. .

Wilders is a hero of an Internet friend, who sends me video clips of his appearances.

The same friend is one of those who have indicated their strong opposition to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Some appear to be enthusiastic supporters of Trump, and some may have come to him as the least objectionable alternative.

One friend appears to be wavering. He expects--or hopes--that Trump will mellow, and become more the typical politician, as his handlers move him from primaries to the November election.

Within the Trump campaign, however, is some of the same uncertainty about Israel as appears among Europeans concerned about foreign influences.

Trump himself is as hard to read on Israel as on other issues. He has criticized the Obama for failing to support Israel, asserts his friendship, but has indicated that he would be neutral or statesmanlike on the issue of Palestinian statehood.

Adding to the confusion was an interview on Israel Radio with someone calling himself the chairman of Republicans in Israel.

There is such an organization, whose web site asserts its association with the Republican National Committee. However, the site does not identify a chairperson.

The man claiming to be chair expressed his reservations about Donald Trump, saying that Trump's adviser on foreign policy is Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, and that Shelby is one of four Republicans who did not sign the letter supporting an increase in US aid to Israel.

Searching for confirmation encounters the limits to Google.

Israeli and overseas Jewish media treat that letter as a significant document, but they do not go beyond indicating that Bernie Sanders was not one of the signers. Other sources note that there are lots of letters signed or not signed by Senators and Members of the House of Representatives. None of them mean a great deal, especially those expressing a general posture without specifics.

Google is also silent about Shelby's role in Trump's campaign. There is one item indicating that the Senator will support whoever is the Republican nominee, several items indicating Shelby's support for Israel, and a report that the Arab American Institute gave the Senator's voting record a score of 0.

Maybe the Republicans in Israel should select another chairperson.

Israeli Republicans and other Jews paying attention to politics in the US and throughout Europe, can sort through what is said and written, as well as what has not been said or written, and decide what is most and least important.
 
There are Israeli and British media flaps about Ken Livingstone, who claims he was quoting Benyamin Netanyahu about Hitler not initially wanting to kill Jews, but working with Zionists to send them to Palestine.


That media mess is tinged with Livingstone's less than stellar reputation on matters Jewish and Israeli.


One can find historical evidence that Hitler facilitated the movement of Jews from Germany to Palestine. One can also find a few Jews supporting Hitler early on. A larger number of Jews did not take Hitler's threats seriously, and stayed on until it was too late.


Anyone expecting Jewish unity does not understand Jews.


Comments welcome

--
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
irashark@gmail.com 
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

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