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But mutual cooperation between the Israeli and European fringes can perhaps best be attributed to a shared obsession with blood, soil and demography, as well as an opposition to multiculturalism and a desire to fashion mono-ethnic and mono-religious states.
The number of Muslims in Europe has grown, from 29.6 million in 1990 to 44.1 million in 2010. Muslims now represent 10% of the overall population in France. The fear, as expressed here by the British National Party (BNP), is that because the Muslim world’s “excess population” is “currently colonizing” the continent, the “indigenous British people will become an ethnic minority in [their] own country well within 60 years — and most likely sooner.”
Rightist factions thus demonize Muslim immigrants as the inculcators of any national maladies. The BNP again blame immigration for “higher crime rates, demand for more housing, longer hospital waiting lists, lower educational standards, and higher unemployment.”
At a time when Jews are diminishing as a total share of Israel’s wider population, Avigdor Lieberman rails against a two-state solution that calls for “a Palestinian territory with no Jewish population and a Jewish state with a minority group comprising over 20% of the general population,” the Arabs. His party, Yisrael Beiteinu, has described Israeli Arabs as a fifth column “likely to serve as terrorist agents on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.”
The religious right in Israel also has courted the European fringe, with MK Nissam Ze’ev (Shas) arguing that, “At the end of the day, what’s important is their attitude, the fact they really love Israel.”
On the one hand, it is tempting to argue that such parties as Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu are flirting with the far right as a facet of their strategy to garner any friends it can, at a time when the policies of Netanyahu’s government are alienating allies across Europe. This would certainly explain the recent photo op of Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, with Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s Front National. Given Le Pen’s father’s propensity for Holocaust minimalization, the grubby axiom “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” has rarely been more apt.
Speaking in general terms, this might be a fair assessment, but it also is evident that for certain members of the Knesset, something altogether more sinister is at work. These representatives have entered into a Faustian pact with the dregs of Europe in hopes of eliciting support for a Jewish state cleansed of its Muslim population; and for those on the religious right, for a state grounded in an extreme form of Orthodox Judaism. It is a deal out of which no good can possibly come.
Liam Hoare is a freelance writer and graduate student at University College London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies.