European Antisemitism: Right and Left

Germany’s September 24 election results led to international headlines cautioning a return to the spirit of the 1930s. A racist party receiving 13% of the votes is cause for concern anywhere, but especially in light of German and European history.

Germany was not the only site of disturbing developments reflecting the ongoing growth of extremism in Europe.

But two other seminal events received little to no media coverage, suggesting that the rise of extremism is seen through a partisan lens.

The first of these occurred in the UK, where on September 25, a Labour Party annual conference featured antisemitic narratives. Members of the Labour Party, which makes up 40% of the British Parliament, compared Israel to Nazi Germany. One speaker proposed greater freedom for Holocaust denial, arguing for the ability to criticize and “to discuss every issue, whether it’s the Holocaust: Yes or No.” The climax came when party members loudly applauded calls to “kick out” Jewish organizations from the Party.

Attendees of the Labor conference were asked not to document statements made by select speakers. Furthermore, the Party’s leadership failed to condemn the antisemitism or respond to the shameful events – a telling approach considering the events were promoted by the party’s official channels.

Another case, reflecting a more troubling blurring of moral limits, occurred in the European Parliament, in Brussels. On September 27, some Parliamentarians organized an official event with members of EU-designated terror organisation “Popular Front Liberation of Palestine” (PFLP). The main speakers were PFLP terrorist Leila Khaled – whose terrorist activities include hijacking two airplanes – and the head of the Palestinian non-governmental organisation (NGO) Addameera group affiliated with the same PFLP terrorist organization and that receives funding from a number of European governments.

The terrorist “infiltration” (albeit by invitation) continued, when a banner with a large photo of Marwan Barghouti – a convicted terrorist responsible for the murder of many civilians – was proudly displayed on stage alongside symbols of the EU and its Parliament.

The European Parliament event was organized by the left-wing coalition GUE/ NGL, a coalition that openly opposes Israel’s existence and participates in antisemitic campaigns, as well as BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) against the Jewish State.

The event’s co-organizer, Spanish NGO Unadikum, participated in a December 2014 gala to raise donations for a different PFLP-affiliated group active in the Gaza Strip. At the event, Unadikum’s CEO declared that “we do not recognize Israel as a state.” He further made remarks about Jewish world domination and justified violent Palestinian “resistance.”

So with thundering applause and clenched fists raised in salute, the European Parliament became a venue for terrorists and their affiliates to lecture against the existence of Israel, exude blatantly antisemitic conspiracies, and justify violence.

The election results in Germany, the UK Labour Party conference, and the European Parliament’s terrorist event, all reflect how Jewish people and the State of Israel are primary targets for extremists from both the left and right.

Debating “who is more antisemitic” is irrelevant. Antisemites from the right believe in racial supremacy – that Jews are an inferior race. Antisemites from the left believe that everyone deserves a right to self-determination, except Jews. Likewise, antisemites from radical Islamist and fringe Christian theologies embrace religious superiority over an inferior Judaism.

The common element among these groups, right, left, religious, etc., is a basic argument which varies only in respect to how their superiority, and Jewish inferiority, is expressed.

The first step in addressing the phenomena is to ensure that Europe’s newsmedia and officialdom treat antisemitism identically no matter where it stems from, and that one strain not be tolerated if it suits a particular political narrative.

The second step is to stop official European funding and support to organizations with ties to terror groups and/or that promote antisemitic propaganda – issues extensively documented by NGO Monitor researchers like myself.

Europe must understand that these alarming developments stem from extremists at both ends of the political spectrum. There is no room for self-righteous partisanship.

This is a translation from a Hebrew article published by Itai Reuveni in NRG, October 3rd 2017

About the Author
Itai Reuveni is director of the Israel desk at NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute.
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