Mudslinging against Israel because of Oslo killings?

Analysis: Some fanatic parties use the Jewish state, Breivik-Likud connection, to try to gain respectability in Europe.

By
August 3, 2011 04:01
3 minute read.
Norwegian terror suspect Breivik leaves court

Norwegian terror suspect Breivik leaves court 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen/Aftenposten via Scan)

 
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Norwegian mass murder Anders Breivik’s killing of 76 people coupled with his anti-Islamic writings have prompted the European media to inject reported Likud Party contacts with conservative and extremeright parties into the debate about July 22’s Oslo massacre.

In a series of interviews with The Jerusalem Post, European and Israeli experts see a largely illusory attempt to manufacture an alliance between extremist-right European parties and Israel’s government.

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Moreover, some analysts view this as an oversimplified attempt to conflate pro-Israel conservative parties with reactionary ultra-right-wing parties in Europe, while ignoring the real motivation of some fanatic right-wing parties to use the Jewish state as a means to gain democratic respectability in Europe.

The German magazine Der Spiegel titled a recent article “The Likud connection: Europe’s right-wing populists find allies in Israel,” which highlighted relations between MK Ayoub Kara (Likud) and the extremist right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ).

Kara faced a wave of criticism in the Israeli press, among Israeli diplomats, and from Austria’s Jewish community over his decision to meet with FPÖ leaders.

Prof. Barry Rubin, an Israeli Middle East expert and director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, said the depiction of connections between the Netanyahu government and the FPÖ is “very misleading.”

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“The only real link that can be shown is one or two members of parliament [the Knesset] acting alone. Israel has boycotted the Austrian FPÖ – a point the article deliberately ignored – and there are no Israeli officials who have met with these parties in any direct way. The real story, then, is the exact opposite: how limited Israel’s contacts are with parties that proclaim they are pro-Israel,” Rubin said.

He continued that “a few months ago the Israeli Embassy in London took the unprecedented step of condemning the English Defense League. I’m not passing judgment on these different parties, but clearly there are hardly any ties between Israel and any of them, and that means both Israel’s government and major political forces in Israel.”

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, an Israeli who has written several books on Norwegian- Israeli relations, said Europe is “in a totally confused situation.”

In contrast to the Spiegel report, Gerstenfeld does not see a unified politically right-wing movement in Europe. Besides the liberal and conservative Right, there are three types of right-of-center political organizations, he said. The Progress Party in Norway and Geert Wilders Party for Freedom are pro-Israel and stay away from anything that “smells of Nazism.”

Italy’s Northern League falls into a second category on the European Right. It is primarily a separatist movement.

The third component includes Belgium’s Vlaams Blok party, the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement, the British National Party, France’s National Front, and Austria’s FPÖ, which, according to Gerstenfeld, meet the standard of radical right-wing groups.

Gerstenfeld said the FPÖ, for example, along with other radical-rightist parties “are people on the European Right who think they can whitewash themselves with ties to Israel.

“Israel is in the forefront of the enormous totalitarian threat to all humanity coming to out of the world of Islam, which also threatens Muslim moderates, Europe and anything Western. Former prime minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar also sees it this way and wrote an article saying that if Israel goes down, the entire West goes down,” said Gerstenfeld.

Karl Pfeifer, an Austrian- Jewish Journalist, shares Gerstenfeld’s analysis that the FPÖ and its party leader Heinz-Christian Strache are “trying to gain legitimacy and use Israel” as an avenue to secure recognition as a democratic party. He said David Lasar, a Jewish member of the FPÖ, is a “third-class politician on the local level” who follows in the tradition of Peter Sichrovsky, a Jewish-Austrian former FPÖ politician. Lasar serves on the Vienna city council.

Jörg Haider, an Austrian neo-fascist politician who died in 2008, recruited Sichrovsky to the FPÖ. Some said that Haider sought a token Jewish figure to deflect attention away from the party’s anti- Jewish members and leadership.

The need for a kind of political kosher stamp of approval is a tactic frequently employed by extreme left-wing and radical right-wing groups across Europe to shift attention away from party platforms that stoke anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments.

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