Devilish Pact With Europe’s Right Wing

Israeli Nationalists Form Common Cause With Anti-Islamists

Anti-Muslim Alliance: European far-right groups are targeting growing Muslim populations. They are finding surprising allies on Israel’s right wing.
getty images
Anti-Muslim Alliance: European far-right groups are targeting growing Muslim populations. They are finding surprising allies on Israel’s right wing.

By Liam Hoare

Published December 16, 2011, issue of December 23, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Economic upheaval and strife in Europe have historically begat fierce nationalism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. Faced with a serious debt crisis, severe budget cuts, grim austerity, rising unemployment and creeping inflation, the current depression is no exception.

Since the fall of 2008, reported incidents of anti-Semitism have risen across the continent. In Britain, a record number of anti-Jewish crimes was noted in 2009. This year in the Netherlands, the number of Jews who reported being verbally harassed, and even physically attacked, climbed. More recently, a restored Jewish cemetery in the Republic of Kosovo was desecrated with Nazi grafitti.

What is fundamentally different about Europe’s current condition, however, is that anti-Semitism has been largely superseded in the organized far-right by suspicion at best, and hatred at worst, of the continent’s growing Muslim community. As Australian writer Antony Loewenstein puts it: “Yesterday’s anti-Semites have reformed themselves as today’s crusading heroes against an unstoppable Muslim birth rate on a continent that now sees Islam as an intolerant and ghettoized religion.”

More curious still is that via this Islamophobia (for lack of a better term), Europe’s extremist parties have entered into a disturbing marriage of convenience with sections of the Israeli right. In December 2010, politicians including Heinz-Christian Strache of Austria’s Freiheitliche Partei and Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Belang in Flemish Belgium visited Israel and signed the Jerusalem Declaration, “guaranteeing Israel’s right to defend itself against terror.” On a separate occasion, Members of Knesset Aryeh Eldad (National Union) and Ayoob Kara (Likud) met with members of a Russian neo-Nazi delegation that also toured Yad Vashem.

The English Defense League — not a political party but, rather, a thuggish and violent mob made up of the same sort of white working-class males who formed the rank-and-file of Mosley’s Blackshirts — has described the bond between themselves and Israel in the following terms: “In many ways there are parallels to be drawn between the radicalization that has infected the Palestinians and their supporters and the radicalization that continues to breed in British mosques. In this way at least, the people of England and the people of Israel have a great deal in common.”

Don’t be fooled. In the discourse of the European right, “extremism” and “radicalism” with regard to Islam are terms used to couch deeper concerns and prejudices, so as to broaden the movement’s appeal. Overtures to the existential security of Israel as a bulwark in the Middle East are in one respect an extension of this desire for wider acceptance and a detoxification of the far right brand.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.