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An Unlikely Union: Israel And The European Far Right

Israel has been engaging far-right groups and parties across Europe, ignoring their anti-Semitism.
 http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/union-israel-european-180716085952930.html

An unlikely union: Israel and the European far right

Israel has been engaging far-right groups and parties across Europe, ignoring their anti-Semitism.

by Ramzy Baroud & Romana Rubeo
17 Jul 2018

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Israel's Netanyahu had paid a visit to Hungary in 2017, right in the middle of a political storm caused by the Hungarian President Viktor Orban's remarks that were deemed anti-Semitic [Reuters]
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In November 2017, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) hosted a gala dinner in New York City honouring Stephen Bannon, US President Donald Trump's then-chief strategist.

That Bannon and his media outlet Breitbart News were, and still are, seen by many as anti-Semitic was of no consequence to Zionist leaders from the US and Israel, who were in attendance.

There were, however, some critical voices from within the Jewish community who denounced the ZOA for its decision to invite Bannon. One of them was former Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Bret Stephens, who dedicated a column in the New York Times on the issue.

"Just as there are anti-Zionist Jews, there are also anti-Semitic Zionists," Stephens wrote. He then went on to condemn Bannon's indirect link to neo-Nazi Richard Spencer who, according to Stephens, advocates a "factitious theory that Israel is the sort of ethno-nationalist state he'd like to see America become."

While Stephens was right to be outraged about the gala dinner, he is wrong to claim that Israel is not an ethnonationalist state.

Just recently, the Israeli government endorsed the Nation-State Bill, which among many racist provisions, calls for the establishment of Jewish-only towns. This bill alone should be enough to settle the silly debate on whether Israel can be both a Jewish nation-state and a democracy.

But relations between Israel and its lobby groups and racist, neo-Nazi and fascist organisations go way deeper than a one-off gala dinner with Steve Bannon. In fact, in Europe, Israel is actively pursuing alliances with far-right groups and parties as a state policy.
Embracing the far right from Italy to Ukraine

"Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, President [Reuven] Rivlin, his predecessor, President [Shimon] Peres, and the former Knesset Speaker all refused to meet members of extreme European right-wing parties and called on all Israeli parties to refrain from such meetings," reported the Jewish American newspaper Forward last March.

But members of the Likud partyhaven't followed suit. During the Ariel Sharon government in the early 2000s, Italian post-fascist Gianfranco Fini paid a visit to Israel.

At that time Fini, the leader of the Movimento Sociale Italiano (Italian Social Movement), the ideological successor of the anti-Semitic Fascist Party, was trying to rebrand his movement.

He started by changing the name to the "National Alliance" and then, to solidify its new image, he embarked on a trip to Israel, in the company of Amos Luzzatto, the head of the Italian Jewish community.

Today, the National Alliance is long gone, as it was dismantled under the pressure of its own corruption and multiple scandals. However, the constituency that brought the National Alliance to prominence mobilised in full force in this year's elections in Italy and voted for the far-right League Party under the leadership of the current Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

Unsurprisingly, Salvini too went through the same political baptism by Israel as Fini did. In March 2016, he paid a visit to Tel Aviv to launch his political career.

"Israel embodies the perfect balance of different realities, while ensuring law and order. It surely is a role model for security and anti-terrorism policies," he said during his trip.

At the Karim Abu Salem crossing between Israel and Gaza, Salvini condemned the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, while announcing the League's "readiness to be part of the government of Italy".

To the north of Italy, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has also registered remarkable electoral success. And it, too, is establishing solid ties with Israel, despite its racist views.

"[T]he party derided for anti-Semitic, xenophobic views redolent of the Nazis is also staunchly supportive of Israel," reported the Times of Israel. "[It is] one of a number of right-wing populist parties in Europe that have tried to make common cause with Israel's tough stance toward terror and self-styled position as a forward bulwark against Islamic extremism."

Last April, the anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic AfD, enthusiastically launched a campaign pushing for the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, despite PM Angela Merkel's opposition to it.

Israel has also reached out to Hungarian PM Viktor Orban who for the past few years has been leading a vicious political campaign against the Jewish Hungarian American financier, George Soros.

Accusations of anti-Semitism against Orban and his party did not deter PM Benjamin Netanyahu from visiting him in Budapest in July last year.

But the move that perhaps best illustrates where Israel is headed in its support for the far right in the West is its decision to arm the Azov battalion, a neo-Nazi paramilitary organisation in Ukraine.

Human rights activists recently petitioned the High Court of Justice in Israel to stop the government from selling weapons to such groups after their appeal to the Israeli defence ministry produced no response.
Why is Israel allying with the far right?

Indeed, Israel's embrace of far-right movements is now the defining Israeli attitude towards European politics, in general.

This Israeli strategy, of course, has its own logic. During his July 2017 visit to Budapest, Netanyahu met leaders from the so-called "Visegrad Group", which includes Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

There, he hoped to find new allies that he can use to exert pressure on the rest of the EU. In an audio recording obtained by Reuters, Netanyahu derided "Old Europe" for daring to criticise Israel's dismal human rights record, illegal settlement policies and military occupation. "I think Europe has to decide whether it wants to live and thrive or it wants to shrivel and disappear," he said.

Netanyahu needs new ways to pressure Europe because pro-Palestinian policies and attitudes are slowly but steadily entering mainstream politics, as grassroots groups are becoming increasingly outraged by Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

Israel's fear of Europe abandoning its Zionist cause could be seen in recent Israeli official reactions.

On July 12, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for the "immediate" closure of his country's embassy in Dublin, after the upper house of the Irish parliament voted in favour of a bill that could boycott Israeli products manufactured in illegal Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Around the same time, EU Ambassador in Tel Aviv Emanuele Giaufret condemned the Nation-State Bill saying, "The law stinks of racism, and it discriminates against various groups, particularly Arabs." The Israeli government responded by accusing the EU of interfering in its "internal affairs".

The Israeli government seems intent on weakening Europe by investing in existing divisions and offering political validation to groups that, until recently, were on the political fringes.

It hopes that a divided Europe will be more easily controlled and coaxed back into Israel's loyalty camp.

It remains to be seen whether Israel's embrace of far-right, neo-Nazi and fascist Europe will pay off, the way its government hopes for, or whether it would backfire exposing it for what it truly is: an ethnonationalist state with no interest in true democracy and equality.

homepage: homepage: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/union-israel-european-180716085952930.html


European anti-Semites and Israel boosters unite on anti-Muslim axis 27.Oct.2018 14:04

Slavoj Zizek

There's a dangerous and popular fashion in Europe to be antisemitic and pro-Zionist at the same time

The European identity is under assault by enemies from within

Slavoj Zizek
Friday 27 October 2017 10:00

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There have been numerous protests against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban after his announcements about immigration ( EPA )
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On 24 October 2017, Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary, was reported to have called Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) "a zone without migrants". He claimed this at the celebration of the anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution, which began on 23 October 1956.

According to him, the countries of CEE have succeeded in rebuffing illegal migration and it is the only zone on the European continent that is free from migrants.

"The Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Romanians and Hungarians should unite in this process," Orban claimed. He is sure that every upcoming election in Europe will show citizens reflecting his views.

"We want a safe, fair, Christian and free Europe," he concluded, and warned: "We should never underestimate the power of the dark side," referencing Star Wars as he referred to the plots of those apparently behind the "migrant invasion", adding that they "have no solid structure but extensive networks".

