B. European Countries
C. Cyber Nazis
A British journalist, Chris McGreal, writing from Jerusalem in the Guardian (a British newspaper) in November 2003, entitles his article: “The ‘new’ anti-Semitism: is Europe in grip of worst bout of hatred since the Holocaust?”
60 years after the Holocaust, European Jews and Israelis are increasingly wondering if Europe is being sucked into the worst wave of anti-Semitism since the Second World War.
What prompted this question?
Following are some of the political trends and antisemitic incidents recorded over the last year or so in Europe. It is worthwhile noting that these are not isolated incidents in one or two countries, but increasingly frequent occurrences across the entire continent. While Eastern Europe has also seen an increase in anti-Semitic activity, it is in Western Europe that the trend has become really inflammatory.
Recommended report: http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism/annual-report.html
B. European Countries
Two synagogue desecrations in 2002, including destruction of Sifrei Torah (Torah Scrolls), one in Swansea, including arson, (Wales) and one in Finsbury Park (E. London), have been attributed by some to right-wing, neo-Nazi groups, and were quite similar. Both included the daubing of Swastikas, the "T4" Nazi "euthanasia" program, and the leaving of excrement, as well as damage to the property.
Assaults on individual Jews by neo-Nazis now take second place to serious assault by "Muslims or Palestinian sympathisers". Discourse incidents were not addressed in detail.
Right-wing groups in the UK have a traditional xenophobic and antisemitic power base and are taking off primarily on the Internet, promoting focused incitement. The Guardian newspaper viewed documents from a secure email network, showing that hardline fascists were planning a campaign of "violence and intimidation" and swapping information on bomb-making and details of possible targets, deliberately inciting to vengeance. The group was linked to the Redwatch website, which carries hundreds of pictures and details of anti-fascists - many taken during protests against the British National Party - alongside the slogan: "Remember places, traitors' faces, they'll all pay for their crimes."
The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, was pressured to shut down "an extreme right-wing website", presumably Redwatch, following the discovery of a "secret hit-list" of targets - including social workers, journalists and politicians.
Since its first Jewish (woman) Interior Minister and President, Ruth Dreyfuss, left the government, Switzerland appears to be consolidating towards the right-wing. The far right made a dangerous gain after Christoph Blocher, the controversial anti-immigrant populist, won a seat in the country's cabinet.
Today, the Swiss right-wing openly denounces "Zionist imperialism" and "the Jewish lobby" in the same voice, alongside the left-wing.
Antisemitism exists within this political far right and its fringe circles ((both francophone and german-speaking), but some prosecutions on counts of racism, for Holocaust denial, have succeeded and one organization was disbanded. There are a number of very active Holocaust denial figures and circles in Switzerland, but private gatherings are permitted. The neo-Nazi Party is legal and attracts skinheads.
One of the main focuses of right-wing Antisemitism was the lifting of the 100-year long ban on Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter, which generated massive and violent popular and animal rights' opposition in the media, including vilification and threats, with little or no comment from official circles.
Nearly one in four French people back the ideas of the anti-immigrant National Front and its leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, according to a poll released yesterday, while only 42% believe the party's policies are unacceptable.
The survey by the TNS/Sofres organisation, published in Le Monde, showed 22% of those polled were "wholly or partially" in agreement with the Front. Three months before regional elections, 28% said they "would not mind" their region being run by Mr Le Pen's party.
With relatively few Jews and a large immigrant population, Swedish right-wing groups are traditionally xenophobic and antisemiticm, but their focus is on the Swedish political arena. The prime suspect in the Anna Lindh murder case is alleged to have links with "some of Sweden's most notorious neo-Nazi figures".
Most of the ongoing antisemitic activity is in discourse, print media, and over the Internet. The anchor town of Nazi and politically acceptable groups is Karlskrona; the NSF Party is openly antisemitic. Salt magazine carried Holocaust denial and Jewish conspiracy articles; a company-owner was prosecuted for releasing antisemitic and racist CDs; four Nazis were sentenced for the republication of an antisemitic book dating from 1930 (two from Karlskrona). The data for 2002 show the right-wing as responsible for 17.6% of antisemitic incidents that year.
A significant EU finding on right-wing Antisemitism in Sweden is that the traditionally strong, fringe Nazi and neo-Nazi groups applaud Islamic Antisemitism and terror, including that of Al-Qaida.
