OPINIONS

Sat 22 Jun 2024 5:13 pm - Jerusalem Time

Israel's alliance with Europe’s fascists is the greatest threat to Jewish people

David Hearst

The marriage between the Israeli government and European parties who demonise Muslims in the same way the far-right groups nurtured hatred for the Jews is no coincidence

The next generation of political leaders in what we continue, fondly, to call western democracy is clear for all to see.

It has energy, charisma and speaks a language everyone can understand. It connects with an electorate neglected by today’s elite, has strategic patience and plans for the election after the next. 

It's also clear about what it thinks. It believes that "western civilisation" is threatened by Islam, and the "native populations" are threatened by migrants. It subscribes to the clash of civilisations and the great replacement theory.

And it's vocificerally, if not physically, pro-Israel.

I use inverted commas because even in recent history the concept of a "Judeo-Christian" civilisation is nonsense. 


No one in 16th century England nor Germany in the 1930s would have dared talk about a "Judeo-Christian" civilisation for the simple reason that Christians were the main persecutors of Jews.

But truth does not stop good propaganda.

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was interviewed on French television recently, he was asked whether anyone could compare, as he had just done, the allied landing at Normandy to Israel's attack on Gaza.

Netanyahu replied in French: "Our victory is your victory! It's the victory of Judeo-Christian civilisation over barbarism. It is the victory of France! If we win here, you win here," he told TF1.

The fact that a major French commercial channel gave a platform to a man awaiting an arrest warrant for war crimes produced a large demonstration in Paris.

But looks should not deceive.

More than political expediency

Netanyahu’s framing of his assault on Gaza in terms the Crusaders would understand is shared by large sections of the French political spectrum, and everyone, not least President Emanuel Macron, has played in these waters.

It's a short step from criminalising what Macron speciously called "Islamist separatism" to targeting the freedom of religious worship of six million Muslim French citizens itself.

The links contemporary Israel is nurturing with the far right in Europe go deeper than mere political expediency

But no one profits more from the collapse of liberalism under Macron than Jordan Bardella, the poster boy of the far right, and the man tipped one day to become prime minister. "Go for a walk in all the neighbourhoods where I lived in Seine-Saint-Denis," he said in 2021, speaking of "a demographic sea change" which could "alter the face of France in a few years".

It's a grave mistake to cast Israel’s embrace of Bardella, Geert Wilders of the Netherlands' Party for Freedom (PVV), Santiago Abascal, leader of Spain's far-right Vox party, and the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AFD), as mere political opportunism.

True, there was much schadenfreude in Israel at the success of the far right in the recent European parliamentary elections. They saw it as a pay back for Spain, Ireland, Norway and Slovenia recognising a Palestinian state.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz tweeted a meme - in English and Spanish - of Spain’s leaders with egg on their faces, claiming they had been "punished by voters"  for recognising Palestinian statehood.

"The Spanish people have punished @sanchezcastejon and @Yolanda_Diaz_coalition with a resounding defeat in the elections. It turns out that embracing Hamas murderers and rapists doesn't pay off," Katz wrote.

Amichai Chikli, former member of the far-right Yamina formation and now Israel's diaspora affairs minister, crowed at the resignation of Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

De Croo had gone to Rafah last November before the first hostage release and had been almost a lone voice in Europe in denouncing the slaughter of civilians in Gaza. "Supporting terror doesn't resonate with the Belgian people," Chikli said.

That said, the links contemporary Israel is nurturing with the far right in Europe go deeper than mere political expediency. It's more than just "myopic rejoicing" as one Haaretz columnist put it. 

Unholy alliance

An alliance with European political parties who demonise Muslims in the same way the far-right groups nurtured hatred for the Jews has become more than an act of flirtation. It has quickly been cemented into a much more extensive alliance, in deed as well as word.

Anyone who thinks these expressions of support by the far right for Israel are merely rhetorical should look at what is happening.

Wilders’s ally Gideon (Gidi) Markuszower had his candidacy to become the Netherlands' new migration and asylum minister revoked, after concerns about the connections of the Israeli-born man with Mossad were flagged by the Dutch Intelligence service (AIVD).

The prospect of a far-right government is being seen as a golden opportunity by Israel’s security services to place plants into the highest levels of government. But most of the time it does not even need them. 

Serbia’s arms exports to Israel have spiralled since the Gaza offensive began. Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and Haaretz identified six Israeli military flights from Belgrade to Beersheba since October last year, carrying 15.7m euros (almost $17m) worth of arms.

Serbian President Aleksandr Vucic said in February that he and Netanyahu had discussed a "further advancement of bilateral relations" for which the Israeli premier "expressed my gratitude for his unwavering support both in word and deed". 

