The far right’s new appeal should not be dismissed easily. It presents European Jewry and Israel with a thorny dilemma: Should Jews accept the extended hand of West Europe’s far right? While most Israeli politicians, together with the leaders of European Jewry, have so far rebuked these gestures, some have embraced them warmly.
Local Jews, subjected to Muslim anti-Semitism on a daily basis, are divided on this issue. In France, according to an IFOP poll survey, some 4 percent of French Jews have voted for Jean Marie Le Pen in 2007, 13.5 percent have voted for the far right in 2014 European Parliament elections, and 20 percent are expected to vote for Marine Le Pen in 2017.14 For the moment, Jewish official institutions have avoided public contact with her and have not responded to her wooing.
In response to these developments, Antony Lerman, former director of the London-based Jewish Policy Research Institute (JPR), has characterized the perplexity of liberal Jews as follows: “Many Israel-supporting Jews with progressive political views now find themselves between a rock and a hard place. As supporters of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and opposed to settlements and the occupation, the last thing they would have envisaged is finding themselves in the company of the far right, whether in Europe or in Israel. And yet many such Jews are convinced that the threat of a left-wing+Islamist ‘new anti-Semitism’ is severe and in maintaining their Zionism or pro-Israelism are simply stuck with unsavory allies. Some Jews have simply chosen to cut themselves loose from their traditional progressive moorings. Others who simply refuse to join the anti-Muslim bandwagon and reject the post-9/11 Clash of Civilizations-type choice – ‘you’re either with us or against us’– they feel they are faced with are left high and dry.”15