Israel and the Fascists of Europe: the Boycott Fades Out

Initially it was done quietly, under the radar. In the recent years it has intensified and became public: a number of right-wing Israeli entities are strengthening their ties with far-right parties and movements in Europe. Israeli right-wing members of Knesset and politicians openly meet with representatives of neo-fascist parties such as Flemish Interest from Belgium, Freedom Party of Austria, and even Alternative for Germany – the far-right party that will now enter for the first time the German parliament.

 Officially, Israel still boycotts these movements. Not necessarily because the Israeli government today has a significant problem with these parties – generally they are quite similar to the Israeli ones.  It is rather because of the violent history of the European far right, and particularly because of the strong opposition of the Jewish communities who fear the rise of fascists and anti-Semites. Nevertheless, the relationships are cultivated, and the Israeli boycott is waning.

The far right in Europe needs Israel and Jews for a simple reason: to gain legitimacy. “Look,” they say to those who accuse them of racism and anti-Semitism, “even in Israel they support us.”

And what do Israeli right-wingers look for in these parties? First of all, they identify with xenophobia, Islamophobia, and the anti-democratic approach, which drives the far right in Europe. Beyond that, they receive support for settlements that no other European entity is willing to give.

This is why more and more right-wing elements are cultivating ties with the fascists in Europe, while the latter take pride in having Israeli friends, clearing themselves of accusations of anti-Semitism. They are so enthralled by each other, that it is no longer clear who is spreading the disease and who is infected by it.

This rapprochement is bad for Israel. The far right in Europe is boycotted by all European right and left-wing parties. Turning to the far right not only legitimizes those whose methods and ideas have caused the greatest harm to the Jewish people, but is also a severe blow to the Jews of today’s Europe. They look anxiously at efforts of racist movements in their countries to reproach Israel and urge it to reject these attempts.

Granting validity and legitimacy by Israel to the far right, which is still a marginal factor in European politics and is in a sharp conflict with the political establishment, is liable to cause substantial damage to the important relations with Europe. Much of Europe’s political argument against the far right is that its methods have already led the continent to a terrible disaster. If Israel, the state of the Jewish people, embraces parties that espouse xenophobia and discrimination, it could be seen as a “proof” that these parties have seemingly changed. This is precisely why they yearn for Israeli legitimacy, and why Israel must not grant it to them. This could seriously harm Israel’s standing. It would be an unforgivable move.

Published by Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies.

The full article: Israel and the european far-right

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