The anti-Jewish sentiments examined in the last post were depressing, particularly as the Oslo study showed that in Germany, Far-right anti-Semitism was worse than Far-right anti-Semitism in the other countries surveyed. However, they were empirical examples and didn’t give much detail about the ideas behind the feelings expressed and actions taken. To examine the ideas behind the numbers, let’s first look at Right-wing anti-Semitism.
Time passes, memories fade, and sins that were never meant to be repeated lose their power to shock, humble and shame. This is, as Jeffrey Goldberg argues in the Atlantic, increasingly the case among younger generations in Europe. As such, it is, unfortunately, the case that more members of younger generations are attracted to Far-right ideology and its attendant anti-Semitism than before. This phenomenon can be seen with the growth of groups like Generation Identitaire in western Europe – the youth branch of the Bloc Identitaire movement – the members of which call themselves Identitarians, positioning themselves as defenders of native European populations and culture.
Modern Right-wing anti-Semitism is arguably the easiest to spot, and resembles the old anti-Semitism in many ways, with new twists courtesy of the internet, which has enabled conglomerations like the American Alt-Right to reach a wider audience and to link up with allies in Europe. As the ADL’s Marylin Mayo told the Jerusalem Post before the 2016 American election, “a good deal of the people who are talking about the ideology of white identity, white culture, focus on Jews as part of a problem for them.” Jews are seen as the insidious ‘other’, damaging to the essence of the nation, identified as it often is in Europe with a particular ethnic or racial group. On the European Far-right Jews are still seen as part of a sinister global conspiracy, pulling the levers of governmental and transnational institutional policy and international finance, making world leaders dance on their puppet strings and economies rise and fall on their whims. This time, in a variation of the ‘white genocide’ conspiracy theory, the idea is that ‘Globalists’ (Jews) are conspiring to deliberately import the populations of the Global South into Europe as part of the ‘Globalist’ (Jewish) agenda, to purposely wipe out white, Christian Europe through population replacement.
Common culprits who represent the wider conspiracy are George Soros, accused of being one of the main villains driving the ‘Great Replacement’, as well as Barbara Lerner Specter, a video of whom is widely circled among the Far-right as proof that the Jews are behind the mass immigration into Europe – ignoring the fact that Jews are often the most affected by this immigration. But this inconvenient fact doesn’t deter those in the grip of the conspiratorial mindset of those radicalized by Far-right ideology and peers, those who, as Andrew Marantz describes in the New Yorker, fall “into a particularly dark rabbit hole, where some of the most disturbing and discredited ideas in modern history [are] repackaged as the solution to twenty-first-century malaise.” As unpleasant as these ideas are, it is necessary to understand what they are in order to counter them.
As Peter R. Neumann argues in his book Radicalized: New Jihadists and the Threat to the West, Right-wing extremism is a constant feature of David Rapoport’s Four Waves of Terrorism, and movements often arise in response to what they perceive as threats to the rightly ordered society. It could be argued that much of the rise of the European Far-right and populist right is partly attributable to the policies of the governments of the last few decades, particularly where it comes to the erosion of the sovereignty of the Western nation-state alongside the issues of mass immigration and an emphasis on divisive identity politics rather than integration and solidarity. The policies of these politicians, many of them on the Left, have been pushed with little thought for the wider consequences on public services and infrastructure, as well as the social ramifications of the increase in cultural, ethnic or religious tribalism. The issues relating to mass immigration have been bubbling away for a long time, and the decision of Angela Merkel in 2015 to throw open the doors to anyone who could get to Europe was a massive mistake and gave the Far-right narrative on immigration and multiculturalism a huge boost. The ramifications of the decision are still being felt, ably described in Douglas Murray’s book The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam. Dissent was widely clamped down on, feeding into the resentments of many who were not Far-right but who had legitimate concerns.
The populist upsurge and increasing tribalism across Europe is the result and could have been avoided if the centre and the Left had listened and acted sensibly on those concerns, rather than ignoring or denigrating those who raised quite legitimate objections. This is precisely the point Reihan Salam makes in Melting Pot or Civil War? : A Son of Immigrants Makes the Case Against Open Borders, where he argues that unlimited immigration without the attendant integration leads to increasing cultural fracture, tribalism and conflict. The danger now is that because of the consequences of the Left’s actions, Europe’s publics risk running fast and hard to the toxic end of the Right-wing. In many countries they have, some to a greater extent than in others.
The extreme nature of the populist parties across Europe varies, with some more radical than others. The AfD in Germany contains extreme elements, while the Austrian Freedom Party has an extremely dark past. Other political parties like Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary are legitimately neo-Nazi in their ideological orientation. Marine Le Pen’s Front National still bears the stain of her father’s virulent anti-Semitism, despite her efforts to clean up the party’s image for the election last year, and the Sweden Democrats have a murky past.
This is the irony of the Left’s attempts to prevent the rise of the Right across Europe through the dilution of the nation-state and culture through institutions like the EU. They are now facing a backlash in the shape of forces they were trying to head off in the first place, and because of the promiscuous use of the words ‘fascist’ and ‘Nazi’ to describe anyone they disagree with, there is now a risk that many will ignore them when a real fascist or Nazi comes along; as Mark Steyn has said, “when everyone’s Hitler, no-one’s Hitler”. As far as the nation-state is concerned, while it is important to recognise the risks of unquestioning nationalism, without the solidarity and communal affection across immutable identities that the nation-state can encourage, populations instead fragment into tribes based on race, ethnicity and religion, as they are now doing. The nation-state is arguably the antidote to this.
While Right-wing anti-Semitism is not as big a component of the triple-threat as on the Left or from Islamism, it is still an issue facing Europe’s Jewish population today, particularly in Eastern Europe, and increasingly in Western Europe as well. The Left is partly responsible for the conditions that allowed this to happen. Those who stand to lose most from this situation are Jews, caught in a vice between each opposing group as they struggle for power for their side.