Any association between Orban's "zones without migrants" and the old Nazi striving to create "zones without Jews" is, of course, purely contiguous.
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In the antisemitic imagination, the "Jew" is the invisible master who secretly pulls the strings, which is why Muslim immigrants are not today's Jews - they are all too visible, not invisible. They are clearly not integrated into our societies, and nobody claims they secretly pull the strings - if one sees in their "invasion of Europe" a secret plot, then Jews have to be behind it.
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This was the case in a text that recently appeared in one of the main Slovene right-wing weekly journals where we could read: "George Soros is one of the most depraved and dangerous people of our time," responsible for "the invasion of the negroid and semitic hordes and thereby for the twilight of the EU ... he is a deadly enemy of the Western civilisation, nation state and white, European man". His goal is to build a "rainbow coalition composed of social marginals like faggots, feminists, Muslims and work-hating cultural Marxists" which would then perform "a deconstruction of the nation-state, and transform the EU into a multicultural dystopia of the United States of Europe".

This disgusting fantasy brings together antisemitism and Islamophobia and confronts us with the paradox of Zionist antisemitism. Remember Anders Breivik, the Norwegian anti-immigrant mass murderer: he was antisemitic, but pro-Israel, since the State of Israel is the first defence line against the Muslim expansion - he even wants to see the Jerusalem Temple rebuilt.

His view is that Jews are OK as long as there aren't too many of them - or, as he wrote in his "manifesto": "There is no Jewish problem in Western Europe (with the exception of the UK and France) as we only have one million in Western Europe, whereas 800,000 out of these one million live in France and the UK.

"The US on the other hand, with more than six million Jews (600 per cent more than Europe) actually has a considerable Jewish problem."
'Shame on you Orbαn' protest hits Budapest

Breivik thus realises the ultimate paradox of a Zionist antisemite - and we find traces of this weird stance more often than one would expect, from the US alt-right to Orban himself.

Soon after he also attacked Soros in a speech, Orban was visited by Netanyahu, and they soon found a common language: attacking Soros is OK if you support Israel. Netanyahu's pact with Zionist antisemites is one of the lowest and saddest moments of his career.

It is significant that Trump's first foreign trip was to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel - if we combine this with his triumphant reception of el-Sissi in the White House, we can see how a new Middle East "axis of evil" is taking form with full US support: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt.

The latest brutal pressure on Qatar was the first big act of this axis, probably a punishment for the positive role of Al Jazeera in the Arab Spring. And, in a similar way, the group of countries enumerated by Orban and which resist accepting refugees forms another new "axis of evil": Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, the Baltic countries - and now one has to add even Austria.

The most worrying aspect here is the reluctance of Europe to take a clear stand regarding this axis: either to allow its member states to adopt their own politics with regard to refugees, or to adopt efficient measures against those who break the common rules.

Orban, who was only a couple of years ago treated like a pariah, is now not only tolerated but more and more followed as a model. And this is a very dangerous sign for Europe.

The fact that Orban delivered his speech at the celebration of the anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution resonates with unintended ironies. One of the pathetic moments of the 1956 uprising occurred when the Soviet army was closing in on the rebels who send a desperate message to Vienna: "We are defending the West here."

Now, after communism's collapse, the Christian-conservative government paints as its main enemy Western multicultural consumerist liberal democracy for which today's Western Europe stands, and calls for a new more organic communitarian order to replace the "turbulent" liberal democracy of the last two decades.
Slovakia: EU considers personal leadership dangerous - Orban

Orban already expressed his sympathies with "capitalism with Asian values", so if European pressure on Orban continues, we can easily imagine him sending the message to the East: "We are defending Asia here!"

What is at stake in this conflict is nothing less than the soul of Europe, the two opposed sides of European identity. On the one side, it is the Enlightenment legacy of universal freedom and emancipation; on the other side, it is the politics of particularism, of protecting one's identity.

If we remain faithful to the Enlightenment legacy, we have to conclude that the true threat to Europe is precisely its "defenders" who spread xenophobia and fear.

The space for these scaremongerers was opened by the economic and political compromises of the European centres of power - populists are filling up the void opened up by European neoliberal technocracy, so that only a new leftist vision can save Europe from its external and especially internal enemies.

In his Notes Towards a Definition of Culture, TS Eliot remarked that there are moments when the only choice is the one between heresy and non-belief, when the only way to keep a religion alive is to perform a sectarian split from its main corpse. This is what has to be done today if we want to keep the idea of Europe alive.


Jolted by populist surge, European Jews raise new fears of an old threat 27.Oct.2018 14:14

Raoul Wootliff

Community leaders from across Continent sound alarm on 'old anti-Semitism' as Trump tremors shake both sides of Atlantic

By Raoul Wootliff 24 January 2017, 2:30 pm

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(L-R) Frauke Petry of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), French National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen, Matteo Salvini of Italy's xenophobic Northern League and Geert Wilders of the Dutch far-right Freedom Party arrive for a meeting on January 21, 2017 in Koblenz, Germany. (AFP Photo/Roberto Pfeil)
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BRUSSELS — The agenda for the conference of European Jewish leaders in Brussels this week was supposed to address anti-Zionism as the new anti-Semitism. But attendees had a hard time focusing on a new threat when a more classical form of anti-Semitism, once thought mostly purged from the Continent, is once again rattling communities across Europe.

Buffeted by resurgent nationalists, anti-Israel movements and terror, Jewish leaders in Belgium Monday chose to focus on the one issue that seems to be overshadowing the others at the moment and raise alarms of fresh anti-Semitic threats.

As the European Jewish Association's annual Jewish Leaders Conference met, many of the discussions quickly turned into an opportunity to voice fears of the "old anti-Semitism" and the rise of far-right parties in Europe, as well as Donald Trump's entry into the White House, which has shaken many on both sides of the Atlantic.

"In addition to the threats to Jewish communities from radical Islam, we see a very real threat from populist movements across Europe," Rabbi Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, told delegates in his opening remarks to the conference.

"In addition to the threats to Jewish communities from radical Islam, we see a very real threat from populist movements across Europe," Rabbi Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, told delegates in his opening remarks to the conference.

Emboldened by Britain's vote to leave the EU and Trump's US election win, European far-right parties are hoping to capitalize on rising resentment against the establishment and alarm over migration to shake up the political landscape on the continent. Nationalist movements in the Netherlands, France, Austria and Germany have all gained ground, with many predicting 2017 could see key election victories for the populist right.

Representatives from Eurpean Jewish Communities at the European Jewish Association's annual Jewish Leaders Conference in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2017. (European Jewish Association)

Margolin told The Times of Israel that the rise of the right presents both a short- and long-term challenge to Jewish communities.

"There is no question that we see so many of these anti-Semitic attacks coming not just from radical Islam but from typical European nationalism," he said.

'New problems are arising. Anti-Semitism is appearing more and more'

"In the long term it's even more worrying because we see they are gaining power in all of Europe and we are very concerned about what is going to be 15 years from now: Will they be a majority? Will they control power in many European countries? And will we, God forbid, experience again the rise of an anti-Semitic government in Europe?"

Catching cold

During a session titled "Enhancing security of the Jewish communities in Europe 2017," Philippe Markiewicz, chairman of the Consistoire of Belgium, an umbrella group of Jewish organizations in the country, said he feared that the Continent's old demons were starting to raise their heads again.

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Protesters of the "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident" (PEGIDA) demonstrate in Dresden, eastern Germany, on December 22, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Kay Nietfield)
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"After a long history of bad times, today, for the last 72 years, we are living in peace," he said. "But new problems are arising. Anti-Semitism is appearing more and more."

Markiewicz said that European democracy alone was not enough to stem the rise of the far right. "Let's not forget," he warned ominously, "Hitler was elected democratically."

While Markiewicz was referring to the European historical experience, the allusion to America of the past few months wasn't lost on the audience.

Trump, who has voiced statements against various ethnic and religious groups, has been criticized for failing to distance himself from far-right or neo-Nazi groups that have rallied behind him. Meanwhile, his pick of Steve Bannon as chief strategist has irked many in the US Jewish community due to Bannon's embrace of the racist-infused "alt-right" movement while at the helm of the Breitbart news website.

