Zionism's Collaboration with Nazi Germany is not just a matter of history
Yet today, as the three following articles from Ha’aretz and Electronic Intifada show, there is a symbiosis between Zionism and far-Right and neo-Nazi parties. The condemnation of the new German Alternative for Germany party by Israeli leaders has been conspicuous by its absence. Not only Likud but the Israeli Labour Party has remained silent, thus demonstrating that all wings of Zionism are complicit.
As Anshel Pfeffer explains, whereas in 2000 when the far-Right Freedom Party entered the Austrian government the Israeli Ambassador was withdrawn from Vienna, today it merits barely a ripple. The leader of the FP, Herr Strache is welcomed to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Propaganda Museum. If there was ever an insult to the dead of the Holocaust it is in the tribute that neo-Nazis pay at a supposed Institute to commemorate the Holocaust dead.
Of course the diaspora Jewish communities realise, however hesitatingly that Israel’s courting of their own far-Right and anti-Semitic parties bodes ill for them. Unfortunately the grip of Zionism is such that relatively few in these communities come to the conclusion that Zionism and anti-Semitism are twins in kind and that a fight against anti-Semitism includes a fight against Zionism.
But once again we see how Zionism and the Far-Right have much in common because the neo-Nazis see Israel as a model state. Israel is an ethno-nationalist state in which Arabs are barely tolerated guests in the State of Israel. That is exactly the situation that these parties desire in respect of their own Muslim populations. That is why Richard Spencer, leader of the Alt-Right in the USA can declare that he is a White Zionist. What after all is there not to like, if you are a neo-Nazi in Israel?
Netanyahu wants the right to speak as the representative of all Jews. But in America and Europe, he's abandoned all pretense of solidarity with them
Oct 27, 2017 8:11 AM
|Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the opening of the winter session of the Knesset in Jerusalem. October 23, 2017 RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS|
The center-right Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) had just formed a new coalition government with Jörg Haider's Freedom Party (FPÖ). For the first time since World War II, a far-right political party, whose members commemorated and respected its Nazi roots, was to be a member of a European government.
Haider himself wasn't a member of the new government, and the chancellor was the moderate Wolfgang Schüssel, but there was simply no question: Israel would not engage with such a government. The Israeli ambassador was withdrawn from Vienna and diplomatic relations with Austria remained at their lowest level for the next five years, until a new government was formed - without the Freedom Party.
Fast-forward to this month, and the election victory of 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, the current ÖVP leader and soon-to-be chancellor. Kurz is almost certainly going to form his new coalition with the Freedom Party. Major Jewish organizations, including the World Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League, have called on Kurz to reconsider.
|Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party, at an anti-Muslim demonstration in Vienna. 14 May 2009Wikimedia|
"We are not convinced the Freedom Party has fully outgrown its Nazi roots. We join the Austrian Jewish community in asking Sebastian Kurz to keep the Freedom Party out of government," said the ADL's Jonathan Greenblatt. The Jewish community in Austria expressed its own concern in strong terms, urging Kurz to drop the Freedom Party. One prominent Jewish leader said Kurz's party was "deceiving itself" if it thought it would tame the "nationalist wolf" of the FPO.
But despite the concerns of Austrian Jewry, one, prominent Jewish leader has already given Kurz carte blanche.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t wait to find out with whom Kurz will decide to form his coalition. The day after the Austrian election, he was already on the phone to Kurz to congratulate him.
He succeeded in surprising even Israel’s long-suffering diplomats. "Standard procedure in such a case would have been to wait to see who is going to be in the coalition before calling to congratulate," said one veteran at Israel's Foreign Ministry.
Not only was Netanyahu broadcasting a message that Israel didn’t mind who Kurz appoints to his new government, he effectively 'kosher certified' even current FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache who - before becoming a 'respectable' politician - took part enthusiastically in neo-Nazi activities.
|Neo-Nazi leader of Austrian Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache at Yad Vashem. Olivier Fitoussi|
In the past, Israel has always adhered to a clear policy that it will not engage with political parties ostracized by the local Jewish community. The government of the Jewish state does not undermine Jews in their own countries and will not give any politician or party its stamp of approval unless they do so.
Netanyahu, however, has abandoned this policy. And Austria’s Jewish community is not the first he has betrayed.
