Confab on anti-Semitism and EU-Israel ties takes place in Budapest

Leaders say rise of far-right political parties throughout Europe shows new face of anti-Semitism.

June 15, 2014 06:16
1 minute read.
Far-right Jobbik party rally in Budapest, May 4, 2013

Far-right Jobbik party rally370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

BUDAPEST – Anti-Zionism is the number one bigotry in the world, according to Robin Shepherd, director of International Affairs at the Henry Jackson Society, who spoke at the Israel Allies Foundation European Summit – which kicked off a three-day conference on Saturday in Budapest.

The bipartisan foundation works with parliamentarians worldwide in order to generate support for the Jewish sate and foster interfaith dialogue among lawmakers.

In his address, Shepherd discussed the growing wave of anti-Semitism seizing the continent and the far right-wing parties like Hungary’s Jobbik and Greece’s Golden Dawn who are partly responsible for encouraging it.

“There has always been an anti-Israel narrative in Europe,” he said, citing the lingering impact of the Holocaust.

“But you shouldn’t expect anti-Semitism today to be the anti-Semitism of tomorrow,” he cautioned, warning that anti-Jewish rhetoric must change over the years in order to adopt to current modern sensibilities.

The new face of anti-Semitism, he asserted, lies in these right-wing groups who have managed to gain popularity in recent months.

Jobbik, for example, secured one fifth of the vote in Hungary’s parliamentary elections in April. A victory by Marine Le Pen’s National Front party followed in May, although she has made efforts to distance her party from the reputation it has acquired over the years.

“Marine Le Pen is trying to detoxify the brand,” Shepherd added, referencing her decision to distance herself from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen after he made anti-Semitic comments last week.

“Everyone realizes there’s a crisis and values the importance of not repeating previous mistakes,” Willem Griffioen, executive director of the Israel Allies Foundation said at the conference, which included participation of MPs from Poland, Italy and the Netherlands.

“In previous years, members would never consider patiently hearing a talk on alternatives to the two-state solution,” Griffioen said, referring to a speech by chief foreign envoy of the pro-settler Yesha Council, Dani Dayan, who also spoke to the conference on Saturday.

“Instead of the two-state formula, I am an advocate of the two-stage formula, which I call peaceful non-reconciliation,” Dayan said, encouraging audience members to think outside the box since the two-state solution is “unattainable.”

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