Utilizing an old idiom to illustrate the spread of all types of anti-Semitism, Alex Benjamin, director of the EJA's Europe-Israel Public Affairs lobby group, told the conference, "When American sneezes, Europe catches a cold."

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US President Donald Trump salutes the crowd after the swearing-in ceremony as 45th President of the USA in front of the Capitol in Washington on January 20, 2017. (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary)
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Speaking on behalf of the US State Department — albeit representing an initiative set up under former secretary of state John Kerry that is rumored to be bound for the chopping block under the Trump administration — Holly Hufnagle of the Office of Religion and Global Affairs, said the United States is carefully monitoring the rise of the far-right in both Europe and on its home soil.

"The United States is not immune to anti-Semitism," she said, citing recent reports that found most religiously motivated hate crimes in the US were directed at Jews and that such incidents have seen a nine percent rise in the past year alone. Some have credited the bump to the divisive election campaign that saw the emergence of the "alt-right."

"The increase in anti-Semitic attacks we have witnessed over the past few months is of serious concern," said Hufnagle, who served as an adviser to Ira Forman, Kerry's special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism. "We are aware that most anti-Semitic attacks in the US, as in Europe, reportedly still come from far-right, white-nationalist and neo-Nazi groups."
Pro-Israel anti-Semites

According to Hufnagle, those parties, which typically campaign on ethno-nationalist, anti-migrant and anti-Muslim platforms, are attempting to whitewash their anti-Semitism with purported newfound support for Israel.

"We fear that these extreme right-wing parties are using their anti-Muslim platforms to gain Jewish support," she said, "and for a number of Jewish communities in Europe, this is a pressing question."

'We fear that these extreme right-wing parties are using their anti-Muslim platforms to gain Jewish support'

Benjamin, the EJA's Europe-Israel Public Affairs director, told The Times of Israel that the EIPA is often contacted by far-right parties such as Geert Wilders' Dutch Freedom Party in their attempts to "cleanse themselves of the image of anti-Semitism" by joining pro-Israel forums or events. "We will not allow them to do that," he said.

Hufnagle and other speakers at the conference warned that accepting such parties based on their apparent pro-Israel positions could rationalize or even normalize the far right.

Katharina von Schnurbein, the EU's coordinator on tackling anti-Semitism, said, "The very cautious reaction of the Jewish community to the far right is correct, because at some point the veil falls."

Holly Huffnagle, from the US State Department Office of Religion and Global Affairs, speaking at the European Jewish Association's annual Jewish Leaders Conference in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2017. (European Jewish Association)
Holly Huffnagle, from the US State Department Office of Religion and Global Affairs, speaking at the European Jewish Association's annual Jewish Leaders Conference in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2017. (European Jewish Association)

In December, Israel's Foreign Ministry put out a directive advising ministers against meeting a member of a Swedish far-right party visiting the country as part of a delegation of European and US lawmakers.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely canceled meetings with the Jerusalem Leaders Summit, a gathering of conservative parliamentarians, due to the participation of Kristina Winberg, a member of the European Parliament for the Sweden Democrats.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said the decision to exclude Winberg was made due to her party's far-right and ultra-nationalist positions.

In protest over Israel's decision to exclude Winberg from the briefing with Hotovely, the entire delegation, which notably included a senior member of Trump's transition team, decided to boycott the meeting.

Last month, in a letter sent to Vienna's Jewish Community and given to The Times of Israel by the Israeli president's office, Reuven Rivlin said he will "never condone" meetings between representatives of Israel and "European parties of the far right that are tainted with a history of anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial... or the promotion of racial hatred or intolerance."

The president said he was "against any meetings by official representatives of Israel with representatives of such groups."

His letter came in response to one sent in November by World Jewish Congress Vice President Ariel Muzicant and Vienna Jewish Community head Oskar Deutsch.

The two complained that "certain politicians in Israel are willing to meet populist parties of the European extreme right," including Austria's Freedom Party, and asked Israeli leaders "to draw a very clear red line between us and those who represent hate, neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism."

Rivlin told Muzicant and Deutsch that his comments applied to all "political parties you mention."

Asked if he thinks Trump's election could indeed herald a new dawn for Europe's far right, the EJA's Margolin answered hesitantly, "Who knows?"


The undeniable overlap: right-wing Zionism and Islamophobia 27.Oct.2018 14:29

Hilary Aked

The undeniable overlap: right-wing Zionism and Islamophobia

Hilary Aked 29 September 2015

A considerable faction of right-wing Zionists, of the sort who have long dominated pro-Israel politics, are often linked to organised Islamophobia promotion.

Ground zero mosque protest,2010. Demotix/CSMUncy.All rights reserved.Despite a wealth of empirical evidence, from overlapping board memberships among think tanks, to examples of Islamophobic tropes in pro-Israel propaganda, little scholarly attention has been paid to the overlap between Islamophobia and Zionism. This article focuses on some of the convergences in the funding networks of organised anti-Islam and pro-Israel groups, and it does so because it is important to locate the material base for the circulation of ideas in society in order to understand whose interests are being served. This funding nexus has been under-examined partly because of the problems of data collection where non-transparent think tanks are concerned, but also due to the highly politicised nature of the issue.
The 'Islamophobia industry' in the USA

Though the roots of Islamophobia are transnational and centuries old, it is possible to identify and even quantify contemporary efforts to keep it alive. In 2011, the Center for American Progress (CAP) produced a report, which examined the so-called 'misinformation experts' (as well as the politicians and media outlets) propagating Islamophobic ideas in the public sphere. While millions of Americans were being reached - and perhaps influenced - by these ideas, behind them was 'a small, tightly networked group' sustained by 'funding from a clutch of key foundations' pumping large amounts of money into the network. The data CAP compiled traced donations from the seven most significant donors to the eight most significant recipient bodies. The activities of each organisation are detailed in the CAP report and will not be repeated here, save for one indicative example - the Donors Capital Fund gave a single block grant of $18 million to the Clarion Fund in 2008, the same year the group distributed 28 million copies of the Islamophobic film Obsession, while Barack Obama was running for president and conspiracy theories about him being a 'secret Muslim' abounded.

In total, these seven foundations and charitable trusts put $42.5 million into the promotion of Islamophobia during the period studied (2001 to 2009). It is also worth noting the complexity of the money flows. For example, Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch received money not only from Aubrey and Joyce Chernick's Fairbrook Foundation, but also from some of the other major recipients, including the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Israel-related funding from Islamophobia industry donors

The CAP report notes the Zionist connections of many of the personnel involved in the Islamophobia industry and Israel crops up frequently among other causes receiving donations from these foundations, but CAP did not explore this very obvious intersection. However, the link has been examined by Elly Bulkin and Donna Nevel, who went back to the IRS 990 forms of the same seven foundations and collected the data on the Israel-related donations they had made. The total amount given by the same seven major Islamophobia industry donors to Israel-related causes is nearly $11 million.

The figures demonstrate an undeniable overlap in the giving patterns of at least four out of seven of the foundations, which as well as funding Islamophobia, gave indisputably significant amounts to Zionist projects during roughly the same period: The Anchorage Foundation & William Rosenwald Family Fund gave around $1.1 million; Fairbrook Foundation gave almost $1.8 million; Newton & Rochelle Becker Foundations & Charitable Trust gave just under $2.4 million; and the Russell Berrie Foundation gave $4.6 million.

However it is also important to note that the overlap is by no means absolute or comprehensive: Donors Capital Fund gave just under $1 million, which compared to the $20 million donations it channelled to the Islamophobia industry is relatively small; Lynde and Harry Bradley foundation gave only $70,000 to Israel-related projects; while the Richard Mellon Scaife foundations are not known to have given to any Israel-related projects.