Three months ago he did the same to Hungarian Jews. The leadership of the community in Budapest launched an international protest against the anti-Semitic nature of the Hungarian government’s campaign against Jewish financier George Soros. Israel’s ambassador, in line with long-standing policy, backed up the Hungarian Jews, sending a letter of protest to Prime Minister Viktor Orban. A day later, Netanyahu publicly and humiliatingly slapped down the ambassador, ordering him to retract his letter.
|File photo: Hungarian government poster portraying financier George Soros and saying "Don't let George Soros have the last laugh" is seen at an underground stop in Budapest, Hungary July 11, 2017. LASZLO BALOGH/REUTERS|
Netanyahu’s policy is pragmatic. Orban and Kurz are representatives of the wave of populist right-wing politics sweeping Europe, with which Likud feel comfortable. The leaders themselves are not suspected of anti-Semitism, quite the opposite. They have promised "zero tolerance" and profess staunch support for Israel.
Netanyahu sees them as his key allies in the European Union, a bulwark against the more critical voices coming from Scandinavia and western Europe. Some of their political allies may be unsavory, but Bibi is prepared to swallow them for his own diplomatic purposes. The local Jewish communities don’t have a say.
Not only is it pragmatic. Netanyahu’s policy is easily justified. He is the elected leader of Israel and must put its interests first. If he believes that Israel needs the friendship of Orban and Kurz so badly that it overrules the concerns of Hungarian and Austrian Jews, he has every right to make that call.
The only problem is, Netanyahu has insisted in the past that he is not only Israel’s prime minister, but that he represents all Jews around the world.
In February 2015, shortly after returning from Paris, where he took part in events in memory of Jews killed in terror attacks there, and just before he was about to fly off to address Congress, against Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, Netanyahu declared: "I went to Paris not just as the prime minister of Israel but as a representative of the entire Jewish people."
The elected leader of a country in which less than half the Jews of the world live (and only a quarter of them actually voted for him in the last election) wants the right to address the world as the representative of all Jews. And he won’t even check with them first.
|Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. In a speech that stirred political intrigue in two countries,AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite|
Twice the number of Jews voted for Barack Obama in 2012 than voted for Netanyahu’s Likud in 2015. That doesn’t mean for one moment that Netanyahu had to accept Obama’s policies. But he certainly had no right to speak "in the name of the entire Jewish people" when confronting Obama, who received more Jewish votes than any politician, anywhere, in history.
As Judy Maltz revealed this week in Haaretz, Netanyahu will not be addressing the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North American next month. Not in person, and probably not even over satellite link.
There are various explanations being given for Netanyahu’s highly irregular absence. He doesn’t want to share the limelight with this bitter rival President Reuven Rivlin, who will be in attendance. There are fears he may be booed by some of the delegates, angry at the way Netanyahu’s government has capitulated to the ultra-Orthodox parties at the expense of Reform and Conservative Jews.
One thing is clear, he is not very welcome there. And it’s not just a matter of political nuances between the leader of Israel’s right-wing and the liberal mainstream of American Jewry. Those have always existed in the past and have been papered over. The rift that Netanyahu has opened up with the Jews is much deeper than that.
In an era when Netanyahu wakes up with every morning with a feeling of relief that he no longer has to deal with the hostile Obama, while the great majority of American Jews are sinking in to ever-deepening despair at the forces of racism and bigotry being unleashed by Donald Trump, the president Netanyahu so eagerly embraces, it is impossible to talk of a joint destiny for Israelis and Diaspora Jews while he's in power.
For the first time in Israel’s history, its prime minister is visibly closer to the president of the United States than he is to American Jews. Over the past year, he has demonstrated time and again that his personal relationships with the Trumps and Orbans and Kurzs of this world are more precious to him than Israel’s ties to the Jews.
|Israel and its supporters have made alliances with racists, anti-Semites and Islamophobes all over Europe. (via Flickr)|
“Unfortunately, our worst fears have come true,” Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said of the electoral success in Sunday’s general election of Alternative for Germany.
Known by its German initials AfD, the extreme nationalist party won almost 100 seats in Germany’s lower house.
“A party that tolerates far-right views in its ranks and incites hate against minorities in our country is today not only in almost all state parliaments but also represented in the Bundestag,” Schuster said.
The party is notorious for harboring all manner of racists and extremists, including apologists for Germany’s war record and Holocaust revisionists.
It was a disaster that Germany’s mainstream politicians saw coming.
Sigmar Gabriel, the country’s foreign minister, warned earlier this month that if AfD scored well at the ballot box, “then we will have real Nazis in the German Reichstag for the first time since the end of World War II.”
