Extremist Jewish factions and far-right parties team up against "Islamisation" despite the latter's anti-Semitic past.
Right-wing movements previously associated with anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi ideologies are increasingly opting for a surprising tactic to garner legitimacy within mainstream politics: Forging alliances with extremist Jewish organisations under the banner of fighting "Islamisation".
"Far-right parties are professing a new found love of Israel as a way of escaping their past anti-Semitism and racism, and to justify their prejudice towards European Muslims as not being racist," Toby Archer, a researcher who studies far-right parties and the "counter-jihad blogosphere", explained to Al Jazeera. "Parties like the British National Party (BNP) in the UK, Vlaams Belang in Belgium, and the National Front in France are all coming out from a neo-fascist past."
These parties have stopped using anti-Semitic rhetoric, Archer said, which had prevented them from attracting support. It is important to distinguish between the traditional far-right, who are historically anti-Semitic, and the populist new-right, who have emerged in the last two decades and partake in an anti-Muslim discourse, he said.
The English Defence League (EDL) closely linked to the BNP, a right-wing anti-Islamic extremist group based in the UK. The EDL has gained notoriety for its aggression against British Muslims and its links with neo-Nazi groups. Last year, it moved to garner support within the Jewish community by officially opening a Jewish Division open to "represent the Jews who are fighting against Islamisation," according to a statement.
Tommy Robinson, a spokesperson for the EDL, said one of the group's fundamental beliefs was that as a "shining star of democracy", Israel has the right to defend itself.
Yet a number of recent demonstrations held by the EDL have continued to be marked by anti-Semitic rhetoric, critics say. In a 2010 demonstration held in Cardiff, EDL members burnt anti-Nazi flags.
BNP leader Nick Griffin has referred to the Holocaust as "the Holohoax" and was convicted in 1998 for distributing material likely to incite racial hatred. He has voiced his support for the EDL and its members. Griffin believes that the EDL is helping politicise young people in the UK. "At least they're trying to do something," he said of the EDL. "It's crude and a bit rough… but we shouldn't condemn them for being a bit rough and ready..."
Signs of lingering anti-Semitism within the UK's far-right have not stopped the Jewish Defence League (JDL), a group the US Federal Bureau of Investigation considers a "violent extremist organisation", from eagerly accepting a partnership with the EDL.... Samuel Ghiles Meilhac, a historian who specialises in the French Jewish community, told Al Jazeera that there has been a distinct shift in the community from its previous alignment with the left towards the right.
While representatives of mainstream Jewish organisations are not associated with right-wing parties like the National Front at the moment, Meilhac thinks this could change. In recent years, the National Front has been pandering to Jewish voters by focusing on a "common enemy: the Islamisation of Europe".
"Most people who are part of the Jewish mainstream in France remember the 1970s and 1980s when the National Front were making jokes about what happened in World War II," Meilhac said. "But the question is: If the extreme right doesn't make references to the Jews now, will there still be people in the Jewish mainstream powerful enough to reject them?"
Full article: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/fea...638252910.html