Undeniable overlap

Before trying to assess why pro-Israel and anti-Muslim sentiments are frequently found together, it is necessary to address a critique which exemplifies the aforementioned highly politicised nature of the issues involved. The Community Security Trust (CST) is a British organisation which works to monitor and combat antisemitism in the UK, but has also been involved in pro-Israel initiatives. In a 2011 article titled 'Zionism and Islamophobia', Dave Rich of the CST argued that to point to any association between the two sets of ideas is:

a conspiracy theory which originates with Islamist groups, but is no longer limited to those circles. It refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of any concerns about political Islamism, which it conflates with Islam and Muslims in general. It has nothing to do with fighting Islamophobia, but repeatedly shouts down any other voices in that debate.

If we can accept that there are times when the label 'antisemitism' is misused to shield Israel/Zionism from criticism, we should also accept that there are times when the label 'Islamophobia' is misused to shield Islamists/ism from criticism. Equally, however, if we agree with Rich's assertion in the same article, that 'the promotion of antisemitic ideas by Islamist groups' is to some extent a genuine phenomenon of legitimate concern, we must also accept as legitimate - rather than dismissing as 'conspiracy theory' - concerns raised about Islamophobic ideas being promoted by some Zionist groups.

It is true that the overlap between Zionism and Islamophobia seems to be much stronger in the USA (though it may be a growing trend in the UK, perhaps best exemplified by the neoconservative British think tank the Henry Jackson Society, which has received donations from the USA). It is also important to acknowledge clearly that the studies referred to above present data extracted according to specific preconceived areas of interest and exclude donations related to many other causes. It would no doubt have been possible to manipulate the figures to show some degree of overlap between, say, anti-Muslim donations and educational projects; or Israel-related donations and funding to the arts. However, these figures do not stand alone. Complementing them is a wealth of qualitative data, some of which I will outline now, which suggests that there is a meaningful link between Zionism and Islamophobia together with some rational explanations for the convergence.

It is nevertheless worth saying that it certainly would be an antisemitic conspiracy theory to claim that the data shows that 'Jews' are promoting Islamophobia. Indeed this would be a case of opposition to Islamophobia taking the form of antisemitism - the reverse of cases in which 'opposition to antisemitism takes the form of Islamophobia'. Many, if not most, of the key actors in both pro-Israel lobbying and the Islamophobia industry - for example Christian Zionists and the many 'native informant' Muslims involved - are not Jewish; these are political issues rather than issues determined by ethno-religious identities.

Zionism and Islamophobia

To say, then, that Zionism is not synonymous with Islamophobia is not to ignore the fact that political strands of Zionism (though not cultural forms) involve processes of racialisation and to some extent advocate a racial hierarchy - albeit in a specific geographical context; nor the historical fact that, as 'a nationalist ideology, and simultaneously a conservative ideological response to European antisemitism, modern Zionism developed in close association with colonialism and imperialist expansion'. Put into practice, and embodied in the state of Israel, Zionism has been characterised by decades of occupation, settler colonialism and the ethnic cleansing of indigenous people. In addition, due to the necessary preoccupation of Zionism with demography, discrimination against non-Jews living with the 1948 borders of Israel continues.

Therefore, in the context of Palestine/Israel it seems that Zionism is de facto and inter alia Islamophobic. But to equate Zionism and Islamophobia too closely would be to erase the equally clear dispossession of Palestinian Christians. It would also ignore the fact that Zionism is a form of ethnic nationalism which in the land of historic Palestine not only privileges Jews over Muslims (as well as Christians, Arabs and others), but also overlaps with other forms of racism that can operate even against certain groups of Jews. For example Ashkenazi Jews are over-represented in the elite strata of Israeli society compared to, for example, Sephardi Jews. At the same time, representation of Mizrachi Jews in ultra-nationalist forms of Zionism currently dominant in Israel is on the rise. Racist discrimination faced by Jews of East African origin, however, has been consistent.

To return to Rich's critique, outside of the context of Palestine/Israel (for example, in the USA and the UK) it is, at least in theory, correct to say that 'there is no reason why someone cannot support Israel in the Middle East and also oppose hate crimes against Muslims in Britain' and that it should not be 'taken for granted that somebody who is a "Zionist" is ipso facto anti-Muslim'. This was borne out by the funding data cited earlier, which showed that at least one major foundation promoting anti-Muslim hatred appeared to have no links to Israel and two had only minimal connections. Further research could be done to analyse the funding overlap in the opposite direction, in other words starting with Zionist groups and looking at which donors also gave to Islamophobia promotion. However, it is clear that though there might be significant overlap, especially in the USA, it is far from absolute. Furthermore, just as Rich makes clear his opposition to Islamophobia, there are examples - such as Peter Beinart in the USA - of liberal Zionists being involved in anti-Islamophobia campaigns. It is not within the scope of this article to assess whether such initiatives could gain momentum, but given recent pronouncements about 'the end of liberal Zionism' and the 'triumph of neo-Zionism', it seems likely that the space for an anti-racist Zionism - if indeed such an idea was not a paradox all along - is fast diminishing.

Part of the explanation for why there is some overlap between Zionism and Islamophobia may be found in theology, since for many religious Zionists and Christian Zionists 'prophesy is the main driver' of Islamophobia. But the embrace of anti-Muslim racism by many other pro-Israel actors in the USA and UK is often motivated by far more pragmatic considerations of political strategy. MJ Rosenberg, formerly of the pro-Israel lobby group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), writing in 2010 about why some pro-Israel actors joined protests against the so-called 'Ground Zero Mosque' in New York suggested that:

It is not because they are instinctive bigots. It is that they believe that the more acceptance there is of Muslims here at home, the less reflexive hatred there will be for Muslims abroad. And that, in their view, reduces America's sympathy for Israel.

This view - that pro-Israel advocates believe Islamophobia encourages sympathy for Israel - was borne out when I interviewed Mitchell Bard, another ex-AIPAC staffer, who made this clear in far less critical terms. He brought up the political expediency for Israel of Americans' racism/xenophobia early on in our interview, entirely unprompted, after I asked him to account for popular support for Israel in USA opinion polls. As well as citing similar 'values', the second factor he referred to was 'the activities of the Arabs that reinforce anti-Arab and anti-Muslim stereotypes'. When prompted to explain, he continued:

I don't like to say this or put it this way but I think most Americans see Arabs as backward, primitive, savages, terrorists and... so every time there's a terrorist attack, it just reinforces what most Americans believe. So if you look at those same polls there's virtually no support for the Palestinians.

While Bard is not referring to the domestic context and is certainly not saying that AIPAC deliberately promotes anti-Muslim or anti-Arab stereotypes, he is clearly making a causal connection between the fact that such stereotypes are pervasive and the fact that few Americans sympathise with the Palestinian cause. The risk here is that, if one accepts this analysis, from an Israel-advocate's perspective it arguably makes sense to perpetuate these ideas, or at the very least not to challenge them. Thus, while Rich may be correct in theory that one can support Israel in the Middle East and also oppose hate crimes at home, Rosenberg's account of how the views of people like Bard regarding foreign affairs may end up being applied at home is compelling and problematises Rich's assertion. In practice, we can see this phenomenon play out on both sides of the Atlantic.

Arun Kundnani has observed, in the context of the USA, that:

The extent to which pro-Israel lobby groups have cultivated such an atmosphere [of Islamophobia] has reflected their anxiety that the Muslim-American population is growing, and that the political influence of Muslims in the US might one day reflect their numbers.

