Anti-Semites of the World, Unite!
Anti-Semitism is spilling onto the streets of Europe once again, fostered by extremists at both ends of the political spectrum– to the bewilderment of media and politicians alike.
When 17,000 demonstrators marched through Paris on 26 January, 2014, as part of a “Day of Rage” protest against the government of French President François Hollande, the European press paid virtually no attention to a section of the march that chanted, “Jews, France is not yours … Jews out of France … Jew, Jew, Jew.”
A considerable number of protesters were apparently attending the march in support of the French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, inventor of the quenelle – a gesture based on the Heil Hitler salute. His most famous joke is about French Jewish journalist Patrick Cohen: “When I hear him talking, I say to myself: Patrick Cohen, hmm… the gas chambers… what a shame.”
The journalist Anthony Clavane observed in the New Statesman:
“On the far right, as would be expected, he was fêted as a truth-teller… Less expected, perhaps, has been his growing attraction to the kinds of people who stick, or once stuck, Che [Guevara] posters on their bedroom walls. …His attacks on Jewish capitalism and riffs about ripping out Holocaust chapters from history books have been hailed as taboo-breaking by those professing themselves to be radical, anti-establishment leftists. What is new today is the appeal of this race-hate discourse to a fashionable, anti-globalisation, up-yours, them-and-us (“them” frequently being Jewish financiers and Holocaust memorialisers) coalition of radical Islamists, hip middle-class white Parisians, alienated black youth and Jewish-world-domination conspiracy theorists.”
One protestor explained to the BBC:“[Dieudonné] is not anti-Semitic… He has broken a taboo of speaking against the Holocaust and the victimization which is imposed upon us by a community.”
Diedonné’s documentary film, The Anti-Semite, part-funded by the Iranian regime, features the French academic and Holocaust denier Robert Faurrison, who was awarded a prize for “courage” by (then) Iranian President Ahmadinejad in 2006.
Dieudonné has expressed support for France’s Front Nationale (FN), a leading political force in France, and referred to almost universally by the media as a “far-Right party.” Dieudonné appeared at the Front Nationale’s annual fair in 2006.
The accepted political divisions are apparently no longer clear to much of the media. During the protest on January 26, activists from the FN refused to speak to the BBC journalist; they were claiming she was a “fascist, a nationalist, and not a democrat.”
The same BBC journalist asked one black protestor if he had voted for the FN, and was told, “Yes, of course, why not?” The journalist further explained that she had met protestors from other minorities who said they trusted the FN more than any other party – all of them said they were fans of Dieudonné.
The French author Philippe Auclair has noted: “Look at the composition of Dieudonné’s audiences. There are people from the far right, but also from the far left. People on the margins. There are Green extremists and radical Muslims.”
Dieudonné has successfully brought together two seemingly opposite ends of the political spectrum in the promotion of anti-Zionism and open hostility towards Jews.
It seems to be working. In nationwide local elections recently held in France, the FN gained control of eleven towns across France and made “significant gains” elsewhere.
Once “far-left” activists align themselves with Dieudonné, the National Front is the natural next step. Yonathan Arfi, vice president of France’s Jewish umbrella group CRIF, notes: “The National Front is categorized clearly as an extreme right party, but in the last few years it has been able to attract voters who previously used to vote for the extreme left.”
European anti-Semitism is emerging once again as a broadly held hatred. While alone, these groups seem immaterial; together, in collaboration, they start to represent a considerable section of the public voice: the chant of the mob, the radicalism of the student or the lesson from the pulpit.
In theory, of course, this collaboration is not so great a surprise: one set of hatreds looks much the same as another. In practice, though, the so-called European “far-Left” has previously been treated by the media and political establishment as an entirely different entity – it is even, on occasion, treated with approval.
Scores of MPs, for example, including the British Prime Minister, are signatories to a British organization named “Unite Against Fascism” [UAF], which claims to campaign against the British far-Right. The UAF’s Assistant Secretary, Martin Smith is a vocal supporter of Gilad Atzmon, a Holocaust denier who has argued that burning down synagogues is a “rational act.” Peter Tatchell, a prominent gay rights campaigner, has noted: “The UAF commendably opposes the British National Party and English Defence League but it is silent about Islamist fascists who promote anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism and sectarian attacks on non-extremist Muslims.”
While those who associate themselves with the far-Left proclaim a dedication to “fighting fascism,” and those who belong to groups described as “far-Right” frequently express rage over the evils of “communism and anarchism”; Dieudonné, however, has apparently given focus to these disparate groups – a single menace over which to express hatred with one voice: the Jews.
