A French-Greek wake-up call
Published in: Jewish Chronicle
The recent elections here and in Europe have left Jews and all who care about freedom and democracy with many reasons for unease.
In Greece, around two thirds of those who voted did so for extremist parties of left and right. Chillingly, the neo-Nazi "Golden Dawn" party won no fewer than 21 seats.
As I write, Greece is in chaos, with fresh elections a distinct possibility if no party can form a government.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that the EU, whose founding credo was to prevent fascism from ever again taking root in Europe, is now looking at a member state with a significant fascist element in its ruling body.
Not only that, the EU itself precipitated this calamity. For the Greek debacle was a public spasm of fury against austerity measures imposed by Brussels and Berlin.
The convulsions in Europe are throwing up some curious and disturbing parallels and alliances. In France, the left-wing Francois Hollande won on the very same anti-austerity platform as the neo-Nazis in Greece.
Hollande says he is an "enemy of finance" - in effect making common cause with the far right, which identifies the Jews as controlling that financial world, which they agree with the left is a conspiracy against the interests of working people.
Behind his victory, moreover, lies an alliance between Islamic radicals and the left. Writing before the election, French Jewish commentator Michel Gurfinkiel wrote that the French left had recast the proletariat as the "multitude", the West as "Empire" - and Jews as Zionists, the spearhead of counter-revolution.
After the Toulouse atrocity, leftist and Muslim groups started organising rallies against racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia, on the basis that the killer was a white neo-Nazi - only to drop all protests when his Muslim identity was established.
A victory by Hollande, Gurfinkiel wrote, would accelerate the Islamisation of France and the destruction of its national identity.
In Britain, relief at the defeat of Ken Livingstone must be tempered by the fact that, given his troubling views about Jews and cynical alliances with jihadis, Labour fielded him at all. Nor does his defeat erase the disturbing fact that a number of Jews on the left still supported him despite such a record.
And, although some prominent members of the community in the end disowned him, many Jews on the left are turning a blind eye to the roots of Islamic radicalism and even vilifying those sounding the alarm about Muslim antisemitism and the Islamist threat to life and liberty.
A few years ago, the French-Jewish leader Roger Cukierman identified an anti-Jewish "brown-red-green alliance" between ultra-nationalists, greens and communists. What these elections have revealed is an anti-Jewish brown-red-black continuum between the fascists, the left and the Islamists.
So what follows? If the Greeks default and exit the eurozone it is likely to break apart, even if Hollande reins in his own austerity-busting growth programme.
The results will not be pretty, the backwash will be extensive and as ever the Jews will be in peril from the instinct to lash out at convenient scapegoats. More French Jews will leave France. As the country went to the polls last Sunday, a staggering 5,000 attended a Jewish Agency aliyah fair in Paris.
In Britain, there will be no such clarity. As the Jewish leadership sucks up to those in power who ignore the anti-Jewish venom in their ranks, and the Jewish left remains unchallenged over its unholy alliance, the community's collective head will remain buried in the sand while its rump is left horribly exposed for a kicking.