This fear - that acceptance of Muslim participation in democratic processes could influence domestic government policy on, as well as public attitudes about, the Middle East - has been articulated by Alan Mendoza, director of the UK's Henry Jackson Society, with regard to the European context. When he spoke at the AIPAC conference in Washington, in June 2013, about waning support for Israel on the continent, he pointedly noted that: 'The European Muslim population has doubled in the past 30 years and is predicted to double again by 2040.' Therefore, the so-called 'demographic threat' commonly discussed in Israel with regard to Palestinians (referred to as 'Israeli-Arabs'), is transposed to the USA and to Europe.

Support for ethnic privilege in one geographical region bleeds into anxiety about the political influence of Muslims (assumed to be homogenous and monolithic) as an ethno-religious group in other contexts. At its most extreme, this demographic argument comes in the shape of the infamous 'Eurabia' conspiracy theory, promulgated by Bat Ye'or, a paranoid Islamophobic fantasy about an elite bargain to transform Europe into an Islamic continent, which gained traction after 9/11 and is popular with the far-right 'counterjihad' movement.

Conclusion

If the 'war on terror' has stimulated the growth of Islamophobia, it has also accelerated the opportunistic positioning of Israel as the 'front-line' of the 'war on terror' by Israeli politicians and Israel-advocates. While these trends were under way well before 9/11, further research is needed into what appears to be a rapidly growing connection, which can probably best be explained by historical contingency. While Islamophobia is fast becoming 'the defining condition of the new Europe' and is flourishing in the west more broadly, Israel is increasingly being constructed as defending 'the Judeo-Christian' heritage in a clash of civilisations with 'radical Islam'. However, as we have seen, some promoters of Islamophobia have little or no interest in Israel and to argue that Zionism is the only or even the main cause of anti-Muslim bigotry would be inaccurate and unhelpful, ignoring many other sources of anti-Muslim prejudice, not least misguided counter-terrorism policies in many western nation states.

Islamophobia is much older than the state of Israel and much older than Zionist ideology. In addition, even where an overlap is evident, the instrumentalisation may function in the opposite direction, in the sense that Islamophobes who fear what they perceive as Islamic expansionism ('Islamisation' or 'Islamification') view Israel as a critical bulwark. The overlap between Zionism and Islamophobia is, then, far from absolute and there is no straightforward causal relationship, but it has been argued here that a considerable faction of right-wing Zionists, of the sort who have long dominated pro-Israel politics, are often linked to organised Islamophobia promotion.

Though this is not seen as inevitable, the 'ethnicization of politics' flows smoothly from the ethnocentric particularism of Zionist ideology. It is suggested by way of a conclusion that, in the context of growing racism of all forms, any attempt to build a much-needed transversal anti-racist political movement needs to be de-linked from Zionist political imperatives which could preclude its success.


Closer Ties Between India and Israel Must Not Become an anti-Muslim Alliance 27.Oct.2018 14:37

Shairee Malhotra

There are many good reasons for Modi and Netanyahu to celebrate warming relations. But if they exploit that closeness to boost a shared narrative of extreme nationalism, exclusion and defining Muslims as the enemy - we, in India, must discredit it

Shairee Malhotra
Jan 19, 2018 9:45 AM

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greet during the India-Israel Business Summit in New Delhi. January 15, 2018MONEY SHARMA/AFP
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India's 'internet Hindus' are in love with Israel
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Netanyahu hails new era of friendship with India; bilateral agreements signed
Hitler's Hindus: The rise and rise of India's Nazi-loving nationalists

It has been a ground-breaking year for India-Israel relations, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting Israel in July 2017 and, this week, his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu making a reciprocal visit, all within just six months.

A lot is being said about the undeniable strategic cooperation and benefits of the relationship.

But underlying these practical considerations are talks amongst prominent analysts in India of an "ideological affinity" between the two. Do India and Israel really share an ideological affinity?

Let us start by briefly revisiting Israel's ideological roots. The State of Israel was created as a nation-state and safe homeland for the Jewish people, not least as a consequence of their historical worldwide persecution. Within Israel's identity lies an exclusive national and religious conception: a purportedly democratic and secular state that primarily expresses the sense of belonging of Jews. This sociopolitical conception inherently renders Israel's Arab minority second-class citizens.

Post-independence India, on the other hand, is an ethnically, linguistically, and religiously diverse pluralistic state based on the ideals of democracy and secularism laid down by its founding fathers. This ideological conception resulted in the marginalization of religion in the national identity of the state.

The communalization of Indian politics in the 1980s with the advent of vote bank politics, and the subsequent emergence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing, Hindu nationalist party, chaired by PM Modi, has since challenged this identity. But still, the multi-ethnic secularism of the Indian state at its foundation is fundamentally different from Israel and other religiously conceptualized states, like Pakistan.

Proponents of the 'affinity' idea assert that for both countries, confronting Islamist terror is a key common ground. Dr Vivek Dehejia, Professor at Carleton University in Canada and Senior Fellow at the IDFC Institute in Mumbai, is one of several commentators calling for a tripartite alliance between India, Israel, and the U.S. on the basis that the three countries have suffered "from the scourge of Islamic terrorism."

Israel, since its birth in controversy, has suffered consistently from terrorism emanating from groups with a radical Islamic orientation, most notably Hamas and Hezbollah. The displacement of the Palestinian people through the creation of Israel, the consequent non-acceptance of its existence in majority of the Islamic world, and the numerous wars that ensued, have inevitably resulted in Israel becoming a state prioritizing security over other values. But India's situation is markedly different.

India has an abysmal ranking in the Global Terrorism Index, which measures the number of attacks and casualties, ranking just a few spots below Afghanistan and Syria. But in contrast to Israel, most terrorist attacks in India are not perpetrated by Islamist fundamentalists but by internal insurgences fuelled by very different ideologies, including Maoists and the Naxalites.

Furthermore, it is not without reason that India is touted as a case study within Europe in terms of not just its successful federal union, but also its relatively successful assimilation of Islam. India has the world's second largest Muslim population after Indonesia, a community of over 180 million people.

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Policemen reinforce barricades during a protest against the visit of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu near the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, India. Jan.15, 2018Oinam Anand/AP
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But at a time when Islamist fundamentalism remains a major global challenge, a miniscule number of Indian Muslims, only 23 individuals as of the end of 2016, have left to fight for ISIS. Contrarily, the tiny state of Belgium with a population of less than half a million Muslims has produced nearly 500 ISIS fighters - the highest per capita in Europe.

India has historically been a hotbed of Islamist extremism, but India's complex relations with Pakistan must be de-hyphenated from India's massive domestic Muslim population.

Indian Muslims are far less attracted to violent Islamism, not least because of India's secular nature and the opportunities for full participation within the political system, and the persistence in India of the moderate traditions of South Asian Islam and its relative lack of exposure to the fundamentalist Wahhabi Islam propagated in Pakistan. Indeed, scholars Fearon & Laitin posit that despite occurrences of religious conflict, cooperation not conflict remains the norm in India.

Indeed, India needs to secure its borders and citizens from internal and cross-border terrorist attacks, whether Islamist-oriented or internal Maoist assaults, and cooperation with Israel is vital in this context. But that should not be paraphrased in terms of building an anti-Islamic coalition.

PM Netanyahu has, during his current visit to India, reiterated the importance of strengthening security cooperation against radical Islam. But even though a certain degree of religious turmoil does exist, a tacit anti-Islamic alliance wrongly signals Muslims as the common enemy, and disproportionately and erroneously singles out Islam as India's key security threat.

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A hoarding welcoming Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu featuring him along with Indian PM Narendra Modi at the International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology. Ahmadabad, India. Jan. 16, 2018 Ajit Solanki/AP
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The India-Israel relationship is also commonly being framed in terms of a natural convergence of ideas between their ruling BJP and Likud parties.

The ethno-nationalist political movements of the BJP's Hindutva and right-wing Zionism represent exclusivist conceptions of the state based on their majority populations, thereby naturally discriminating against other ethnicities or religions. Both parties and have moved rightwards from earlier, more liberal versions of Hindutva and Zionism.

