Sometimes you get support from an unexpected, and also undesired corner. In Europe, Israel has nowadays been deserted by most of its former left-wing supporters, and is instead embraced by some right-wing politicians with an unkosher agenda. Philip Dewinter of the Belgian right-extremist Vlaams Belang
('Flemish Interest') calls himself a friend of Israel and considers Jews to be allies in the struggle against Islam. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz cited Dewinter:
"There is a common interest between Jewish and Flemish people in the struggle against Islam in Europe ... The Jews are our brothers-in-arms in the battle against extremist Islam in Antwerp."
Fine. And who will follow after the Moslems have been driven out? The answer is not hard to find, since several founders and MPs of the Vlaams Belang
, including Dewinter himself, have in the past attended memorial meetings for Nazis and collaborators, and some of them were themselves 'wrong during the war'. A number of them started their careers in the openly anti-Semitic Flemish neo-Nazi movement. In its attempt to become 'salonfšhig'
(respectable), the Vlaams Belang
has been avoiding being too openly associated with such groups and ideas, and party members who openly voice anti-Semitic ideas are sacked. However the acceptance of the Jewish community in Belgium is conditional:
The brochure "10 Prejudices against the Vlaams Belang" moderately stated that "the Jewish community causes no problems, does not indulge in crime and does not force itself onto our own community and culture."
The rapidly growing Arab minority in Belgium is viewed as the major threat to the Flemish nation and unity. From the beginning the party's slogan "Eigen volk eerst"
(Own people first) has spoken volumes. This contradicts the equality principle anchored in the country's constitution, even though certain minorities (the Jews) are left alone at present, and are even played up to, to gain their support in the struggle against other minorities.
Arab anti-Semitism, which has lead to violent incidents in several European cities in recent years, could turn Jews into a possible ally for right extremists, allowing them to skillfully cleanse their image of racism. Surely, someone who supports Jews cannot be a racist? Nevertheless it is improbable that Dewinter got the broad support from Jews that he had hoped for. To quote an Antwerp Jew
, Jeremy Sulzbacher: "Vlaams Belang doesn't convince Jewish people. Once they've finished with the Muslims and the North Africans, who will they start on next? They'll start on us, the Jews."
Despite the fact that right-wing parties in Europe are generally more supportive of Israel than left-wing parties, and that some look for the support of Jews in their fight against Islam, Jews do not generally vote more for right-wing parties than others do. In fact a majority of the Jews in the USA support the Democratic Party. Both in Europe and in the US many Jews are active in leftist and social movements. It is sometimes forgotten, but the ' founding fathers' of Israel came mainly from the socialist-Zionist movement. Right-wing parties came to power in Israel only in 1977, more than 25 years after its founding. The affiliation of the right with pro-Israel viewpoints and of the left with pro-Palestinian/Arab viewpoints, has no logical connection with the values that the right and the left each support.
The connection of the Palestinian and Arab cause with the left, and the Israeli cause with the right, stems from the Cold War, when the Soviet Union supported the Arab states and the US supported Israel. Most of the so-called 'unaligned countries' (such as Cuba, some Latin American countries and many African countries) are on the side of the Arab states, in exchange for Arab support for their struggle against 'American imperialism'. This secures a majority vote for any anti-Israel resolution in the General Assembly of the UN.
George W. Bush' 'War on Terrorism', his classification of the world in good and evil countries (the 'Axis of Evil'), the 'Clash of Civilizations' and more of such rhetoric, drives many on the left into the camp of the Arabs. The USA is considered to be Israel's unconditional ally, which justifies anything Israel does, like it also justifies Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, all in the fight against terrorism of course. It is only logical that - especially - the left opposes such arrogance, coming from the country that carries the blame for hundreds of thousands of deaths in Vietnam, is held responsible for the death of Allende in Chile, and conducted a war against the Sandinistas of Nicaragua, all in the fight against the 'Red Menace' of course.
