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The Threat of Euro-Skeptic Antisemitism

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen meets with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, in Ramallah, West Bank, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Von der Leyen is on a two-day official visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. (Atef Safadi via AP)
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen meets with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, in Ramallah, West Bank, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Von der Leyen is on a two-day official visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. (Atef Safadi via AP)

After two years of Covid lockdowns and travel restrictions, I recently availed myself of the luxury of taking a trip to Europe. As a teenager, I escaped to Europe in search of inspiration and culture, a refreshing alternative to the commercial, soulless society of neo-liberal America. Since then, I’ve always held a reverence for Europe, especially for the countries that hosted me for a summer each: France and Italy.
I also fled to Europe from Israel, feeling increasingly alienated from the dysfunctional politics and militaristic culture that surrounded me. Growing up in America, I learned to appreciate peace and serenity, quiet and respect. Israel is just the opposite: rough and aggressive, group- minded and frenetic. For years I’ve tried to find my place in Israel and I can honestly say that it hasn’t been an easy experience. So, after getting my Covid booster, I decided to take my chances and fly to Spain and Italy in order to rediscover my philological sense and to entertain myself with the exotic experiences of a foreign culture.

What I discovered, however, jarred me. As an Israeli political activist, I’ve grown accustomed to the challenges of making myself understood by others. My political ideology had developed into a complicated mess of contradictions, disappointments and impracticalities, or so I thought. When I landed in Madrid, however, I realized that my ideology mattered much less than what I represented as an Israeli. However much I tried to distance myself from political Zionism, I was still perceived in the eyes of the “woke” left as a collaborator, and partially responsible for the crimes of occupation and ethnic cleansing. In one particularly memorable conversation at Compultense University in Madrid, a student told me “Israel is illegitimate because you expelled the Arabs in 1948.” I knew better than to confront him with his country’s expulsion of the Jews and Muslims in 1492. That conversation would get us nowhere…

As I became more aware of Europe’s hypocrisy, criticizing Israel for its occupation while ignoring the hundreds of years of human suffering caused by European colonization and warfare, I began to feel more and more dejected and alienated from the surrounding society, pretty and rich as it may have seemed. When I got to Italy, where I would spend upwards of two weeks touring and meeting with fellow activists, I began to understand that the situation was much less stable and much more dangerous than what I had observed in Madrid.

The E.U. is currently a corrupt bureaucracy that occupies the great nations of Europe. Not all the nations are equal. Germany and France, for example, are much more complicit in the occupation than Italy, Spain and Portugal, but for the most part it is seen as an external occupying force, dictating its terms to the individual nation-states. The subject of national identity is completely taboo in academic, educational and formal political settings. The idea of defining oneself as a nation, again, is explicitly forbidden by the E.U.-moderated establishment forces. Thus, while there still exists an Italian people, the Italians are taught in school that one must eschew such nationalistic sentiment, for fear of establishment reprisal, and for fear of losing oneself to the fascist devil.

This causes a ripple effect across European society. Instead of moderating the internal discourse of the individual nation-states, the E.U. prefers to wield a large mallet and hit each nation over the head, economically and politically, if they dare to defy such moralistic norms. Recently, Poland has expressed intent to reassert independence, and has thus been personally blackmailed and fined by the E.U. President. This, in turn, results in an increasingly ineffective, stratified and unsustainable system that lacks the ability to adapt and maintain itself. The E.U. is dying and if we don’t do anything, all hell will break lose.

Under the thin veneer of the U.S-backed E.U., old-school European fascism is festering. Following VE Day, the US and other Great Powers laid out the framework for what would become the E.U. They meant to suppress fascist tendencies and allow the nation-states to reassert their independence under the close supervision and guidance of responsible powers. However, for reasons that we cannot begin to contemplate, the E.U. bureaucracy has instead grown to parasitic dimensions and the West has foregone its willingness to deal diplomatically with the individual nation-states. The E.U. maintains full control over diplomatic communications between the nations and the outside world, which makes it very difficult to deal with any parties from within the nation-states who voice criticism of E.U. policy. Such an impediment also blocks Israel from keeping an eye on the political situation inside the individual nation-states. The EU uses this smoke-screen in order to hide its corrupt, heavy-handed approach to rebellious elements from the left and healthy nationalist sentiment, but also in order to conceal from the world the increasingly problematic situation regarding re-awakened fascistic and neo-Nazi tendencies that are growing in places like Italy and Germany.

My first encounter with anti-Semitism occurred in Madrid, but in Italy I spoke with native Italians who themselves fear the increasingly empowered fascist movements that are gaining ground on the far-right of the Italian political spectrum. Organizations such as “Casa Pound” and “Forza Nuova”, alongside the mafia, strike fear in the hearts of the majority of Italians. They look to the state in expectation that Italy will deal with such problematic groups, but they’ve become more and more disappointed with the state’s inability to act. The E.U. has not only damaged nationalist pride, it’s also weakened many of the individual states’ internal structures, making it nearly impossible for the states to act responsibly vis-à-vis the fascists. They lack the public support and political resolve in order to deal with the racists on their own, but they also fear asking for E.U. or U.S.  support because that would open the door for collective punishment in the form of anti-fascist propaganda and austerity controls that would be meted out against entire nations, and they also fear fueling the flames of anti-European sentiment by “tattling”, which would serve to legitimize the fascists in the eyes of many moderates.