Identities, including religious and ethnic, are by nature instrumental and malleable. The rise of Hindutva has in parts resulted in a subsequent weakening of an Indian national identity in preference to a Hindu identity, and threatened the secularism of the Indian state.

Hindu nationalist parties have managed to unify a diverse Hindu polity through their clever construction of a narrative of Hindus as historically victims at the hands of Muslims - an idea that resonates amongst the masses, given India's bloody legacy of Partition and its ensuing turbulent relationship with Pakistan.

In fact, Israel's biggest fans in India appear to be the Internet Hindus who primarily love Israel for how it deals with Palestine and fights Muslims.

The normative positing of Indo-Israeli relations in the context of such intellectual parallels once again frames the Muslim threat against a Jewish Israel and an allegedly Hindu India, whilst simultaneously legitimizing Hindutva politics. And whilst parallels between the two political streams exist, Hindutva does not equate to India, just as right-wing Zionism does not equate to Israel; these ideologies should not be the foundation of the Indo-Israeli relationship.

None of this is intended to critique Israel, or to oppose closer India: Israel relations per se.

Israel has been enormously successful in confronting its traditional enemies and securing its borders. It has achieved significant technological sophistication and developed expertise in realms beyond defense and security to include areas such as water management and agriculture that remain a top priority for India. The two countries are working on a five year agriculture and water cooperation plan, which fit in perfectly with PM Modi's deployment of vigorous diplomacy to achieve India's development goals.

Thus, by all means, India must continue to pursue a strong strategic, economic and security relationship with Israel. But this kinship should be regarded as more pragmatic and transformational than ideological.

India's foreign policy makers recognize the complexities of its alliances and decisions, and those same considerations relate to India's relations towards Israel and towards the Palestinians. There may be a growing realization of the diminishing returns its pro-Palestinian policy has incurred, but India's UN vote against the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel exhibits a pragmatism that even repeated statements by Israel, about a 'marriage made in heaven', won't significantly shift.

It is naοve, even perturbing, to couple India and Israel as ideological sisters. India should have no interest in resembling further an exclusivist conception of the nation-state legitimizing one ethnic or religious group's primacy. It must instead try harder to ideologically safeguard itself from the menace of Hindutva becoming a guiding principle for the state and a tool of incitement among its citizens.

Its exclusive and discriminatory conception that India belongs only to Hindus is dangerous, not least at a time when the lynching of minorities and Dalits in the name of cow vigilantism are becoming more commonplace.

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Indian children wave to a vehicle carrying Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian PM Narendra Modi as they arrive at Sabarmati (Gandhi) Ashram in Ahmadabad, India. Jan. 17, 2018Ajit Solanki/AP
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This is where the talk about an "ideological affinity" between India and Israel is not only erroneous but could potentially have serious repercussions for India, by giving a green light to the politics of extremist Hindutva.

That language draws simplistic and amateurish conclusions from superficial similarities, whilst failing to take into account the disparate foundations, unique circumstances, and consequent paths that both countries have adopted.

And it's critical both for India's domestic and international relations that the narrative of an anti-Islam 'front' underpinning the two countries' relations be publicly discredited.

PM Netanyahu's current visit to India has focused on many diverse arenas of cooperation: innovation, technology, and tourism; he's even made a pitch to lure Bollywood to make movies in Israel.

That kind of broad spectrum of interactions would indeed lend credence to the idea that the India: Israel relationship goes beyond a convergence of right-wing Hindu nationalists in New Delhi, and right-wing Jewish nationalists in Jerusalem.



An earlier version of this article appeared in the Fair Observer
 https://www.fairobserver.com/region/central_south_asia/india-israel-relations-narendra-modi-visit-middle-east-asia-world-news-56401/


How Benjamin Netanyahu enables anti-Semitism 27.Oct.2018 14:45

Joshua Shanes

The dangers of weaponizing anti-Jewish hatred

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on Feb. 11. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool/AP)
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By Joshua Shanes
February 26

In 1896, Theodor Herzl proposed Zionism as a solution to anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism, he argued, was a result of Jews being people without a homeland. With a state of their own, Jews would transform into muscular specimens that demanded world respect, and the future Jewish state — a liberal, secular utopia of freedom and prosperity — would finally uproot the source of anti-Semitic persecution. In the meantime, however, he was comfortable exploiting anti-Semitism for his own purposes, exaggerating Jewish power and encouraging anti-Semites to support his project as a refuge for the Jews they didn't want.

This precedent is being pushed to scandalous new extremes by Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters, who are increasingly allying with anti-Semites and promoting anti-Semitism, even as they cynically claim to be its chief victim. To pull this off, they are redefining "anti-Semitism" to mean opposition to Netanyahu's policies and "Jews" to mean his supporters. This strategy not only abuses history, it endangers the Jewish people by legitimizing real anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic regimes.

"Anti-Semitism" — a term coined in Germany in 1879 — is a modern ideology different from earlier theologically driven Jew hatred. Pre-modern hatred of Jews based itself on early Christian anti-Jewish notions such as deicide (the killing of God) and the curse of rejecting Christ. Early church texts connecting Jews to Satan later evolved into medieval myths about Jewish demonic behavior, ritual murder, host desecration and more.

Starting in the late 19th century, modern anti-Semitism was built upon this foundation but reflected Europe's new secular, increasingly democratic environment. Rather than decrying Jewish religious disbelief, anti-Semites feared global domination by an international Jewish conspiracy. Anti-Semites also increasingly viewed Jews as a race distinct from their own, and thus unable to overcome their negative qualities, no matter how much they changed their outward appearance.

Unlike medieval Jew hatred, modern anti-Semitism acted as an organizing principle of people's entire political worldview. It was not merely a casual prejudice; it was an ideology, one that became the platform of modern political parties seeking to mobilize millions of voters in favor of a set of ultranationalist ideas that favored an anti-liberal, authoritarian regime based on race and an aggressive military.

Above all, anti-Semitism acted as a code to rally disparate classes that feared the effects of modernity — industrialization, urbanization, secularization — would destroy traditional society and its hierarchy. That is why Jews could be seen as the communist threat and the capitalist exploiter, both the power mogul and his army of poor minions.

Anti-Semites assumed that all Jews constituted a single being, with a famous Jewish tycoon such as Lionel or Edmund Rothschild at its head, conspiring to conquer and destroy the world and its natural nationalist order. (The Rothschilds were the most famous Jewish banking family of the 19th century and symbolized international Jewish wealth and power for anti-Semites at that time, as George Soros does for many anti-Semites today.)

Although these anti-Semitic parties were a flash in the pan in the 1880s and 1890s, they left behind a dangerous legacy: making it politically acceptable to talk about Jews as an outsize threat. And that legacy ultimately helped pave the way for the rise of new anti-Semitic parties in the 1920s and 1930s, parties that did not mean this rhetoric merely as a code but were put into power all the same. Only with the full expression of the ideologies' genocidal potential during the Holocaust was anti-Semitism finally rendered politically unacceptable.

And this brings us back to Netanyahu. Last fall, Hungary's ultranationalist government launched an anti-Semitic campaign with posters of Soros that evoked the classic anti-Semitic lie of a powerful, foreign, cosmopolitan Jew using his wealth in a shadowy manner to destroy the fabric of the nation. Israel's ambassador immediately rebuked the government, but then Netanyahu retracted the ambassador's criticism, despite grave concerns by Hungarian Jews that it was inflaming local anti-Semitic aggression.

Netanyahu's son later posted a virulently anti-Semitic meme with Soros as puppet master behind his (Netanyahu's) family legal troubles, which the prime minister again refused to condemn. And now Netanyahu has joined anti-Semites in accusing Soros of engineering and paying for the global Jewish effort — an effort including countless groups in America, Israel and beyond — to stop Israel from deporting 40,000 African refugees.