However, a large part of the left now makes the same mistake that the US makes: in their fight against imperialism, they downplay the threat of Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Castro, Hezbollah and Hamas. These are every bit as despicable as the right-wing dictatorships that the US did and does support in its fight against communism or in its current fight against 'global terrorism'. Confrontational thinking and blindness towards the 'enemies of our enemy' are unfortunately not an exclusive fault of the right.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has thus become an issue of right versus left, in which the radical left glosses over dictatorships and movements that frequently pour out vile anti-Semitic propaganda, and the right, even the extreme right, supports the only Jewish state because it fights against Arabs. Both sides use improper arguments to form strange coalitions.
The left, considering its affinity with the oppressed and its support for the right to self-determination of all peoples (which has been written down in the Human Rights Declaration), should certainly support the Jewish right to self-determination, and should strongly condemn Arab anti-Semitism like any other form of anti-Semitism. The left should not close its eyes for the support that Arab leaders gave to the Nazis during the war, especially in view of the current Arab anti-Semitism. They should be horrified by the fundamentalist-religious views of Hezbollah and Hamas in regard to women, homosexuals and other minorities, and the way these views are brought into practice in for example Iran and Saudi Arabia. They should detest and denounce suicide attacks, which are aimed at killing as many innocent civilians as possible. Only then could their harsh criticism of Israeli aggression be credible, and suit their self-proclaimed role as peace brokers.
The right, which claims to defend Western values, should itself apply the tolerance and freedom and self-criticism it expects from other countries and communities. They should support the emancipation of gays and other minorities in the West, on which they so eagerly criticize Islamic countries. They should actively oppose anti-Semitism in the West, and wholeheartedly acknowledge the wrongs that the West perpetrated in past and present against Jews and other peoples, as they so enthusiastically criticize Arab states for their past and present wrongdoings. They should support Israel primarily because Jews are entitled to a state, not because Israel is a convenient ally in their fight against Arabs and Muslims. Ratna Pelle
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Replies: 3 Comments
"..Both sides use improper arguments to form strange coalitions..."
well as long as they are supporting Israel it should be welcomed.
I think left operates from a high ground where it sees no threat to 'its people' and then goes on to support the 'weak' (perceived). So left supports Arabs/Muslims. Right is exact opposite of it. Right sees a threat to Europe. Probably the threat to Jewish community elsewhere is not to the extent of existence anymore. Israel exists today. So they should align with the right. with this they may be able to mould the right wing opinions too. why shun them altogether? By the way if trouble comes to others after Arabs because of Europe right, it wont be for Jews. Itll be for Hindus!!
anyways these silly European states r in serious trouble where they have to go back to the process of 'creation'. Right creates. then comes wealth and security. and then comes left to distribute it.
But instead of states like Belgium and Sweden, Israel needs to focus more on Russia/China.
Anubhav, Thursday, October 26th
good article but i question the author's assertion that left wing sympathies for the arab cause stem from cold war alignments. rather, i think it far more likely that the source of the left's alignment with the arab side comes from the success of the plo and its successors to frame their dispute with israel in terms of liberation politics/theology.
by painting israel as racist occupiers in the colonial sense, the plo was successful in co-opting the left into viewing the conflict as a legitimate struggle between an occupying army and an oppressed, native underclass. such a framework continues to resonate with the modern left. the classical, big power clash between the west and the iron curtain long ago ceased having much meaning for today's left. that the alignments are similar - israel and the west/israel and the right vs the arabs and the soviet bloc/the arabs and today's left - is largely circumstantial, not causal. it is a testament to arafat's brilliant ability to manipulate the western press by painting and selling a consistent picture of arab victimizaton at the hands of the overwhelmingly powerful and "racist" israelis.
Robert Honeyman, Wednesday, October 18th
I am completely agreed with the author. The affiliation of the right
with pro-Israel viewpoints and of the left with pro-Palestinian/Arab
viewpoints is one of the most widespread delusions of our days. The
article halps to debunk this delusion.
Alex Rudkevich, Tuesday, October 17th
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