The EU report states: "Anti-Semitism is a main ideological component of most extreme right-wing groups and their publications in Austria." (p.84). This includes Holocaust denial, traditional xenophobia, while public debate generally accepted that statements about the "worldwide Jewish conspiracy" were acceptable. There is a plethora of right wing print media, clearly demonstrating the link between traditional antisemitic stereotyping and anti-Israel sentiment. Antisemitic attitudes were on the increase among the public; Holocaust education was being engaged.
Four months after bringing down the Austrian government and forcing early elections, the extreme right leader Jörg Haider is making a strong come back. The Freedom Party members currently hold six posts in the Austrian cabinet, making it unlikely that their platform will be challenged by democratic measures.
For Extensive coverage of Austria’s Far Right see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/austria/0,2759,184722,00.html
The arrests of 10 people accused of planning bombing at inauguration of Munich synagogue alerted Germany to the rise of far-right terrorism, rather than simply discourse, media, or covert Antisemitism.
See article: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?
There is extensive use of antisemitic Internet and print/imprintation media, especially for export. Right-wing German public opinion has, overall, become more antisemitic, under the influence of reporting about Israel and the Middle East.
The far-right Vlaams Blok became the biggest political force in its Flemish stronghold city, Antwerp, in October 2000, taking 20 out of 50 seats on the city council. In the 1999 parliamentary elections it took 9.9% of the vote, translating under the PR system to 15 seats in the lower house. VB is fiercely anti-immigrant, openly antisemitic and advocates Flemish self-rule.
The ultra-right DPP swept into parliament as the country's third-largest party following the 2001 elections, taking 12% of the vote and 22 seats under Denmark's partial PR system. Now underpinning a centre-right government coalition, it has drafted tough new asylum policies and cut aid to the developing world.
While the neo-Nazi Party and National Front are on the political fringe, there are active "White Pride" groups, some of whose members were arrested for armed assault on members of a pro-Israel demonstration in 2002 – alongside numerous Palestinian co-protesters.
The xenophobic Northern League and the post-fascist National Alliance entered a rightwing coalition with Silvio Berlusconi's governing party, following general elections in 2001. Its leader, Gianfranco Fini, has attempted to put the Mussolini fascist origins of the party in the past, but its membership remains largely right-wing in its ideas. There are also National Front and Holocaust Denial groups on the right-wing. The Italian right is notoriously networked to and influenced by international right-wing and its antisemitic prejudices, from which it imports much of the increased expression of Antisemitism today.
Racist and antisemitic remarks are increasingly present in public discourse. Websites and the print media do post and publish right-wing, antisemitic propaganda; there are some right-wing journals which also publish Holocaust denial; also prominent is the visibility of graffiti against Jewish politicians (a rarity, in Italy).
The major change is that there have been occasional right-wing assaults on members of the Jewish community, and some right-wing circles were found to be actively involved in planning attacks on Jewish targets. There are increasing signs of reversion to earlier religious antisemitic stereotypes: public references to "killing Christ" by some Catholics (usually on the political right), as well as in the media – including the moderate press. These are not unconnected to the presentation of Israel in the media (Church of the Nativity stalemate, etc.).
Skinheads attacked Jewish worshippers and smashed the windows of Kiev’s main synagogue. Ukrainian police denied that the attack was anti-Jewish.
Jewish graves were desecrated in Ionnina and vandals hurled paint at the Holocaust memorial in Salonica. The popular Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis commented that “Jews are at the root of all evil.”
C. Cyber Nazis
Racist and xenophobic groups utilize the Net for three definable purposes, namely;
The emergence of the information superhighway has transformed the rules of engagement in the market place of ideas. It provides immediate and universal access to densely packaged, illustrated and textual information, together with virtually infinite production and marketing capacity, for groups and their members. Where there is no working legislation on hate and xenophobia (unlike the situation in France and Germany), the world is their oyster.
On the Internet, uncensored Neo Nazi groups openly explain and expound the ideology of Natural Socialism. The 'Storm Front' Website, for example, provides the user with a twenty page explanation of Nazism in a question and answer style format. The site answers such questions, as" "What is National Socialist?", "Why do you call yourself Aryan?", "Why do you use the Swastika?", "Why do you give that Hitler Salute?" Its answers are racist and supremacist.
These, and other groups engage in Holocaust denial.
While the delivery method of propaganda is new, its messages have long been repeated in history as a justification for genocide.
The freedom of the Internet enables Net Nazis to incite racial hatred without restraint. In Cyberspace, anybody is allowed to scream.