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Oct 25, 2011

Strange bedfellows: new nexus between Israel and far Right

This is an extract from an essay in On Utøya: Anders Breivik, right terror, racism and Europe.

Amid the acres of commentary on the exchange of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners, one comment stands out: “Let the WORLD know about Israel’s humanity and the terrorists’ inhumanity — SHARE this one with EVERYONE you know, friends!” What makes it noteworthy is that it featured on the “Geert Wilders International Freedom Allinace”  Facebook page, where supporters of the far-Right Dutch politician gather, one of many messages of fanatical pro-Israeli commentary.

The growing appeal of Israel to the world’s right-wing community has been developing for some years. Nevertheless, some examples are eye-popping. In July 2011, a Russian neo-Nazi delegation travelled to Israel, after an invitation by far Right Israeli politicians and an editor of a pro-settler news service. The Holocaust deniers visited Israel’s Holocaust centre, Yad Vashem, despite being photographed previously giving Nazi salutes and publishing songs celebrating Adolf Hitler on their website.

The pair was interviewed on Israeli TV. One said that the idea of the Jewish state “excites me” because it involves “an ancient people who took upon itself a pioneer project to revive a modern state and nation”. The TV journalist then asked how a neo-Nazi could now embrace Zionism. The other Russian quickly responded by explaining the common enemy they both faced: “We’re talking about radical Islam which is the enemy of humanity, enemy of democracy, enemy of progress and of any sane society.” In December 2010 a much larger delegation of European far Right politicians, including a Belgian politician with clear ties to SS veterans and a Swedish politician with connections to the country’s fascist past, also paid their respects at Yad Vashem. They were welcomed by some members of the Israeli Knesset and agreed to sign a “Jerusalem Declaration”, guaranteeing Israel’s right to defend itself against terror. “We stand at the vanguard in the fight for the Western, democratic community” against the “totalitarian threat” of “fundamentalist Islam”, read the document.

The signatories were some of Europe’s most successful anti-immigration politicians who long ago realised that backing Israel was a clever way to guarantee respectability for a cause that risked being framed as extremist or racist. One Israeli politician who met the delegation, Nissim Zeev, a member of ultra-Orthodox, right-wing party Shas, embraced the group: “At the end of the day, what’s important is their attitude, the fact they really love Israel.”

Yesterday’s anti-Semites have reformed themselves as today’s crusading heroes against an unstoppable Muslim birth-rate on a continent that now sees Islam as an intolerant and ghettoised religion. These increasingly mainstream attitudes have marinated across Europe for at least a decade — most starkly expressed in the writings of the Norway killer Anders Breivik, who slaughtered nearly 70 young left-wingers on Utøya island in late July this year.

Breivik’s interest in Israel wasn’t an accidental quirk of his Google search terms. It was reflective of years of indoctrination from that fateful September day in 2001 onwards. None of Breivik’s right-wing heroes openly praised his killings — politically speaking, half-hearted condemnations were the order of the day — because their vision of open war with Islam was arguably even more clinical. They cheered as America and Israel used the vast power of the state to attack, bomb, drone, kidnap, torture and murder literally countless Muslim victims in the past decade in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Palestine, Somalia and beyond.

Breivik’s admired this Israeli “can-do” attitude but equally dismissed left-wing Jews who supported Palestinian rights. “Were the majority of the German and European Jews [in ’30s Europe] disloyal?” he asked in his “2083” manifesto. He went on:

“Yes, at least the so-called liberal Jews, similar to the liberal Jews today that opposes nationalism/Zionism and supports multiculturalism. Jews that support multiculturalism today are as much of a threat to Israel and Zionism (Israeli nationalism) as they are to us. So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural Marxists/multiculturalists. Conservative Jews were loyal to Europe and should have been rewarded. Instead, [Hitler] just targeted them all.” (p 1167)

Breivik mirrored the familiar separation of “good Jews” and “bad Jews” that appear in Western dialogue over the Israel/Palestine conflict. The nationalistic, Arab-hating Jew who believes in the never-ending occupation of Palestinian land is praise-worthy but the questioning, anti-Zionist Jew is a threat that must be eliminated. The commentators, journalists and politicians who receive mainstream acceptance and appear regularly in our media such as Daniel Pipes, who calls for the bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, are welcomed into the club of popular Islamophobes because they speak the language of domination and violence reflected in our media and political discourse on a daily basis.

