Glenn Beck, alongside MK Danny Danon..
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
In recent years, a dangerous alliance has grown between the radical Left and
Islamic extremists. Elements on the radical European Left have made common cause
with Hamas and Hezbollah, since both sides share a desire to see the elimination
of Israel. Yet there is another alliance that should also concern Israelis. This
is the dangerous and irresponsible flirtation between the Israeli Right and
extremists in Europe and the United States.
Politicians such as Danny
Danon and Ayoub Kara of the Likud have been quick to forge ties with parties and
personalities with deeply questionable backgrounds, simply because of their
apparent support for Israeli policies.
Danon and Kara cannot be dismissed
as a fringe element, as both wield influence within the Likud. Kara is deputy
minister for the development of the Negev and the Galilee, and is said to be
close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, while Danon is a deputy speaker of
the Knesset and chairman of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and
Kara met in December with the leader of Austria’s
far-Right Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, causing great anger and dismay
among Austria’s Jews. The head of Austria’s Jewish community, Ariel
Muzicant, later claimed in a letter to Netanyahu that by meeting with Strache,
Kara had “stabbed Austrian Jews in the back.”
Kara and Strache share a
hatred of Islam. It is interesting that Kara justified his meeting with Strache
on the grounds that his party was not anti-Semitic. Even if this were true, the
subtext of this claim is that it is fine to befriend xenophobic politicians, as
long as their hatred is directed at Muslims and other minorities, rather than
Jews. According to this logic, Hungary’s extremist Jobbik party can also look
forward to winning respectability among Israelis, once it ditches its openly
The same rule applies to the embrace of populist
Dutch politician Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party. Wilders, who
was invited to Israel by Arye Eldad of the National Union, can hardly be
described as a true friend of the Jewish people. His party played a significant
part in the prohibition of Jewish ritual slaughter of animals in The
Netherlands, effectively banning the provision of kosher meat.
flirtation of the Israeli Right with xenophobic European politicians causes
difficulties for many Jewish communities in the Diaspora that are deeply
uncomfortable with anti-immigration policies. However, one would not expect
Eldad and like-minded politicians to dwell too much on the concerns of Diaspora
Jewry: After all, it has been an article of faith for many on the Israeli Right
that Jews belong in Israel and not in Europe.
In Britain, the leader of
the right-wing British National Party, Nick Griffin, has claimed that his party
was the only one to support Israel during Operation Cast Lead. The even more
extreme English Defence League displays Israel’s national flag at its rallies.
These organizations exploit the Jewish state’s struggle against the terrorism of
Hamas and Hezbollah, as part of their broader campaign against Islam. This is
absurd, since most jihadist terrorism, whether in Afghanistan, Chechnya or
Kashmir, is unrelated to Israel’s struggle against Islamic extremism.
Unfortunately, Israeli politicians such as Kara have endorsed the simplistic
ideology of the far Right. This plays into the hands of the country’s
detractors, some of whom claim that Israel serves as a recruiting sergeant for
jihadists the world over.
By enlisting Wilders and Strache to their
cause, certain Israeli politicians run the risk of dragging the country into
crude xenophobic campaigns that the European far Right has launched against its
own Muslim population. Kara has stated openly that since right-wing leaders are
“fighting our enemies, we should back them.” This reckless posturing can have
unpredictable consequences. Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto included a
claim that Israel was a “frontline citadel” in the campaign against Islam. Is it
really in Israel’s interest to win friends like Breivik, and encourage them in
Since both the Dutch and Austrian leaders are a growing political
force in their countries, it is in Israel’s interest to open a dialogue with
them. However, Kara’s insistence on meeting with Strache, against the advice of
the Israeli Foreign Ministry, was based purely on the Austrian’s hatred of
What is one to make of Danon’s foolish support for American
broadcaster Glenn Beck, who is not even an elected politician? This is a man who
has alienated large swathes of American Jewry with his unsophisticated attack on
the US Reform Movement. Danon’s support for Beck is based on his ardent support
for Israeli settlement of the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Is the Israeli
settler movement so desperate for friends that it needs Beck’s support? It is
troubling that Netanyahu has effectively acquiesced to the reckless activity of
his Likud colleagues, by his lack of leadership on this issue.
must choose its friends more carefully, and give thought to the messages it is
sending, at a time when the country is becoming increasingly isolated from
mainstream international opinion.
The writer is a researcher, analyst and
writer on international affairs .