Dr. Manfred GerstenfeldThe writer has been a long-term adviser on strategy issues to the boards of several major multinational corporations in Europe and North America.He is board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and recipient of the LIfetime Achievement Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.
How bad is the increasing emergence of neo-fascist and extreme right wing parties in recent European parliamentary elections for the Jews and Israel? Asking incomplete questions will not help much to better understand the huge complexity of the European Union’s reality.
Much more useful would be to ask another more far-reaching question – what threats against Jews and Israel are emanating from the European Union? To obtain insights, one should separate the two.
Much of what is threatening to the Jews isn’t necessarily extremely dangerous for Israel, and vice versa.
The main danger to European Jews is physical violence and other attacks. Radical anti-Semitic right wing parties like Hungary’s Jobbik and the Greek Golden Dawn are dangerous mainly in their own countries. Another important issue in Europe concerns frequent assaults on Jewish rites such as ritual slaughter and circumcision. Concerning physical violence, this change in the parliament’s composition is unlikely to have much of an impact. However, the arrival of more right wing and populist parties may increase demand for a necessary empowerment of law and order in Europe. Other parties may strengthen the European anti-ritual slaughter and circumcision lobby.
The increase in anti-Islam parliamentarians may bring with it not only addditional xenophobia, but also a necessary warning to Muslim communities and their leaders to act far more determinedly against the many racists, anti-Semites, radicals and hooligans in their midst. Racism is detrimental, increasing Muslim communal responsibility would be positive.
With the exception of a few places such as in the third largest Swedish city Malmö, the majority of physical attacks against Jews were perpetrated by “white people.” Yet Muslims are often greatly over-represented among the anti-Semitic aggressors with respect to their size in the population. This is even truer among those committing the most violent anti-Semitic crimes.
As far as attacks on Jewish rituals are concerned, many are instigated by left or even mainstream parties. A recent case - the prohibition of ritual slaughter in Denmark - was decreed by a hypocritical socialist minister of agriculture. He claimed that he wanted to protect animals - in a country where bestiality brothels offering and promoting human sex with dogs and other animals are legal.
In 2013, the E.U.- affiliated Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) deleted the eight year old definition of anti-Semitism from its website... probably explained in part by the fact that the definition had included anti-Semitic actions against Israel.
Attacks on ritual slaughter in the Netherlands which passed in the lower chamber of parliament but failed in the senate, were initiated by the Party for the Animals which now managed to get its first ever seat in the European Parliament. They were supported by leftist Socialists and populists from the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders.
The European Union has done very little to fight anti-Semitism other than offer rhetoric. In 2013, the E.U.- affiliated Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) deleted the eight year old definition of anti-Semitism from its website. This can probably be explained in part by the fact that the definition had included anti-Semitic actions against Israel. If one went by this definition, the E.U. and several of its leaders regularly commit anti-Semitic acts. Applying double standards with respect to Israel’s settlements is one of many examples.
Regarding Israel, the situation becomes even more complex. If we start ranking anti-Israel hate mongers for instance where would one put the French Green Party – supporters of the Palestinian glorifiers of the murderers of Israeli civilians -- as compared to that country’s National Front led by Marine LePen? It has fascist origins as well as Holocaust deniers and fascists among its members. This includes the leader’s father Jean Marie LePen, who was re-elected to the European Parliament.
The European extreme left also tried to regroup. It presented the Greek Alexis Tsipras as its leader. He heads the anti-Israel party Syriza, which got the largest number of votes in Greece. Many European socialists systematically ignore the genocidal anti-Semitic incitement by Hamas and the glorification of Palestinian murderers of Israeli civilians by Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues. Socialists however, are not the only ones in mainstream parties to do so.
Populists in Europe are very diverse. The second largest Italian faction in the European Parliament is comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star Movement, which is anti-Israel. Its leader has made many anti-Semitic remarks. The anti-immigrant UKIP Party which won the elections in the United Kingdom does not discuss Israel much. The Dutch Freedom Party is pro-Israel.
The main loser in these elections is the European Union and its undemocratic and arrogant bureaucracy. First of all, Europeans voted mainly by not using their feet. There was a turnout of about 43%. Eurosceptics and anti-Europeans may represent about 30% of the parliamentarians. Even though they are a highly heterogeneous mix of leftists, rightists and populists, the Brussels bureaucrats will feel their presence.
The most remarkable turn-around was when UKIP leader Nigel Farage changed policy overnight. He had campaigned for taking the U.K. out of Europe. He is now in favor of the abolishment of the E.U.
Widespread Eurosceptic and anti-European sentiments result partly from the economic stagnation. The delayed damaging outcome of the irresponsible creation of the Euro, also almost created a global economic crisis.The economic predicament also confronted mainly northern Europeans with a reality in which their countries had to take financial risks and show solidarity with countries mostly in Europe’s south, such as Greece, Spain and Portugal, which had followed irresponsible practices.
An earlier dramatic mistake was the European open border policy which let in millions of immigrants, many of whom came from non-democratic countries where anti-Semitism is far higher and more extreme than in Europe. Among those immigrants were Muslim proselytizers, both fanatics and otherwise.
For a long time, Israel has been a prism through which one can see the large number of blemishes on the face of Europe. More than 40% of Europeans think that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians, which means that it is a Nazi state. These people are extreme anti-Semites according to the definition that the E.U preferred to delete, rather than fight against the immense viciousness in their midst. Both the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Gatestone Institute have approached leading European politicians on this issue. The best answers they’ve received in return were empty words.
Perhaps the greatest stain on the European Parliament is the election of Udo Voigt of Germany’s neo-Nazi NPD Party. He considers Hitler “a great statesman” and suggested that the Führer’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, should have won the Nobel peace prize. He is joined by other anti-Semites, xenophobes, Holocaust deniers and many mainly progressive humanitarian racists who turn away from the incitement generated by genocidal Muslims. In this new parliament, they represent the many repulsive parts of Europe’s true face.
 Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Muslim Anti-Semitism in Europe,” Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism, volume 5, no. 1, 2013.
 Sam Sokol, “Jewish groups excoriate Denmark over legalized bestiality,” The Jerusalem Post, 3 April 2014.
 Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Dieren in opmars, joden op terugweg in Nederland,” Volkskrant, 19 April 2011 [Dutch].
“ ‘Working Definition’ of antisemitism abandoned by Europe,” CFCA, 29 November 2013.
 JTA, “Greek opposition drops candidate after Jewish rant,” Times of Israel, 10 February 2014.
 Associated Press, “Italy kingmaker's anti-Jewish views under scrutiny,” Ynetnews, 8 March 2013.
 Stefanie Bolzen, "Ich will, dass Europa die EU verlässt," Die Welt, 26 May 2014 [German].
 Remi Adekoya, Helena Smith, Lizzy Davies, Anne Penketh, and Philip Oltermann,"Meet the new faces ready to sweep into the European parliament,” The Guardian, 26 May 2014.