This, at least, appears to be the sad truth that some European commentators have finally stumbled upon. Collusion between groups and individuals typically described as “far-Right” and “far-Left” is, of course, nothing new. Only now, this profane alliance is simply become more apparent.
The journalist Elentir Vigo, for example, recently noted that some officials within FEMEN, the exhibitionist feminist protest group founded in Ukraine in 2008, are closely connected to “ultranationalist and anti-Semitic” Ukrainian groups. Despite this, FEMEN activists are regularly featured in Marxist publications.
Britain’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign, as another example, was established by the International Marxist Group and activists from the Socialist Workers’ Party. Despite this clear basis in far-Left politics, Palestine Solidarity Campaign representative and Green Party official Pippa Bartolotti has been photographed with Palestine Solidarity Campaign memorabilia while holding the swastika flag of the Syrian neo-Nazi group, the SSNP. The SSNP was founded in 1932, the same year that the German Nazi party gained 230 seats in the Reichstag. As The Atlantic has noted, it pays frequent homage to 1930s European Nazism.
Furthermore, activists from the Scottish branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign have frequently promoted material from websites associated with the far-Right. In 2008, Edinburgh Palestinian Solidarity Campaign chair Mick Napier approvingly referenced a number of neo-Nazi websites in an article that sought to justify the murder by Palestinian terrorists of eight Jewish students at Mercaz HaRav, a Jerusalem yeshiva.
In early February, the Stop the War Coalition – described by journalist Nick Cohen as a “front organization” for the Socialist Workers Party — published an article by the writer Alison Weir, which claimed that the murder of Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics was justified because of Israel’s “ethnically cleansing much of the indigenous Palestinian population.”
Weir’s article was originally published by Counterpunch, an extremist website condemned as a “neo-Nazi magazine” by anti-racism bloggers. Counterpunch has previously posted an article by Alison Weir which claims Jews were responsible for the ritual murders of non-Jews – an invocation of the ancient blood libel.
Moreover, Tillawi, according to the Anti-Defamation League, has appeared at a conference with a number of “prominent anti-Semites on the American far right”, and organized by Jamaat al-Muslimeen, an Islamist group that “promotes Holocaust denial and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.” Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. Attorney General and leader of the “far-left International Action Center,” also spoke at the conference.
Some collaboration between “far-Left” and “far-Right” operatives sometimes occurs through a mutual admiration for pro-terror and anti-Semitic foreign regimes. British MP George Galloway, for instance, is vice-President of the Stop the War Coalition and an ardent defender of the Syrian regime. His unlikely bedfellow is none other than Nick Griffin, leader of Britain’s “far-Right” British National Party, who recently visited Syria as a guest of President Assad, where Griffin expressed support for the murderous Syrian regime.
The collusion is not solely limited to politicians and political activists. David Miller, as another example, is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Bath. Miller is the founder and editor of various online publications, such as PowerBase, Neocon Europe, SpinWatch and SpinProfiles – all of which claim to document and expose “right wing” lobbyists who are most influential on government policy. Critics have charged Miller with focusing almost exclusively on Jewish groups while ignoring (and often defending) extreme Islamist groups.
One of Miller’s websites – which has received taxpayer’s money and employs Miller’s PhD students – Neocon Europe, has been criticised for publishing the works of Kevin MacDonald, a notorious white supremacist and anti-Semite. MacDonald’s work included a racial eugenics list which outlined the “characteristics of Jewish intellectual movements.” Other conspiracy theories promoted on Miller’s websites include those of prominent Neocon Europe contributor Idrees Ahmed, who claims that the Darfur crisis has been prolonged by a powerful Jewish lobby.
David Miller himself is a supporter of Raed Saleh, and even spoke in his defence when Saleh was tried in a British court. Saleh is a leading supporter of Hamas, and is notorious for his anti-Semitic and homophobic views. Saleh has claimed Jews were complicit in the 9/11 attacks and that those who killed the “Martyr, Sheikh Osama Bin Laden” had “sold their consciences to Satan.”
Does the popularity of Dieudonné M’bala M’bala demonstrate that there is indeed little difference between the far-Right and the far-Left, and that the political spectrum, as some suggest, is in fact a circle; or perhaps it is that hatred of Jews is able to transcend all political divide and religious difference? These are timeworn ideas; but certainly, one slogan rings ominously loud and clear: Anti-Semites of the World, Unite!