Wednesday

14th Apr 2021

Opinion

Left flirting with antisemitism in EU parliament

  • During the conference in the EU parliament, numerous antisemitic statements were made. (Photo: European Parliament)

Two major issues have been shaping the western world for the last decade and a half: terrorism and racism.

In spite of what is often thought, both have strong contemporary connections to the European left.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

At the end of September, the GUE/NGL - a political group uniting parties to the left of social democracy - organised a seminar in the European Parliament where both these tendencies were on display.

One of the speakers was Leila Khaled, a member of the Palestinian terror group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and a hijacker of two civilian airplanes.

It is outrageous that such a person is given a platform in the EU parliament, a body representing democracy and peaceful cooperation among peoples.

Furthermore, during the conference, numerous antisemitic statements were made.

One speaker argued that "some sections" of Israeli society "are more racist than the Nazis themselves" and that the Zionist movement collaborated with the German Nazi regime.

Another speaker compared the situation in Gaza to the Holocaust and then argued that Israel should be judged like the Nazis in Nuremberg.

A third statement labelled a Palestinian terrorist, who shot and murdered three Israelis, as a "martyr."

Not a one-off event

Even if it is despicable, it could be seen as a one-off event. Regrettably, this is not the case.

In my own country, Sweden, the Left party (Vänsterpartiet) has had systematic ties to undemocratic and violent terror organisations. And antisemitism is popping up here and there in the European left movement.

The British Labour party seems to be particularly hit, with a succession of seemingly antisemitic incidents causing a stir in the UK.

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone suggested that Hitler supported Zionists and others argued for the expulsion of Jewish groups from the party.

Antisemitism is one of the world's oldest forms of ethnic hatred. In his book 'Racism: a short story', US historian George Fredrickson traces its origins back to medieval Europe.

Furthermore, antisemitism is not only the racism that has taken the most brutal expression in industrialised mass slaughter, but it is also one of the 'stickiest' variations of collectivist hate - repeatedly showing its ugly face.

When Europe is overwhelmed by a populist-nationalist surge with anti-immigrant, xenophobic and racist tendencies, it is very important that other political parties display zero tolerance to similar ideas.

Regrettably, though, the European left has not been able to keep itself immune from such influences.

Last weekend, in the second largest Swedish city of Gothenburg, neo-Nazis marched in the streets.

And, in August, white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in the US, chanted "Jews will not replace us". It is sad to see that the European left cannot refrain from similar tendencies.

It is clear that Europe is suffering not from one extreme political force tarnished by racism and terror, but from two such groups.

Gunnar Hoekmark is an MEP in the EPP group.

Correction: This article originally said that Gunnar Hoekmark was German, but he is actually from Sweden.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Breaking the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock

The chaos sweeping the Middle East provides the right conditions for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The EU should throw its weight behind a French initiative to restart the peace process.

Belgium's Aalst carnival - no easy fix to anti-semitism

This year's carnival saw Jews portrayed as insects, people wearing fake ultra-Orthodox costumes, crass comments about circumcision and the Wailing Wall, uniforms resembling Nazi attire labelled Unestapo - a play on the word 'Gestapo'.

Bulgaria must stop this neo-Nazi Lukov march

Just as Bulgaria begins its six-month presidency of the EU, thousands of neo-Nazis will be marching in the streets of the capital, Sofia. This homage to Hristo Lukov, responsible for 11,300 Jewish deaths, must be banned.

A new antisemitism definition to ease IHRA confusion

The EU's good intention behind endorsing the IHRA definition has been to introduce one clear and uniform standard for data about antisemitic incidents. In practice, however, the IHRA definition has turned into a source of confusion and contention.

News in Brief

  1. EU states make progress on Covid-19 'travel certificates'
  2. Michel pledges to protect von der Leyen's 'dignity' in future
  3. Libya frees UN-sanctioned human trafficker
  4. European court: jailed Turkish writer's rights violated
  5. EU set to miss 1m electric charging points by 2025 target
  6. Lavrov expects Iran nuclear deal to be saved
  7. France suspends flights from Brazil due to Covid variant
  8. Johnson & Johnson delays roll-out of vaccine in EU

Column

Why Germans understand the EU best

In Germany, there is commotion about a new book in which two journalists describe meetings held during the corona crisis between federal chancellor Angela Merkel, and the 16 prime ministers of its federal constituent states.

Why Iceland isn't the gender paradise you think

Iceland's international reputation masks two blunt realities that face the country's women - the disproportionate levels of gender-based violence that they experience, and a justice system that is frequently suspicious and hostile towards victims of this violence.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. Nato and US urge Russia to back off on Ukraine
  2. Future EU platform seeks to 'stay clean' of hate speech
  3. Denmark threatens Syria deportations amid EU concerns
  4. MEPs raise concerns on vaccine 'travel certificates'
  5. Will Romania be EU's Green Deal laggard?
  6. Muslims, Ramadan, and myths facing 'European civilisation'
  7. Europe & Africa - rebuilding the future
  8. How the pandemic became an EU goldmine for crime

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us