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(photo credit: AP [file])
BERLIN - A "witches brew" of Islamic fundamentalists, left-wing intellectuals and neo-Nazis is causing a new resurgence of anti-Semitism to spread across Western Europe and must be tackled, one of the continent's leading experts on the subject has told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview.
British Labor MP Dennis MacShane - a close ally of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and co-author of a hard-hitting report on the rise of anti-Semitism across Europe - told the Post in an interview in Berlin on Tuesday that Western Europe was suffering from a "new anti-Semitism" that had to be tackled head-on.
Part of this, he claimed, came from some sections of the Islamic communities of Western Europe - both fundamentalists and intellectuals - who were in an unorthodox alliance with left-wingers in propagating anti-Semitic sentiment. It was no longer simply a problem of extremist right-wing neo-Nazis as it was in the 20th century, he pointed out, but said these, too, still existed.
MacShane, who was until May 2005 minister for Europe in Blair's government and remains a centrist Labor MP and Blair loyalist, gave the interview while in Berlin giving a talk to a special conference on anti-Semitism. Experts from the United States, France and Germany also gave presentations outlining the problem in individual European states.
His presentation was designed to inform delegates in Germany of the results of an anti-Semitism investigation, which his Parliamentary committee - including former British Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan-Smith and Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne - completed earlier in the autumn.
The results of the investigation, reported in the Post in early September, showed that anti-Semitism was on the rise.
Speaking to the Post at the British Embassy in Berlin after giving his presentation, MacShane said the view of Islamic fundamentalists should be combated and discredited vigorously, and claimed that those on the Left who believed "extremists will stop hurting you if you are simply as nice to them as possible" were misguided.
"You have a witches' brew. You have the rise of ideological Islamism across Europe which is openly anti-Semitic and subscribes to the appalling statements by the president of Iran that Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth. Islamist ideological politics are rising in a coherent and organized way - Web sites, meetings, articles and preaching - which demonizes Jews," he explained.
"Then you get the 'soft' anti-Semitism that you get from Muslim intellectuals - these are often religious. The Muslim Brotherhood, who say that there is a Zionist or Jewish control over the media and politics - whereas just in the 1930s you heard talk of the Jewish conspiracy, today you hear talk about the Jewish Lobby.
"And there is also traditional hard right-wing anti-Semitism," he continued. "Don't forget that in Austria, the far-right got 50 percent of the vote, and in France they knocked off the socialist candidate at the last presidential election, and in England the British National Party is now the second party in quite a number of working class constituencies.
"Then you have the Left, and it's not just the far-left but the legitimate Left's hatred of Israel - this kind of distorted association of Israel and America as the twin demons that have caused all the world's problems, and associate the 'Jewish influence' with all of this.
This, he concluded, was the kind of witches' brew that allowed
anti-Semitic discourse to inject itself into the political DNA of Western Europeans and even many North Americans.
He claimed that the solution was for Europeans to stand up vigorously for what they believed in. This included "a robust defense of Israel's right to exist," as well as insisting on "the separation of faith from politics," so fundamentalists who claimed their actions were part of God's will are instantly discredited.
He challenged the Left to realize the danger of Islamic fundamentalist statements in society.
MacShane added that he was "embarrassed" by how long it took the Home Office in Britain to deal with hate-preachers Sheikh Omar Bakri-Muhammad and Abu Hamza and others like them.
"For years, there was a huge complacency within the Home Office about how serious a problem hate-preaching was in Britain," he added.
He said Europe was now starting to realize the seriousness of the problem.
"No Jew should be frightened of going to synagogue, or his child going to school, because he might face attacks because he is Jewish," he said. "Fighting anti-Semitism is part of a common struggle against intolerance and demagoguery. It is a noble political cause to fight."
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