Pro-Israel funder backs new NazisWhile Germany needs no lessons in how to be racist, this catastrophe can in part be attributed to leaders in Israel and their fanatical supporters: for years they have made common cause with Europe’s far right, demonizing Muslims as alien invaders who must be rejected and even expelled to maintain a mythical European purity.
It can also be attributed to German leaders who for decades have strengthened this racist Israel by financing Israel’s military occupation and oppression of Palestinians.
What happened in Germany is another facet of the white supremacist-Zionist alliance that has found a home in Donald Trump’s White House.
In the past few weeks, liberal flagships The New York Times and The Washington Post have been hunting for the nonexistent shadows of Russian interference in the German election.
Meanwhile, as Lee Fang reported for The Intercept, the Gatestone Institute, the think tank of major Islamophobia industry funder Nina Rosenwald, was flooding German social media with “a steady flow of inflammatory content about the German election, focused on stoking fears about immigrants and Muslims.”
The Gatestone Institute is chaired by John Bolton, the neoconservative former US diplomat notorious for his hawkish support of the invasion of Iraq.
Gatestone articles making claims about Christianity becoming “extinct” and warning about the construction of mosques in Germany were regularly translated into German and posted by AfD politicians and sympathizers.
Story after story claimed that migrants and refugees were raping German women and bringing dangerous diseases to the country, classic themes of the Nazi propaganda once used to incite genocidal hatred of Jews.
In a tragic irony, Rosenwald’s father, an heir to the Sears department store fortune, used his wealth to help Jewish refugees flee persecution in Europe.
His daughter took a different path. Journalist Max Blumenthal has called Nina Rosenwald the “sugar mama of anti-Muslim hate.”
Blumenthal reported in 2012 that Rosenwald “used her millions to cement the alliance between the pro-Israel lobby and the Islamophobic fringe.”
In addition to funding a host of the most notorious anti-Muslim demagogues, Blumenthal reported that Rosenwald “served on the board of AIPAC, the central arm of America’s Israel lobby, and holds leadership roles in a host of mainstream pro-Israel organizations.”
The party of Anders BreivikIn a profile the day after the election, The Jerusalem Report, published by the right-wing Jerusalem Post, gave AfD deputy leader Beatrix von Storch a platform to set out the party’s anti-Muslim ideology.
The Jerusalem Report also quotes German political scientist Marcel Lewandowsky explaining that “AfD members view the European Union as a traitor to Europe’s Christian heritage because they let in the Muslims. The view is that the Islamization of Europe was caused by the EU.”
“Replacement” by Muslims, Lewandowsky explained, “is the core of the fear of AfD voters.”
This means that the core ideology of the party is indistinguishable from that of Anders Breivik, the Norwegian who murdered 77 of his fellow citizens, mostly teenagers at a Labor Party youth camp, in July 2011, in the name of stopping the “Islamization” of Europe.
One of the biggest benefactors of Rosenwald’s largesse, according to Blumenthal, has been Daniel Pipes, the influential pro-Israel, anti-Muslim demagogue who Breivik cited 18 times in his notorious manifesto.
Admiration for IsraelAfD deputy leader von Storch, who sits in the European Parliament, also uses The Jerusalem Report interview to lay out her party’s pro-Israel stance, comparing its German nationalism to Israel’s Zionist ideology.
According to the The Jerusalem Report, von Storch is a founder of “Friends of Judea and Samaria,” a far-right European Parliament grouping that supports Israel’s illegal colonization of occupied Palestinian land.
Bizarrely, that group lists as one of its contact persons the head of the “Shomron Regional Council,” a settler organization in the occupied West Bank.
“Israel could be a role model for Germany,” von Storch told The Jerusalem Report. “Israel is a democracy that has a free and pluralistic society. Israel also makes efforts to preserve its unique culture and traditions. The same should be possible for Germany and any other nation.”
Von Storch’s identification with Israel echoes that of US Nazi demagogue Richard Spencer, who has described his vision of an Aryan “ethno-state” as “white Zionism.”
AfD chair Frauke Petry has also expressed support for Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. In February, she told the right-wing Jewish publication Tablet that her only visit to Israel gave her a positive view of the country.
“Suddenly the picture you get is somewhat different than what you got when you live far away,” she said.
These views, again, echo those of Anders Breivik. He was a strong admirer of Zionism, and advocated an alliance with Israel to fight against Muslims and their "culturalMarxists /multiculturalists” supporters.
