Shimon Samuels
Shimon Samuels

Extreme left, far-right and European Jews

In May 2004, I was invited to Warsaw by then Polish President, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, as one of 8 speakers on the theme “The Dangers of Joining the European Union.” My subject was “Antisemitism,” an Imam from the World Muslim Congress was to talk on “Islamophobia.”

I felt an exceptional enthusiasm in the thought of EU enlargement as a supranational identity, reflecting in part chapters of Jewish history.

There are Czechs and Slovaks but the only unhyphenated Czechoslovaks were Jews, just as unhyphenated Yugoslavs.

A Soviet ID was mistakenly considered safer than a document marked “Yevrei.”
To be “British” was culturally simpler than being “English.”

International banking began with a Europe-wide network of Jewish and Lombard financial exchanges. A precursor of the Euro.

At the same time, the right to national Jewish citizenship created a loyalty to the sovereign state. In wartime, Jew would combat Jew across the trenches. That possibility ended after World War One.

Jewish recruitment, in World War Two, to allied armies in combating the Axis, was high per capita. The highest with 550,000 in the Soviet Red Army, even if they were not recognized as Jews under Stalinism.

My enthusiasm for supranational Europe was since doused by its attitudes to the Jewish State, thus inciting to Jew-hatred.

Moreover, the EU is cracking over Brexit and by the vaccination wars of the Covid pandemic.

The Jewish contribution to modern Europe, from Nobel laureates and the United Nations — from the Declaration of Human Rights of René Cassin to the Genocide Convention of Raphael Lemkin. based on the Holocaust

Its role in a centrist Labour movement to those in a centrist Conservatism, has been but forgotten or abused in an avalanche of neo-antisemitism.

The sliding of the Left and Right-wings of populism to political extremes, threatens Jewish life on issues from brit mila circumcision to kosher meat slaughter, from wearing skull-caps to reading Hebrew in public, from cemetery desecrations to concern for Israel and as a focus for terrorism.

Political parties of left and right seek Jewish votes, in regional and general election ballots, while the extreme left takes on the role of extremist Islam and welcomes veteran terrorists.

The extreme right leadership in France, Germany, Hungary, etc. courts Jews by support for Israel,thus attracting Jews who consider these movements as “the enemy of my enemy (Islamism) as my friend.”

While these party leaders may respect the Jewish State, they are, mostly, careful to not publicize their Jewish outreach, lest they lose their core supporters, a retinue of neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers.

In brief, the extreme right target of today is the People of Friday. They may eventually come after the People of Saturday.

About the Author
Shimon Samuels is Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He has served as Deputy Director of the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, European Director of ADL, and Israel Director of AJC. He was born in UK and studied in UK, Israel, U.S. and Japan.
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