Netanyahu is not merely cynically stoking a dangerous anti-Semitic myth that still resonates with millions of people for political gain. He is going further and trying to redefine anti-Semitism.

For Netanyahu and many in his camp, at home and abroad, anti-Semitism no longer means evoking fear of shadowy Jewish power, Jewish exploitation of capitalist opportunity or an ethno-nationalism that refuses to see Jews as equal co-citizens. Instead, anti-Semitism is now defined as opposition to Israel's current regime. To oppose Netanyahu personally, or to oppose the settlement project and the occupation of territories captured during the Israeli-Arab wars more generally, is for them the very essence of "anti-Semitism."

To Netanyahu and his backers, the only acceptable form of Zionism, and thus the only acceptable political position for loyal Jews or their non-Jewish allies, is unequivocal support for Israel's current government and its initiatives. Even the strand of Zionism embodied by J Street — an American organization that promotes a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and opposes Israeli settlements in the West Bank — let alone Zionist groups to their left, now constitutes an "anti-Semitic" threat.

Netanyahu's purpose is the same as his anti-Semitic predecessors: to rally disparate groups behind his ethno-nationalist project by stoking fear and hatred of its political opponents. Jews in Israel or America who support Israel and oppose Israel's military rule in the West Bank are thus framed not as political opponents within the camp, but as "anti-Israel" and thus "anti-Semitic" outsiders. In contrast, racist comments about Palestinians or political positions that deny collective or individual Palestinian rights are mainstreamed and deemed acceptable.

This is why the Zionist Organization of America can invite Stephen K. Bannon to be the guest of honor at its banquet. This is why Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer can accept an award from the Islamophobic hatemonger Frank Gaffney. And this is why the Israeli Bar Association invited South Carolina state Sen. Alan Clemmons — a devout Christian who has called supporters of J Street "anti-Semitic" and denied the existence of a Palestinian nation — to keynote its Jerusalem conference on anti-Semitism, where his talk addressed "the lie of occupation."

Indeed, Netanyahu is not merely applying anti-Semitic stereotypes to the Jewish left. He is embracing those stereotypes to read the left out of the Jewish community. Hence his willingness to cut political ties with left-wing Jews in the United States in favor of evangelicals and other right-wing Christian allies.

He can make common cause with Bannon or Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban because their enemy is his enemy: liberals and Muslims. If Netanyahu's left-wing Jewish critics are no longer seen as Jewish but rather as enemies of the Jewish people, then attacking Soros through a hooknosed caricature is not anti-Semitic. Through this intellectual sleight-of-hand, people who might otherwise be seen as anti-Semites now become friends of Israel, while his anti-Semitic attacks become legitimate criticism of Israel's enemies.

The danger of this behavior is not only its corrosive effect on the Jewish community and, paradoxically, on Jewish support for Israel itself. Even more perniciously, the self-described "leader of the Jewish people" has given his stamp of approval to one of the most destructive lies in modern Jewish history. When David Duke and the Daily Stormer website are voicing their support for Netanyahu and citing him as proof of their own pernicious lies, that damage is difficult to undo.

It took the Holocaust to render such anti-Semitic lies unacceptable in Western society. How ironic that the prime minister of Israel, so focused on his own career and ethno-nationalist agenda, is rendering them acceptable again.


Anti-Semites feted by Zionist Organization of America 27.Oct.2018 14:52

Michael F. Brown

Michael F. Brown Lobby Watch 15 November 2017

A who's who of professional Palestinian haters and extreme right-wingers attended Sunday's gala dinner for the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) in New York.

Abettors of white nationalism and anti-Semitism such as Steve Bannon mingled with advocates of an ethnonationalist Israel, among them Morton Klein, the ZOA president, who offered his anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian views to the subcommittee on national security in the US House of Representatives just last week.

Ron DeSantis, the subcommittee's chair, was among those attending the ZOA event - and among those members of Congress who stayed quiet last week as Klein directed his hatred at Muslims and Palestinians.

White nationalist sympathizer and self-professed Christian Zionist Steve Bannon was arguably the best-known guest at the gala. After working as a chief strategist in Donald Trump's White House, Bannon is back running Breitbart News, a favorite website for white supremacists.

Men like Bannon are now the political partners of the ZOA and the crowd of supporters that turned out on Sunday. If you're pro-Israel in these circles, then any form of bigotry goes.

Nazi sympathizer Sebastian Gorka - who worked alongside Bannon in the White House - was there despite his connections to anti-Semitic leaders in Hungary.

Alan Dershowitz, the lawyer who has advocated such war crimes as the destruction of Palestinian villages, was there.
Applause for bigots

Newsweek reported other right-wingers who were present. Trump's former spokesperson, the Holocaust minimizer Sean Spicer, was there.

Conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec of Pizzagate infamy was also there.

So, too, was Islamophobe and conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer who self-describes as "a Jew who actually admits that globalist Marxist Jews run the media."

Sheldon Adelson was absent but sent a message of support. The billionaire funder of the Republican Party declared in 2013, "There's no such thing as a Palestinian."

Batya Ungar-Sargon, opinion editor with The Jewish Daily Forward, noted that Gorka and Spicer got the two biggest rounds of applause during the evening. She wrote that the audience was excited about Gorka's presence but "at one time in the not so distant past, belonging to what is officially considered an anti-Semitic organization would lead to being shunned by Jews."

Not on this evening. Sunday, at the ZOA event, support for Israel and hatred of Palestinians were enough to bring together Bannon and Dershowitz, anti-Semites and Morton Klein.

Complicated?

Understanding this seems likely to be complicated, but it is not. For years, politicians on the right and left have received a pass for anti-Palestinian bigotry and efforts to stymie Palestinian freedom.

Organizations such as the ZOA go searching for examples of alleged left-wing anti-Semitism - often criticism of Israeli human rights abuses and the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns which seek to do something about such abuses - while ignoring the real right-wing anti-Semitism staring them in the face and being feted at their own galas.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, took a similar approach this past weekend.

He excoriated Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Palestinian American activist Linda Sarsour for leading a panel on anti-Semitism at The New School in New York scheduled for later this month.

He tweeted that it's like "Oscar Meyer leading a panel on vegetarianism. These panelists know the issue, but unfortunately, from perspective of fomenting it rather than fighting it."

He claimed "there's not a single Jewish organization that studies this issue and/or fights this disease (such as @adl_national) would take this panel seriously, let alone the institution that put it together."

It is deeply troubling that Greenblatt indicates such strong advocates for equal rights for Palestinians should be disqualified from discussing anti-Semitism.

Meanwhile, Greenblatt tweeted nothing about sympathizers of white supremacists and Nazis celebrating with the ZOA. Perhaps that is due to the collegiality that comes with both organizations being members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which has defended bigots such as Avigdor Lieberman - now Israel's defense minister - in recent years.

Prominent advocates for Palestinian rights like James Zogby, Yousef Munayyer and the aforementioned Vilkomerson all pushed back on Greenblatt's tweets.

Sadly, many Democratic politicians scarcely know what to do with the ZOA-Bannon-Gorka alliance because they too are accustomed to demeaning Palestinians and lauding right-wing Israeli politicians who oppose Palestinian freedom.

Change in Washington is slow. Some 200 protesters, however, rallied outside the ZOA event at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan.

The appalling alliances cemented during the Trump administration are not going unnoticed. Nevertheless, they grow, in part because much of the so-called resistance in Washington fails to raise the alarm.


