Support for Israel must not serve as a cover up for antisemitism - opinion

Extreme-right groups in Europe spread antisemitism using ‘Soros’, ‘The Rothchilds’ and the like as code-words for “the Jews” while rejecting accusations of antisemitism because “they support Israel"

This 2017 billboard in Budapest was part of a Hungarian government campaign to “demonize George Soros,” the report said. (photo credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP)
This 2017 billboard in Budapest was part of a Hungarian government campaign to “demonize George Soros,” the report said.
(photo credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP)

We are living in polarized times. The world seems to have been divided into left and right, with all political positions pushed into this two-dimensional frame. By doing so, we push people into a black and white way of thinking which is not only terribly simplistic and incorrect but is also harmful to the battle most of us fight against stereotyping, hatred and discrimination including antisemitism.

Take for example the critique of billionaire George Soros, a non-Zionist Jew from Hungary who survived WW2, while many of his close family members were murdered. Soros advocates for a liberal democracy, in particular the human rights of individual persons, and is critical of nationalistic sentiments; a legitimate critique in itself and a hot topic in our time. It becomes problematic when it is not Soros’ ideas which are criticized, but the person himself.

Not about him using his immense wealth to push his ideas, but also – and this is when things become tricky –accusations are made regarding his holocaust history, his Jewishness , and his attempts to "manipulate" Hungary, Europe, and the world. 

Like the Rothchilds, Soros too has become a symbol, a code word for "the powerful Jews who are conspiring to dominate the world." Tens of thousands of posters, financed by the government, criticizing Soros and bearing his photo were hung all over Budapest, calling for the “extinction of Soros and the powers he symbolizes”. 

Recent questions in the Dutch parliament, by extreme-right politician Baudet refer to the Rothchild family and their involvement in the great reset. The World Economic Forum is another target of the extreme right, suspecting ‘the world-elite’ of conspiring to control the world and thus dominate nation states which will consequently lose their power to them. They refer to ‘the Jewish elite’, The family Rothchild foremost, but also Zuckerberg and other Jews too. 

These extreme right groups oppose Muslims and wrongfully consider Israel as the arrowhead of their war on Islam, hence their support. And they expect support from ‘the Jews’ and Israel for their xenophobic, discriminating ideas. These are the same people who are convinced “the Jews (and/or Israel) are behind the Covid-19 epidemics”, sometimes as part of the same conspiracy to control the world.

Populist circles in Israel too seem to join the sentiment against Soros, the “world elite” and the like. Although they hardly refer to the Jewishness of this world-elite, they share the narratives which largely contribute to these antisemitic narratives. Coming from Israel adds credibility to those insane insinuations. In Israel we also see a reluctance to criticize groups, politicians and countries from the ‘pro-Israel camp’, such as Orban or the Tea Party movement.

The accusations of both “the Jews” and Israel for being part of the complot to control the world and eliminate its population show that the separation between the two elements is an illusion. Antisemitic sentiment eventually include anti-Israel sentiments.  

Antisemitism is a constantly mutating virus, and we must fight it rigorously. We must strive to recognize it as early as we can in order to prevent an escalation of this non-curable disease and realize that support for Israel from these same circles is not only untrue, but also dangerous. Support to Israel must never be tolerated as a cover-up for Antisemitism.  

Hanna Luden was born and raised in Israel. She has lived in the Netherlands for more than 30 years, and is currently the director of CIDI – a Jewish charity advocating for Israel and fighting antisemitism. This op-ed is published in partnership with a coalition of organizations that fight antisemitism across the world. Read the previous article by Hananya Naftali