Vucic’s Serbian nationalism is unravelling a shaky peace in the Balkans. Recently, he appeared alongside the leader of the Serb-led entity within Bosnia-Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, to call for the unity of ethnic Serbs throughout the region during a rally in Belgrade.

Dodik claimed that Republika Srpska, the Serb-led entity, was committed to the Dayton accords but added ominously that this entity will soon have to seek Serbia's support to "resolve its status".

This is an implicit threat to the Dayton accords which formed a Bosnian state consisting of two entities - a Bosniak-Croat federation and Republika Srpska - held together by string, and a weak central government.

"It is impossible to live with those who so treacherously and maliciously, falsely, and secretly tried to impose genocide as a permanent feature of this nation, which it is not," Dodik said. 

Dodic is referring to the massacre that took place at Srebrenica in 1995, after the United Nations approved a resolution to establish an International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the 1995 Genocide in Srebrenica, thus establishing an annual day of commemoration for the massacre.

Dodic continues to deny any such genocide of 8000 Bosniak Muslims, men and boys took place.Read More »

It is no coincidence that the Jerusalem Post gave this particular holocaust denier a large amount of space in an uncritical if not to say fawning interview.

Dodic said about Srebrenica: "It cannot be called genocide. Authoritative experts who have devoted their entire professional lives to the study of genocide have determined that it was not genocide. All those with authority on the matter say that it was not genocide. I trust these people more than the politicians, who decided it was a genocide."

This, of course, is music to the ears of his Jerusalem Post interviewer who drew parallels between the non-genocide of Srebrenica to the non-genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, or as the interviewer referred to them "so-called Palestinians".

Dodic said: "They don’t like me in the West, because I speak my mind directly. But if we look back at history, there has never been a peaceful coexistence between Palestinians and Jews, in the same way that coexistence is not possible here, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, between Muslims and Serbs.”

The marriage between an Israeli government which has the express intention of forcing as many Palestinians out of the territories it occupies, and European far-right extremists who want to expel as many Muslims as they can out of Europe, is no coincidence.

We had already seen more than one fig leaf falling from the image of Israel as a democratic state under siege from barbaric forces. As Israel’s war on Gaza enters its ninth month, no pretence at all is being made to talk the language of democracy.

Contagious fascism

The recent anniversary of an infamous event at the very start of the Second World War also proved to be revealing.

It was one day in July 1939 when the St Louis, a ship that set sail for Cuba with over 900 Jewish refugees was rebuffed by the US and Canada. When the ship had to return to Europe, Adolf Hitler ranted on the radio that it was not only the Nazis who hated Jews. "See the whole world hates the Jews," the Nazi dictator said.

No greater threat to the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East is posed than by the words and deeds of Israel’s leaders today

This is a common sentiment on the Israeli talk shows and in social media about the Palestinians in Israel today.

The problem with forcing them from their homes in Gaza and the Occupied West Bank, the speaker's muse, is that "no-one else wants them either".

Hitler is becoming quite a role model for Israel these days. Moshe Feiglin, a former Likud MK, invoked him when he said last week on a television panel: "As Hitler said, 'I cannot live if one Jew is left'. We can't live here if one 'Islamo-Nazi' remains in Gaza."

This is fascism pure and simple and it is increasingly becoming common currency in the Israeli mainstream media. All the old taboos have disappeared. It is not just the extreme right Itamar Ben Gvir screaming: “For victory we need to encourage emigration from Gaza”.

That is why Europe's fascists are so readily accepted as the soulmates of Israel's fascists.

This is not about history. It's about Israel today. It matters not how many millions of Jews were the victims of fascism in Europe. It matters not that true anti-semites are their bedfellows today. 

What matters is they have found common cause in a common enemy. For the European fascist far- right, Israel has become a role model of how to deal with an insurgent Muslim minority.

UK elections 2024: The dangerous return of Tommy Robinson and the far right

Read More »

For Israel, however, there are distinct perils in following this path. Because they are not in a land where Muslims are a minority.

They are not even the majority in their own state and they are in a region where they are the minority. Furthermore, the "Jewish State" is not on the periphery of the Muslim world. It is right in the centre of it.

This is not 1948 all over again, at least not for the Palestinians.

If Israel attempts a major act of ethnic cleansing in the West Bank, Jordan will erupt and become the base of an active resistance movement along Israel’s longest land border. Israel will have no quiet borders ever again.

If an apartheid, supremacist Jewish state adopts fascism as its ideology in an attempt to find the final solution to its conflict with Palestinians, it will face an existential moment sooner than it thinks. 

No greater threat to the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East is posed than by the words and deeds of Israel’s leaders today. 

And no greater threat to Jews around the world exists now, as in the 1930s, from fascists who find common cause with Israel, coming back to power in Europe once again.

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Israel's alliance with Europe’s fascists is the greatest threat to Jewish people

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