Neo-fascist Europe alligns with pro-Israel forces against Muslims 27.Oct.2018 14:56

Max Parry

 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2018/10/436761.shtml

The distinguishing characteristic of this new wave of fascism is not just jettisoning of anti-Semitism, but strong support of the state of Israel. For instance, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) which is now the largest opposition party in the Bundestag is bankrolled by the pro-Israel Gatestone Institute  https://theintercept.com/2017/09/22/german-election-afd-gatestone-institute/ and closely aligned with Netanyahu's  https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/germanys-new-nazis-see-israel-role-model Likud party. In France, Marine Le Pen's National Front (now known as National Rally) is historically anti-Semitic but has gradually shifted its agenda toward attacking Islam in recent decades as well. Steve Bannon himself even boasted he is an avowed "Judeo-Christian Zionist." On the surface this disturbing alliance between Holocaust-denying figures like Viktor Orban and Israel may seem unlikely, it also makes perfect sense considering both Zionists and the extreme right hold the historical view that Jews are fundamentally non-native to Europe and they have a common civilizational 'enemy' in Islam.


Breitbart: a space for pro-Israel writers and anti-Semitic readers 27.Oct.2018 15:10

Robert Mackey

November 16 2016, 12:03 p.m.

For his part, Steve Bannon has denied that the alt-right ideology he has promoted through Breitbart and Trump is racist. He prefers, he told Mother Jones, to call it a form of nationalism, similar to that promoted by ethnic-nationalist parties across Europe, which are also animated by a shared hatred for Muslims. "If you look at the identity movements over there in Europe," Bannon said, their focus is "really 'Polish identity' or 'German identity,' not racial identity. It's more identity toward a nation-state or their people as a nation."

Many of those parties, including the French National Front and the Dutch Freedom Party, are also staunch supporters of Israel, seeing in the Jewish state's nationalist ideology a mirror of their own quest to live in ethnically pure nation states, free to discriminate against or expel Muslims.

For that reason it is not surprising that Breitbart solicited a letter in support of Bannon from an Israeli politician, Yossi Dagan, who leads the Samaria Settler Council, a body representing Israeli settlements in the northern West Bank. Dagan, who is also a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, wrote in an open letter to Bannon that he was "saddened" by "the uncalled for smear campaign against you," but also "glad that after eight hard years we now have decent-minded people like yourself coming to power in Washington."

As the Israeli journalist Dimi Reider pointed out last year, the settler council Dagan now leads produced a jaw-dropping political commercial on the eve of Israel's most recent elections. Using anti-Semitic tropes borrowed from the Nazis, the ad attacked Israeli human rights activists for accepting European Union funds to document abuses in the occupied territories.


Netanuyahu's Courting of Bolsonaro is the Latest of Israel's Far-right Alliances 04.Nov.2018 20:27

by Jonathan Cook

Netanuyahu's Courting of Bolsonaro is the Latest of Israel's Alliances with Far-right Figures

November 4th, 2018

The victory of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil's presidential election last week has won Israel a passionate new friend on the international stage. The world's fifth-most populous nation will now be "coloured in blue and white", an Israeli official said, referring to the colours of Israel's flag.

The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately called to congratulate Bolsonaro, a former army officer with a pronounced nostalgia for his country's 20-year military dictatorship. Critics describe him as a neo-fascist.

According to Israeli media reports, it is "highly probable" that Netanyahu will attend Bolsonaro's inauguration on January 1.

The Brazilian president-elect has already promised that his country will be the third to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, after the United States and Guatemala. That will further undermine Palestinian hopes for an eventual state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Bolsonaro has told Israel that it can count on Brazil's vote at the United Nations, and has threatened to close the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia.

One might imagine that Netanyahu is simply being pragmatic in cosying up to Bolsonaro, given Brazil's importance. But that would be to ignore an unmistakable trend: Israel has relished the recent emergence of far-right leaders across the Americas and Europe, often to the horror of local Jewish communities.

Bolsonaro has divided Brazil's 100,000 Jews. Some have been impressed by the frequent appearance of Israeli flags at his rallies and his anti-Palestinian stance. But others point out that he regularly expresses hostility to minorities.

They suspect that Bolsonaro covets Israel's military expertise and the votes of tens of millions of fundamentalist Christians in Brazil, who see Israel as central to their apocalyptic, and in many cases antisemitic, beliefs. Not that this worries Netanyahu.

He has been engaged in a similar bromance with Viktor Orban, the ultra-nationalist prime minister of Hungary, who barely veils his Jew-baiting and has eulogised Miklos Horthy, a Hungarian leader who collaborated with the Nazis.

Netanyahu has also courted Poland's far-right prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, even as the latter has fuelled Holocaust revisionism with legislation to outlaw criticism of Poland for its involvement in the Nazi death camps. Millions of Jews were exterminated in such camps.

Israel is cultivating alliances with other ultra-nationalists - in and out of power - in the Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

The conclusion drawn by Jewish communities abroad is that their well being - even their safety - is now a much lower priority than bolstering Israel's diplomatic influence.

That was illustrated starkly last week in the immediate aftermath of a massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue on October 27. Robert Bowers gunned down 11 worshippers in the worst antisemitic attack in US history.

Jewish communities have linked the awakening of the white-nationalist movement to which Bowers belonged to the Trump administration's hostile rhetoric towards immigrants and ethnic minorities.

In Pittsburgh, huge crowds protested as Trump paid a condolence visit to the Tree of Life synagogue, holding banners aloft with slogans such as: "President Hate, leave our state."

Equally hard to ignore is that Israeli leaders, while they regularly denounce US and European left-wingers as antisemites for criticising Israel over its abuse of Palestinians, have remained studiously silent on Trump's inflammatory statements.

Chemi Shalev, a commentator for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, noted the disturbing impression created by Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the US, escorting Trump through Pittsburgh. Dermer looked like a "bodyguard", shielding the president from local Jewish protesters, Shalev observed.

Meanwhile, tone-deaf diaspora affairs minister Naftali Bennett, leader of largest Israeli settler party, the Jewish Home, milked the local community's pain over the Pittsburgh massacre to Israel's advantage. At an official commemoration service, he compared Bowers' bullets to rockets fired by Palestinians, describing both as examples of antisemitism.

In an online post before the attack, Bowers singled out the synagogue for its prominent role helping refugees gain asylum in the US.

Trump has rapidly turned immigration into a "national security" priority. Last week, he sent thousands of US troops to the border with Mexico to stop what he termed an "invasion" by refugees from Central America.

Drawing on the histories of their own families having fled persecution, liberal Jews such as those at the Pittsburgh synagogue believe it is a moral imperative to assist refugees escaping oppression and conflict.

That message is strenuously rejected not only by Trump, but by the Israeli government.

In a move Trump hopes to replicate on the Mexico border, Israel has built a 250km wall along the border with Egypt to block the path of asylum-seekers from war-torn Africa.

Netanyahu's government has also circumvented international law and Israeli court rulings to jail and then deport existing refugees back to Africa, despite evidence that they will be placed in grave danger.

Bennett has termed the refugees "a plague of illegal infiltrators", while the culture minister Miri Regev has labelled them a "cancer". Polls suggest that more than half of Israeli Jews agree.

Separately, Israel's nation-state law, passed in the summer, gives constitutional weight to the notion that Israel belongs exclusively to Jews, stripping the fifth of the population who are Palestinian citizens of the most basic rights.

More generally, Israel views Palestinians through a single prism: as a demographic threat to the Jewishness of the Greater Israel project that Netanyahu has been advancing.

In short, Israel's leaders are not simply placating a new wave of white-nationalist and neo-fascist leaders. They have a deep-rooted ideological sympathy with them.

For the first time, overseas Jewish communities are being faced with a troubling dilemma. Do they really wish to subscribe to a Jewish nationalism in Israel that so strongly echoes the ugly rhetoric and policies threatening them at home?

• First published in The National