In Europe, the extreme right approaches Israel

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By FLAVIO AGUIAR*

The most striking case of the European far-right's support for Israel came from the Spanish Vox, which declares itself heir to Falangist Francoism and even the Knights Templar of the Middle Ages

The war in the Middle East is causing a greater tilt of the axis of much of the European far right towards the Israeli side of the conflict.

The most striking case of this trend is that of the leader of National Gathering [National Meeting] French, Marine Le Pen. In statements to the press and in the National Parliament, she expressed her unrestricted support for Israel's survival and its “right to self-defense”.

Jordan Bardella, the president of National Gathering, he added: “For many French Jews, the National Meeting represents a shield against Islamist ideology.”

Critics of the French leader see her movement as an attempt – which they describe as “demagogic” – to erase the party's anti-Semitic past, when it was called the “National Front” and was led by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, convicted in trials for minimize the Holocaust. They point out that she is targeting the 2027 presidential election, when the current president, Emmanuel Macron, will not be able to run, since the French Constitution prohibits the holding of more than two consecutive presidential terms. And remember that from election to election the votes for Marine Le Pen have been growing continuously.

In Italy, the party leader Alloy, Matteo Salvini, also from the extreme right, also positioned himself alongside Israel in a demonstration he called in the city of Milan. He was cautious in stating that “the enemy is not Islam, but Islamist extremism”.

In Hungary there were no surprises. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is a longtime ally not only of Israel, but of the Israeli right, and an ardent defender of “European civilization.” And it was quick to declare that any demonstration that supported “Hamas terrorism” would be banned. Likewise, he highlighted that there should be humanitarian aid for the civilian population of Gaza.

The most striking case of this far-right support for Israel came from the Spanish Vox, which declares itself heir to Falangist Francoism and even the Knights Templar of the Middle Ages. The party's general secretary, Ignacio Garrido, accused the socialist government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Yolanda Diaz, the leader of Sumar, a left-wing coalition that supports the government, of allegedly “justifying” the Hamas attacks.

The leader of Vox, deputy Santiago Abascal, went so far as to say that “if possible, terrorists should be killed before they kill innocent people”, in a line reminiscent of the film Minority Report, in which potential criminals were “neutralized” before they committed their supposed crimes. Vox also committed to presenting a bill to Parliament banning immigration from “countries of Islamic culture until their integration can be ensured”, whatever that means.

In Germany the situation was a little more complex. At the Bundestag, the Federal Parliament, the leader of the AfD, alternative for Germany, Alexander Gauland, declared that “Hamas’ attack didn’t just hit Israel, it hit us too; Israel is the West in a neighborhood that rejects and fights the West.” The president of the AfD party, Tino Chrupalla, condemned the attack but highlighted that the time is “for diplomacy”. Other party members criticized his statement, including a group calling itself “Jews with the AfD”. It should be noted that recently members of the party were accused and prosecuted as simultaneously defending anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

An observation: largely, rhetorical exaggerations aside, these positions of far-right parties in Europe do not differ substantially from the positions of most European rulers and European Union authorities, although the latter put more emphasis on humanitarian concerns regarding to civilians in Gaza. However, they point to the search for broader support in the countries where those far-right parties operate.

On the other hand, racist activities, whether anti-Semitic, Islamophobic or others, involve the participation of countless small clandestine cells, whose often violent behavior will certainly be reinforced by the circumstances of war.

* Flavio Aguiar, journalist and writer, is a retired professor of Brazilian literature at USP. Author, among other books, of Chronicles of the World Upside Down (boitempo). [https://amzn.to/48UDikx]

Originally published on the website of Radio France International


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