“it’s always heartwarming to see a prejudice defeated by a deeper prejudice.”
— Lone Star
On the heels of the Jewish Defence League’s rally in support of the fascist English Defence League comes the news that the JDL and Meir Weinstein is cozying up with another group of extremists – none other than the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO). You may remember their founder late, longtime leader Jörg Haider who praised Waffen-SS veterans, praised the Nazis, described concentration camps as “punishment camps” and compared the wartime deportation of Austria’s Jews to concentration camps to the postwar expulsion of Sudentland Germans from Czechoslovakia. The Freedom Party’s entry into Austria’s ruling coalition government in 2000 resulted in a widespread diplomatic boycott of the country.
Well, it seems that as much as the FPO hates Jews, they hate Muslims more and that’s good enough for the JDL and Meir Weinstein who seems to be working under the rallying call “Muslim-haters of the world unite!” Of course, it’s not only the JDL that is building links with fascist parties, Israel’s ruling Likud Party is as well. Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara visited Austria at the invitation of the FPO late last year. All this is in spite of the fact that as recently as last April, an FPO candidate found herself in hot water for making “ambiguous statements about the Holocaust and criticism of Austria’s tough 1947 anti-Nazi law.” The Archbishop of Vienna weighed in to say “Someone who questions the National Socialism prohibition law and fails to make clear statements regarding the Holocaust is not an option for me personally.”
Words fail to describe the irony when a party condemned by a Catholic Archbishop for its anti-Semitism is embraced by the JDL or Likud who are quite happy to overlook a little bit of Judenhasse as long as the party in question supports Israel against the Palestinians because while they hate Jews, they hate Muslims so much more.
65 years after the end of World War II, European fascists have come to learn that campaigning on anti-Semitism is now a non-starter. The Jewish population of Europe is a fraction of what it once was due to the Nazi genocide and emigration and most of the Jews who remain are assimilated to the degree that they are indistinguishable from other Europeans. Furthermore, the right used to associate Jews with Communism and use that association to argue that Jews posed a dire threat to European civilization. The fall of the Soviet Union has removed the Communist spectre from Europe and, in any case, Jews today tend to be more conservative then previous generations, so trying to build a xenophobic wave with fear of Jews as its centrepiece does not hold the potential it would have had 80 years ago. Fear of Muslims however, that has potential to light a mass panic, and so today’s fascist parties from Britain to Holland to France to Germany have put anti-Semitism on the back shelf in favour of Islamophobia and some, like the EDL, the Dutch Freedom Party and now the Austrian Freedom Party have gone as far as embracing the Israeli right and the Zionist right, is happy to return the embrace.