Article Library / 2015

2014-2015 Annual Assessment

Again, as Antony Lerman put it, “the last thing [European Jews] would have envisaged is finding themselves in the company of the far right.” And indeed, regardless of how carefully it is put, xenophobia and philo-Semitism are ontologically incompatible. Yet, for the State of Israel, pragmatic partnerships with pro-Israel “new radical right” and Christian fundamentalist parties may align with Israeli national interests. And, against the backdrop of a widely spread de-legitimization campaign in Europe, the Jewish state may not have the luxury of being too selective in enlisting allies. Still, at the moment, there is no urgent need to engage with far-right populist parties as they are not currently in power. Jewish communities should avoid responding to their advances and refrain from whitewashing them. As long as their political program intends to limit Jewish practices, and thus cripple communal life, the numerous Jews who support these parties may be regarded as shortsighted. This is said without equivocation in regard to the old far-right parties that espouse anti-Semitism, deny the Holocaust, and champion Israel’s enemies. But it also applies to what we may call the “old far-right parties that claim to have severed ties with their anti-Semitic past.” And in our estimation, this also applies to the pro-Israel, anti-Islam “new radical-right” parties. To quote Dave Rich, the British Jews’ Community Security Trust spokesperson: “The trouble with populism is that you always know where you start but never know where you end up. Populism is just another name for slippery slope.”16

Europe is today at a crossroads, and as of now we do not know whether it will become more open to diversity or more closed to it. The Jewish people and the State of Israel must be prepared to confront all possible scenarios.

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