My enemy’s enemy is my friend

Breivik’s conviction that he was a friend of Zionism created a moral challenge for many of those he had quoted in his manifesto. It was not a challenge many faced well. One of the more notorious, American blogger Pamela Geller, condemned the killings as “horrific” but not so subtly in the same post reminded readers that the young students who attended summer camp at Utøya were actually witnessing an “anti-Semitic indoctrination training centre”. How? Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store had visited the camp and called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, apparently making him an anti-Semite by definition. Regular Jerusalem Post columnist Barry Rubin simply called the youth camp, “a pro-terrorist program”.

Geller was further incensed that he even called “Palestinians” Palestinian, because for her and her fellow travellers the Palestinians aren’t a real people deserving rights or a homeland. “Utøya camp was not Islamist,” Geller assures us, “but it was something not much more wholesome.” Thus Islamophobia seamlessly morphed into blind and racist Zionism.

In Australia likewise, the Israel lobby skirted around this uncomfortable reality, both publicly repulsed by the murders but they remain on the record as arguing for boundaries on Middle East debate. Others simply denied that Breivik’s sympathises for right-wing Zionism was irrelevant to understanding his crimes.

Of course this was absurd. Exaggerating a clash of civilisations has become the bread and butter of countless keyboard warriors in the past decade, with ever-more brutal Israel placed at the forefront of this struggle. Demonising Muslims and calling for their death on a regular basis has consequences. Muslims replacing Jews as the supposed enemy aiming for world domination will come with a price.

Israelophilia in the service of Islamophobia

The message emanating from the Zionist crowd was at times conflicted yet clear; Breivik could be forgiven for thinking that Israel was striving for racial perfection. The Jerusalem Post provided clarification after the attack in a startling editorial. It claimed multiculturalism had failed in Europe, Muslims were a threat to societal harmony and clearly implied that an ethnocracy, such as Israel, was the ideal global model:

“While there is absolutely no justification for the sort of heinous act perpetrated this weekend in Norway, discontent with multiculturalism’s failure must not be delegitimatised or mistakenly portrayed as an opinion held by only the most extremist elements of the Right.”

The Post seemed to defend the mindset, if not the actions, expressed by Breivik, as a common and understandable attitude of simply wanting to “protect unique European culture and values”. These values did not include Islam or being proud of a racially diverse land. (A week later, the paper issued an apology editorial after a massive backlash against its position. Belatedly, the editorial noted that “Jews, Muslims and Christians in Israel and around the world should be standing together against such hate crimes”.)

Anders Breivik’s real motivations may never be fully understood but his love for Israel didn’t appear out of the blue. It was because Zionism and its closest followers have cultivated an image of a country that can only survive without integration, peace with its Arab neighbours or an end to the occupation. Racial domination is the dream. Breivik took this call to a devastating conclusion and his manifesto makes clear that his support for Israel is couched in the language of survival against an unforgiving, intolerant and high Muslim birth-rate world.

You can hear these views on any day of the week on Facebook, on Twitter — and in the Israeli Knesset.

*This is an extract from an essay in On Utøya: Anders Breivik, right terror, racism and Europe, edited by Elizabeth Humphrys, Guy Rundle and Tad Tietze, an ebook to be published on October 26. The book will be launched by Senator Lee Rhiannon and Antony Loewenstein , 6.30pm Wednesday, October 26 at the Norfolk Hotel, Cleveland Street in Surry Hills, Sydney.

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8 thoughts on “Strange bedfellows: new nexus between Israel and far Right

  1. Why Gee

    talk about guilt by association. these are right-wing nut-cases, and just because israeli right-wing nut-cases might find some affinity, to associate all of israel, zionists, or even jews with these people and to therefore tar them with the same brush is as illogical as it is disgustingly offensive.


