Is the European Right Israel’s Real Friend?
And who is European Muslims’ real enemy?
The ostensible right-wing Zionism in suspected Oslo killer Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto provided occasion to take stock of the broader allegiance between Islamophobic right-wing European parties and the Israeli right, and their marriage of convenience whose long-term prospects (I argued) are not particularly promising. In the New York Review of Books, Malise Ruthven, an expert in Islamic politics, goes further:
Breivik is far from alone in making this transition. The English Defence League— which is praised in Breivik’s document and with which he may have been in contact—strongly supports Israel as a bastion of western civilization facing the “totalitarian threat” of Islamic fundamentalism. Israeli flags are now waved routinely at demonstrations mounted by the EDL in places of high Muslim concentration. Right-wing parties, such as the National Front in France, Vlaams Belang in Belgium, and the Austrian Freedom Party are now forming links with the governing Israeli Likud (led by premier Bibi Netanyahu) and its coalition partner Yisrael Beiteinu (led by foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman).
As Ayoob Kara, a deputy Israeli minister for development who is actively promoting these contacts, told the Israeli daily Maariv in June, “I am looking for ways to lessen the Islamic influence in the world. I believe that is the true Nazism in this world. I am the partner of everyone who believes in the existence of this war.” His sentiments are echoed by Eliezer Cohen, a former member of the Knesset with Yisrael Beiteinu in a recent interview with Spiegel Online: “Right-wing politicians in Europe are more sensitive to the dangers facing Israel. They are talking exactly the same language as Likud and others on the Israeli right.”
I argued that a close look at these parties’ Zionism reveals a disdain for many Jews and the same DNA that led past European reactionaries to advocate the destruction of world Jewry.
Ruthven goes on to make a fascinating point concerning the fact that, if contemporary Islamophobia and earlier anti-Semitism share much, they nonetheless are not simply different variations on the same theme. And the chief difference is that today’s Muslims are poisoned by putrid Islamism from governments and communities outside of Europe who have neither Europe’s nor European Muslims’ best interests at heart. “Before the recent atrocity,” Ruthven recounts,
a group of Muslims residing in a major Norwegian city sought permission to build a mosque. They explained that the biggest part of their funding—around $3 million—would come from Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. The municipal authorities—backed by the Norwegian government—turned them down.
This was not Islamophobia, but a wise decision that should be emulated throughout the West. The construction of mosques, which serve as community centers as well as places of worship, is to be welcomed when the funding comes from sources that are accountable to communities that use them. When that funding comes from the state that produced fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 terrorists (and whose intelligence services may even have been implicated in the attack), or from other religious sources that preach hatred or disdain for “infidels,” the authorities have every right to refuse.