Israel’s settler leaders have taken note of AfD’s support. As the world reeled from AfD’s electoral success, Yehuda Glick, a lawmaker in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, tweeted that all those who were “in a panic” about AfD should rest assured that Petry was working “intensively” to expel any anti-Semitic elements.
|Glick with Heinz Christian Strache of Austria's Freedom Party|
According to Tablet, Petry’s visit also led her to believe “that Europe should be learning more from Israel in its fight against terrorism.”
According to a recent survey, this strong support for Israel is felt across the ranks of AfD’s leadership.
Alliance with ZionismThere is a clear logic for AfD leaders to join the newly invigorated alliance between far-right, traditionally anti-Semitic forces on the one hand, and Israel and Zionists on the other.
Party chair Petry has argued that Jews should should be willing to talk to AfD over supposedly common interests, explaining, according to Tablet, that “it is the left wing in Germany and new Muslim immigrants who are leading her country’s anti-Israel movement.”
“Both anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are strongest in the Islamic community, as well as the left,” von Storch said. “They reject the fact that the Judeo-Christian foundations of European civilization are instrumental to its success. We recognize the threat they pose to both Israel and Germany’s Jewish community and their safety is a high priority for us.”
This is of course the most brazen revisionism: for centuries Europe’s Christian authorities not only did not consider Jews as a foundational part of their “civilization,” but persecuted them mercilessly, eventually attempting genocide.
But such facts are glossed over in the interests of a present-day anti-Muslim alliance that is prepared to torch the increasingly frayed fabric of pluralistic societies for the sake of Israel and German national purification.
Israel’s support for fascists
Critically, as Glick’s tweets indicate, this has not been a one-way affair. It has been encouraged by Israel and its lobby groups.
The notion that Israel is the spearhead of a Western civilizational battlefront against Islam has been a key claim of Netanyahu.
He and other Israeli leaders have exploited every terrorist outrage in Europe to advance the poisonous message that Israel is “fighting the same fight.”
And powerful Israel lobby groups, such as the Anti-Defamation League, that are now expressing alarm at the electoral success of the AfD, are far from innocent.
For years, the Anti-Defamation League – which poses as an “anti-hate” group – courted and whitewashed influential anti-Muslim hate-preachers because they supported its pro-Israel agenda.
This embrace between Zionists and their supposed opposites continues to thrive in the welcome former Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka have found from Israel and its lobby groups.
Bannon will speak at the Zionist Organization of America’s upcoming gala, while Gorka, who has ties to Nazis and violent anti-Semitic militias, was recently welcomed in Israel.
It can be seen in the Israeli government’s long and conspicuous silence while the rest of the world condemned August’s neo-Nazi rampage in Charlottesville, Virginia.
It can also be seen in Netanyahu’s embrace of far-right European leaders including Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has attempted to rehabilitate his country’s Hitler-allied wartime leadership.
While the brazenness of this alliance may be shocking, it dates back to the early years of both the Zionist and Nazi movements. As Columbia University professor Joseph Massad has pointed out, Zionists and European anti-Semites historically shared the same analysis: that Jews were alien to Europe and had to be moved elsewhere.
And it continues: Israeli commentators are noting that Israel has not rushed to condemn AfD.
Netanyahu – always quick to pounce on the alleged anti-Semitism of Israel’s critics – took to Twitter to congratulate Chancellor Angela Merkel on her victory, but has so far remained silent about the subject that everyone else is talking about.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that AfD hired the same US political consultancy, Harris Media, previously used by Trump and Netanyahu’s Likud Party to spread its anti-Muslim message.
Going mainstreamDespite its electoral success, AfD is riven by splits: its chair Frauke Petry made the surprise announcement on Monday that she won’t join her party’s parliamentary caucus.
One strategy party leaders are deploying to make AfD more palatable is to try to assuage the fears of the Jewish community.
Undoubtedly, it will continue to attempt to do so by expressing admiration and support for Israel – the same approach as France’s historically anti-Semitic Front National.
We can expect to see AfD double down on its support of Israel, including its colonial settlements in “Judea and Samaria.”
But this is indeed a mark of its mainstreaming. Historically, Germany’s postwar establishment, including the governments led by Merkel, has “atoned” for the country’s genocide of Jews by supporting Israel to commit crimes against Palestinians.
Billions of dollars of German “reparations” went not to helping Holocaust survivors, but to arming Israel to carry out military occupation and colonization.
