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Published on 30 May 2014

Far-right parties sweeping EU vote should serve as warning sign

By Asaf Ronel, published in Haaretz May 27, 2014

The shared fear of Muslims has not yet led major Jewish organizations to lift their boycotts against dubious politicians in far-right parties.

The investigation of Sunday’s shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussel is still ongoing, and assessments regarding the motive are varied, but Belgian authorities say the attack, which is being investigated as a terror incident, has anti-Semitic characteristics.

Until all the details are known, the act of violence in the heart of Europe joins the successes of the far right across Europe in Sunday’s elections for the European Parliament in painting a difficult picture for Europe’s Jews.

The official seat of the European Parliament is in Strasbourg, but most of its activity takes place in Brussels. In the next five years the city’s Jewish community can expect to encounter politicians from all over Europe with very controversial opinions.

Still, a meticulous examination of the election results does not point to a wave of anti-Semitism sweeping the continent.

The National Front in France is sending 24 members to Strasbourg. Britain’s UK Independence Party, members of which have been caught making repeated racist remarks, won 24 seats.

Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn enters the European Parliament for the first time, with three seats- one seat more than the Sweden Democrats, another party with neo-Nazi roots that has undergone a drastic image change in recent years — concealing most of its ultranationalist characteristics, but not its opposition to immigration.

The extreme-right, anti-immigration Danish People’s Party won 26 percent of the votes, making it the largest party in Denmark.

But in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party lost ground, as did Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, which lost one of its two representatives. Austria’s Freedom Party doubled its strength, to four seats, however.

And, for the first time, Germany’s neo-Nazi NPD is sending a representative to Brussels: Udo Voigt, who recently told Reuters, “We say Europe is the continent of white people and it should remain that way.”

Despite Sunday’s election gains for far-right parties, according to the latest report on the issue by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, published last month, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe actually declined last year.

The center, at Tel Aviv University, is headed by Prof. Dina Porat. And while the Anti-Defamation League’s Global 100 Index found that 24 percent of Western Europeans held anti-Semitic attitudes, it is hard to find a direct link to the election results.

The index scores in France and the United Kingdom, where far-right parties swept the EU polls, were 37 percent and 8 percent, respectively. And Greece and Sweden, both of which voted to send parties with a neo-Nazi past to Strasbourg for the first time, were on either end of the Global 11 Index, at 69 percent and 4 percent, respectively… Lire la suite.

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