The doors to modern left-wing anti-Semitism in Europe were opened long ago by the secular hero of the French Enlightenment, Voltaire, who famously said about the Jews: “You have surpassed all nations in impertinent fables, in bad conduct and in barbarism. You deserve to be punished, for this is your destiny.’’
Voltaire’s longstanding Jew-hatred has echoed for generations, from the murderous German National Socialists (Nazis) to the deeply anti-Israel current British Labor leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Much of European academia offers a consistent hostility to Jews, Judaism and the State of Israel as a symbol of all they detest: religiosity, capitalism, nationalism and pro-Americanism.
After Israel’s survival and success in the Six-Day War of 1967, many on the Euro-left turned hostile to the Jewish state, psychologically turning David into Goliath. Moreover, the rise of Arab terror, as with the Munich Olympic massacre in 1972, led Europe to cut a deal with the Palestinians to “buy off” terrorism by siding against Israel.
Today, European governments can no longer ignore Islamic terrorism, but traditional European political parties still pander to large voting blocs of Muslim immigrants. Political ideology plus practical politics has made Israel, not Islamic jihad and its war against the Christian West, enemy No. 1 for many European elites.
Much of European academia offers a consistent hostility to Jews.
Attacks on synagogues and delis, with Jews beaten and fearful to wear kippot in public, has sent thousands of French Jews to Israel on aliyah. Some English Jews have now abandoned leftist politics for conservative choices far friendlier to Israel.
But what about the rising European right? Is this reactionary force good or bad for the Jews?
The most prominent conservative success in Europe is the Brexit movement advocated by the United Kingdom Independence Party, which partially inspired Trumpism in the U.S. This model appears most sanguine.
Ten or more other European rightist parties have emerged, with varying degrees of electoral success and varying attitudes to Jews.
Geert Wilder’s PVV in Holland is pro-American and pro-Israel and hostile to unassimilating Muslim immigration. He is considered a significant generational leader.
Germany’s AFD party is essentially anti-Islamic immigration and detests the special rights and benefits of Muslims infiltrating the country. “Islam is not for Germany” is its slogan, seeking attention for victims of sexual assault. The party has struggled to attract much support in a nation unwelcoming of the German far-right.
France’s Front National has improved its standing, after Marine Le Pen replaced her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and has developed a mainstream critique of both the European Union and unbridled Islamic immigration.
The Danish People’s Party is a combination of right-wing on immigration and left-wing on economics. Austria’s FPO and Italy’s Lega Nord are deeply anti-Muslim immigration, while The Finns are a fast-growing Eurosceptic party which promotes nationalism and anti-globalism in Finland.
Jobbik, Hungary’s extremist party, is unsympathetic to Jews. “The Movement for a Better Hungary” features a younger leadership seeking to improve its image as a “people’s party.” There also are the Swedish Democrats and Greece’s Golden Dawn.
Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, is unsurprised by this inevitable trend against longstanding consensus parties which failed to invite fair and robust public discussion about the deeply negative consequences of massive Islamic migration into Western countries.
Overcoming controversial roots or leadership, rightist parties may gain electoral strength if they drop nativism to focus on legitimate concerns about EU elitism and economic statism. By opposing radical Islamists, both homegrown and imported, who are engineering a rapid collapse of traditional European civilization, some European rightists may even offer legitimate support for Jewish security in Europe.
Larry Greenfield is a fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship & Political Philosophy.