Don´t be fooled. Europe´s far-right racists are not discerning (GUARDIAN UK COMMENT) Anne Karpf 03/28/12)
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Opportunistic words of love for Jews and Israel cannot disguise the
European far right´s toxic rhetoric of hatred
On Saturday, in the Danish city of Aarhus, a Europe-wide rally
organised by the English Defence League will try to set up a European
anti-Muslim movement. For Europe´s far-right parties the rally,
coming so soon after the murders in south-west France by a self-
professed al-Qaida-following Muslim, marks a moment rich with
potential political capital.
Yet it´s also a delicate one, especially for Marine Le Pen. Well
before the killings, Le Pen was assiduously courting Jews, even while
her father and founder of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was
last month convicted of contesting crimes against humanity for saying
that the Nazi occupation of France "wasn´t particularly inhumane".
Marine must disassociate herself from such sentiments without
repudiating her father personally or alienating his supporters. To do
so she´s laced her oft-expressed Islamophobia (parts of France, she´s
said, are suffering a kind of Muslim "occupation") with a
newfound "philozionism" (love of Zionism), which has extended even to
hobnobbing with Israel´s UN ambassador.
Almost all European far-right parties have come up with the same
toxic cocktail. The Dutch MP Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-
immigrant Freedom party, has compared the Qur´an to Mein Kampf. In
Tel Aviv in 2010, he declared that "Islam threatens not only Israel,
Islam threatens the whole world. If Jerusalem falls today, Athens and
Rome, Amsterdam and Paris will fall tomorrow."
Meanwhile Filip Dewinter, leader of Belgium´s Vlaams Belang party,
which grew out of the Vlaams Blok Flemish nationalist party, many of
whose members collaborated with the Nazis during the second world
war, has proposed a quota on the number of young Belgian-born Muslims
allowed in public swimming pools. Dewinter calls Judaism "a pillar of
European society", yet associates with antisemites, while claiming
that "multi-culture ... like Aids weakens the resistance of the
European body", and "Islamophobia is a duty".
But the most rabidly Islamophobic European philozionist is Heinz-
Christian Strache, head of the Austrian Freedom party, who compared
foreigners to harmful insects and consorts with neo-Nazis. And yet
where do we find Strache in December 2010? In Jerusalem alongside
Dewinter, supporting Israel´s right to defend itself.
In Scandinavia the anti-immigrant Danish People´s party is a vocal
supporter of Israel. And Siv Jensen, leader of the Norwegian Progress
party and staunch supporter of Israel, has warned of the stealthy
Islamicisation of Norway.
In Britain EDL leader Tommy Robinson, in his first public speech,
sported a star of David. At anti-immigrant rallies, EDL banners
read: "There is no place for Fascist Islamic Jew Haters in England".
So has the Jew, that fabled rootless cosmopolitan, now suddenly
become the embodiment of European culture, the "us" against which the
Muslim can be cast as "them"? It´s not so simple. For a
start, "traditional" antisemitism hasn´t exactly evaporated. Look at
Hungary, whose ultra-nationalist Jobbik party is unapologetically
Holocaust-denying, or Lithuania, where revisionist MPs claim that the
Jews were as responsible as the Nazis for the second world war.
What´s more, the "philosemite", who professes to love Jews and
attributes superior intelligence and culture to them, is often
(though not always) another incarnation of the antisemite, who
projects negative qualities on to them: both see "the Jew" as a
unified racial category. Beneath the admiring surface, philozionism
isn´t really an appreciation of Jewish culture but rather the
opportunistic endorsement of Israeli nationalism and power.
Indeed you can blithely sign up to both antisemitism and
philozionism. Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik
described himself as "pro-Zionist" while claiming that Europe has
a "considerable Jewish problem"; he saw himself as simultaneously
anti-Nazi and pro-monoculturalism. The British National party´s Nick
Griffin once called the Holocaust the "Holohoax", subsequently
supported Israel in its war "against the terrorists", but the day
after the Oslo murders tweeted disparagingly that Breivik was
Most Jews, apart from the Israeli right wing, aren´t fooled. They see
the whole iconography of Nazism – vermin and foreign bodies,
infectious diseases and alien values – pressed into service once
again, but this time directed at Muslims. They understand that "my
enemy´s enemy" can easily mutate into "with friends like these ...".
The philozionism of European nationalist parties has been scrutinised
most closely by Adar Primor, the foreign editor of Haaretz newspaper,
who insists that "they have not genuinely cast off their spiritual
DNA, and ... aren´t looking for anything except for Jewish absolution
that will bring them closer to political power."
Similarly Dave Rich, spokesman of the Community Service Trust (CST),
which monitors antisemitic incidents in Britain, told me that far-
right philosemites "must think we´re pretty stupid if they think
we´ll get taken in by that. The moment their perceived political gain
disappears they revert to type. We completely reject their idea that
they hate Muslims so they like Jews. What targets one community at
one time can very easily move on to target another community if the
climate changes." Rich´s words, spoken before the murder of Jews in
Toulouse, now sound chillingly prescient. The president of the French
Jewish community, Richard Pasquier, judges Marine Le Pen more
dangerous than her father.
French Muslim leaders rallied round Jewish communities last week.
Next week sees the start of Passover, a festival celebrating the
liberation of Jews from slavery in Egypt, when Jews often think about
modern examples of oppression. Let´s hope that French Jewish leaders
use the occasion to rally round Muslim communities, and to remember
that ultimately, racism is indiscriminate. (guardian.co.uk © Guardian
News and Media Limited 2012 03/28/12)
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