  2. Kevin Herbert


    The fact that virtually none of Australia’s Zionists ever condemn any of the multitude of violent, racist, apartheid crimes against both Palestinians & decent Israeli’s on a daily basis over the past 40 years, is the point in question here.

    Most of Australia’s Zionists are at least tacit supporters of ALL that Israel does…..”They saw what was happening, but looked the other way”…now where have we heard that statement before. Their position on Israel is both intellectually & morally repugnant.

    As the great Amercian Jew Dr.Norman Finkelstein says when confronted by sensationalist statements such as yours:

    “Take your crocodile tears somewhere else”.

  3. Mike R

    Another outstanding piece that illustrates the degree of impartiality that Antony Loewenstein is justly renowned for. I am always in awe of his single minded ability to present both sides of any case unlike the Zionist apologists Keane, Richardson and Rundle.

    I agree with Antony that when it comes to the Middle East, nothing is surprising. The variety of Jewish positions regarding the Mid-East does lead to a vast range of interesting choices for bedfellows. These bizarre relationships range from the extreme orthodox Jewish sects which for their own religiously based reasons support Hamas and plaster slogans equating Israel with the Nazis (which interestingly makes them bedfellows of the extreme left and in turn makes for a crowded bed) , to the extreme right wing idiots, mentioned above, that entertain neo-fascists with the misguided philosophy that my enemy’s enemy is my friend. This is despite how counter-productive this strategy has been demonstrated to be (i.e. the American strategy in Afghanistan). It is interesting to note the split amongst some of the European neo- fascist organizations where some have dispensed with convention and are concentrating on Islamophobia rather than the more customary anti-Semitism and, as noted may, using the same twisted logic as above, actually support Israel.

    I frankly concur with Antony’s condemnation of those of the far right of the Israeli spectrum who ignore the vile provenance of their Islamophobic colleagues in European countries.
    Despite the split amongst the European right, there remain plenty of far right organizations inside and outside of Europe that still fulfill their traditional briefs. If one is in doubt and has the necessary disposition, just do a search on ‘Zionism’ and only a click or two away, are samples of the full-bodied flavour of the more traditional forms of anti-Semitism. Many of these contributions can be from the left or from the right and it can be hard, or sometimes impossible, to distinguish them.

    These elements of the left, acting as a counter-balance to the stupidity of the right, have often found themselves in bed with the traditional anti-Semites of the extreme right (sometimes to their mutual horror but more often in conjugal bliss). The advantage of this co-habitation of the left with the more traditional extreme right is that it can be easily used to generate parallel narratives by the simple transposition of the words ‘Jew’ and ‘Zionist’ . Examples of this are the standard fare, so beloved of the extremists of both persuasions, that Jews/Zionists control the world’s media and financial institutions etc.. To paraphrase Antony- You can hear these views on any day of the week on Facebook, on Twitter and blogs all over the Internet.

    Finally, the reason why some Jews crave the approval of those outside their enclave is complex and may be more suited to the domain of psycho-analysis. But, to hazard a guess, it may be their insecurities that lead to the attempts to court approval from extremists (of the far right or far left ) by zealously adopting positions that appeal to their suitors.

    This all may sound familiar to those who are acquainted with Loewenstein’s fixation vis-a-vis Israel. Antony accumulates on almost a daily basis , akin to an obsessive compulsive anti-Zionist Bower bird, an impressive treasure trove of material, gleaned from the nooks and crannies of the Internet in support of his thesis that Israel is the root of all evil. He shows impressive dedication to the cause and impeccable judgment in studiously avoiding any information encountered along the way that might upset his nest.

    I do apologize for some of the ad hominem nature of my remarks above, but I guess this just illustrates that the standard one-sided diatribe from Loewenstein is more likely to inflame than inform.

  4. Kevin Herbert

    MIKE R: from behind the convenient veil of your anonymous post, you apologise for ” the ad hominem nature of your remarks”…really, there’s no need old chap..they’re totally innocuous & result in none of the intended sting that such remarks usually have.