As one might expect, the Europeans’ growing frustration with the E.U. doesn’t bode well for Jews in Europe or Israel. In Europe, Jews are being increasingly targeted by the fascists, while Israel is being targeted for other, politically-minded purposes. Moderate critics on the right see Israel as an enabler of the E.U.’s harsh policies on suppressing nationalism. They see Israel as a post-traumatic patient who refuses to move on from the atrocities of the Holocaust. They distance themselves from the fascists and are insulted by Israel’s apparently fetishistic preoccupation with WWII which categorizes all Europeans as fascists in-potentia. Moderates on the left, alternately see the E.U. as complicit in supporting the Israeli occupation.

Surprisingly, the E.U. tenaciously defends Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state within Europe! This suppression of moderate, authentic, and good-meaning criticism not only deprives Israel of true allies and professional intermediaries for peace-building, but also gives extremists the illusion that the EU suppresses such criticism on Israel’s behest. In fact, Israel does not demand such totalitarian tactics from the European establishment, rather, the E.U. uses Israel as a foil for the Holocaust fetish which remains the most effective justification of the E.U.’s existence as a Western vassal.

The E.U./U.S. uses the Holocaust as propaganda in order to suppress local nationalist sentiment from both the right and the left. You must not advocate for nationalism, but you must also not call into question the legitimacy of the Jewish nation-state! Such manipulative practices encourage the polarization of local politics and fuel the latent anti-Semitism indigenous to Europe. If nothing changes, the extreme-left and extreme right will gain momentum and use their common hatred for Israel as a unifying force in order to maintain national solidarity, to avoid civil war, and to avoid a more-direct confrontation with American interests.

Israel is in serious danger.

For now, the U.S. is reinforcing and maintaining the decaying occupation infrastructure, especially through NATO, for fear of unleashing the fascist devil unchecked and out of sheer neo-liberal, opportunistic avarice. However, the E.U. is not viable in its current form and the U.S. is weakening—we’re living on borrowed time. Israel needs to take a proactive stance against European anti-Semitism and make direct contact with the individual nations before it’s too late. We must make it clear to each nation that we bear no ill will, nor do we support the U.S.’s continued interference in European affairs including the suppression of individual national identities. We must also demonstrate our sincere willingness to make amends with our Palestinian brothers and live with them in peace, without direct American intervention. Europe can be made a strong political ally in our ambitions for developing strong regional stability, and Israel can help restructure the E.U. and strengthen its critical purpose of maintaining peace in Europe, but, if we do not make contact soon, Europe will revert to fascism and Israel will be subjected to intense political forces that spell doom for our foreign interests.

The E.U./U.S. understands its predicament and plays its hand carefully. While Europe unequivocally supports Israel as Jewish state, she also directly supports the totalitarian, corrupt and cruel Palestinian establishment that actively incites Palestinians against Israeli civilians, using Israel’s identity as a  Western “fascist” Jewish state as a way of legitimizing Palestinian anti-colonialist resistance. Such incitement deters Israelis and Palestinians from real peace-building and traps us all in a closed and increasingly dangerous loop.

Put simply, Israel’s ‘self-definition’ as a secular Jewish nation-state is foisted upon her by foreign, colonialist interests. Most Israelis define themselves as Jews, but many also see much value in their cultural identities as Israelis and Hebrews, as well as by their Orthodox religious identity. Any American Oleh can tell you of the large cultural-gap that must be crossed when assimilating into Israeli society! Israel’s failure to evolve and integrate into the Middle-East has as much to do with the E.U./U.S.’s duplicitous foreign policies as with home-grown Israeli and Palestinian racism.

The Israeli establishment has begun to take note. Israel’s Ministry of Defense recently blacklisted six Palestinian NGO’s that were ostensibly working on humanitarian projects in the West Bank in Gaza. However, as the Shin Bet demonstrated to American lawmakers, the NGOs, who had been receiving direct E.U. funding, actively incited against Israelis and maintained many suspicious relations with known terrorist entities. In my opinion, the Israelis have begun to clarify their position on their approach to the E.U. and their influence over Israeli-Palestinian politics. We’re sick and tired of serving as the scapegoat for the E.U./U.S. and we’re sick and tired of being blamed for the world’s ills.

I call on our allies to start asking questions about the the E.U.’s legitimacy. We must forge a joint effort in order to mitigate the increasingly hostile and unstable political situation developing within the E.U. and we may need to circumvent formal diplomatic channels in order to make direct contact with the individual nations’ political establishments. If we don’t act against the internal corruption in the E.U., we’re risking another Holocaust.

About the Author
Originally from Westchester, NY, Aryeh made Aliyah 5 years ago and identifies with the National-Religious community in Israel.
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