For Palestinians, then, Merkel’s “moderate” centrism and AfD’s overt bigotry and racism, are little different in effect.
Just as Donald Trump presents the unvarnished face of the American militarism and imperialism that has victimized people around the world for decades, AfD is in some ways a more honest voice of a Germany that speaks of “human rights,” while unconditionally supporting an Israel whose main export is extremism and Islamophobia.
Europe’s nativist racism joined with this ill-wind from Israel produces a toxic mix.
Addressing the Zionist Organization of America, Bannon explains: 'We're a nation at war, Trump needs our back'
Shachar Peled Nov 13, 2017
President Donald Trump's former chief strategist on Sunday called on American Jews to join his war on the Republican establishment.
|Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist to President Donald Trump, speaks during an event in Manchester, N.H., Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. Mary Schwalm/AP|
Steve Bannon appealed to the Zionist Organization of America to "work as partners" in his crusade against GOP leaders he blames for blocking Trump's agenda. Bannon delivered the fiery address at the organization's annual awards dinner in New York at what ZOA President Morton Klein dubbed "the Academy Awards of the Jewish World" with several current and former Trump staffers in attendance.
Bannon seized the opportunity to punch back at the GOP. "We're leading an insurgency movement against the Republican establishment," Bannon charged, blaming his adversaries in the establishment for playing games.
Steven Bannon delivered an address at the Zionist Organization of America's annual awards dinner in New York on November 12, 2017.Shachar Peled
|Steven Bannon delivered an address at the Zionist Organization of America's annual awards dinner in New York on November 12, 2017.|
Steven Bannon delivered an address at the Zionist Organization of America's annual awards dinner in New York on November 12, 2017.Shachar Peled
He blamed the Republicans for “playing games” and lowering the bar, which resulted in what he considers a bad nuclear deal with Iran. "That's how you get the Iran deal," he continued. "That's how we still allow the American government to finance people that have blood on their hands of innocent Jewish civilians."
Bannon's participation in the event has raised criticism from many Jewish leaders, some seeing the political figure as tacitly encouraging alt-right and neo-Nazi supporters. The outlet he heads, Breitbart News, is popular among some white supremacists, anti-Semites and others who identify with the so-called alt-right movement.
Rabbi Jill Jacobs of human rights group T'ruah told Haaretz that Bannon had "brought white supremacy to the White house, and promoting that agenda even though he is no longer there, which is dangerous to Israel and Jews."
The Zionist Organization of America has largely embraced Bannon. In attendance at the group's gala of over 1,000 participants was former press secretary Sean Spicer and former deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka. Other controversial figures were present in the audience including pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec and alt-light provocateur Laura Loomer.
Retired Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman was presented with an award, as was serving American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. “We came into office on the heels of perhaps the greatest betrayal of Israel by a sitting president in American history,” Friedman said to applause from the crowd.
Outside the event, held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in midtown Manhattan, some 200 activists of the left-wing American Jewish group IfNotNow held a loud protest. “ZOA has decided to abandon the Jewish people in favor of Steve Bannon,” protestor Eliana Fishman said.
“We’re not going to let the Jewish community be the launching platform for Steven Bannon’s second career,” protestor Sarah Lerman-Sinkoff added. “In a post Charlottesville world, it shows that Jews forming alliances with the alt-right is not good for us and is horrible to our moral core of standing up for all targeted people, including Palestinians.”
ZOA President Morton Klein insisted that such accusations serve as “a horrific character assassination of a good man,” citing Bannon's inability to control his more extreme supporters. “Reagan had Nazis supporting him, so what?” Klein said.
Bannon was expected in last year’s ZOA gala, and some had attributed the then-large demonstration to his no-show. But this time, Klein told reporters, Bannon himself requested an invitation with a wish to introduce business magnate Sheldon Adelson. Adelson was expected but did not attend the gala.
Bannon nonetheless praised the billionare in his speech, for his “guidance, counsel and wisdom” that helped the Trump team “get through.”
Bannon, who left the White House in August, is now trying to raise money to defeat several sitting Republican senators he says are blocking Trump's agenda in Washington.
"President Trump needs our back," he declared. "We're a nation at war. This war is only going to be won if we bind together and work as partners."
Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, in his own speech, called for centrism and warned of extremism, particuarly pointing to the far-left. “I think today the hard left is far more dangerous to Israel’s existence and to the safety of the Jewish community,” Dershowitz told Haaretz. “The right has no influence today on college campuses, which are the future leaders of America.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report