    As for the rest of your polemic, it fails dismally due to its sole reliance on the wholly discredited Zionist catch-all defence of ‘anti-semitism’. You’ve got to understand that the use of the Herzl-inspired term ‘anti-semitism’ to deflect justifiable criticism of Zionist excesses over the past 100 or so years, has been wholly discredited globally over the past 20 or so years by, inter alia, Jewish commentators such as Michael Brull, Antony Loewenstein and Dr Norman Finkelstein to name a few, not to mention Jewish groups such Code Pink, Jews Against the Occupation, Independent Jewish Voices, Muzzlewatch etc etc etc.

    The trite cyclical structure of your agruments smacks of the Talmudic sophistry…all show, rank generalisations & no supporting facts….Christopher Hitchens you ain’t dear chap.

    For the record Antony’s fixation with Israel is shared by millions of people globally, who won’t stand by and watch an apartheid, race-supremacist Israeli Government ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people from their homelands.

    One of your many unsupported claims re Antony’s writing on Israel is that :
    ” He shows impressive dedication to the cause and impeccable judgment in studiously avoiding any information encountered along the way that might upset his nest”.

    Let me counter your view by asking you to rebutt with data some or any of Antony’s positions on Israel.

    As Christopher Hitchens remarked recently:

    “Claims not supported data, can be dismissed without data”

    Over to you.

  5. Kevin Herbert


    we’re waiting….

  6. Mike R

    Hi Kevin,

    It is reassuring, in your opinion, that my ad- hominen comments above carried no sting and I may have apologized unnecessarily.

    However I take some issue with your comments regarding anti-Semitism.
    You claim that Herzl inspired the term anti-Semitism. As per usual your claim does not stand up to scrutiny. It appears that the term may have been coined as early as 1879 (see The Way to Victory of the Germanic Spirit over the Jewish Spirit, Wilhelm.Marr)- well before Herzl became a significant figure. I do not know where you get your stuff from. Maybe you should disable your Internet Zionist Filter. Kev it took me no more than 2 minutes to check the veracity of your claim.

    You also made other claims regarding anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. It is clear that the anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are not necessarily mutually exclusive. There exists sets of anti-Zionists and anti-Semites and one can conjecture that there exists an overlap of the two. For instance I can point out a number of sites on the internet that are clearly anti-Zionist and also contain holocaust denial material . A good example with local flavor is ‘’ and you can find plenty of anti-Zionism combined with holocaust denial on a plethora of web sites pushing the Ahmadinejad line. Now it does not seem beyond the bounds of reason that holocaust denial is an excellent marker for anti-Semitism. Even you Kevin may agree with that? These are the people who give anti-Zionism a bad name.

    Nevertheless it is clearly fallacious to assert that all anti-Zionists are anti-Semites. It is interesting that the standard paradigms of the past (i.e., that all anti-Semites are anti-Zionist) are not now necessarily true (as was pointed out above in the original article that some notorious anti-Semitic organizations, in their Islamlophobic fervor appear to bizarrely have adopted pro-Zionist positions).

    However the point I was trying to make above (unsuccessfully it seems) is that anti-Zionists who borrow the mythology and traditional garb from the anti-Semite while pleading ‘what me an anti-Semite? Or some of my best friends…’ are in danger of sliding down that slippery slope or have already fallen into the chasm.

    You also refer to a number of Jews and Jewish organizations that oppose Israel. This is unsurprising in light of the adage, two Jews, three opinions. Needless to say I could quote any number of Jewish organizations that have the opposite viewpoints. Enumerating those for and against is a rather pointless exercise.

    Possibly I misconstrued your point regarding Jewish anti-Zionism. The fact that there are in existence anti-Zionist Jews and Jewish organizations does not prove that an anti-Zionist cannot also be an anti-Semite (unless you failed Elementary Logic 101, you don’t have to be a Talmudic scholar to work this out).

    The anti-Zionism of these Jews has various origins ranging from religious reasons and/ or compassion for the Palestinians or numerous other valid reasons that do not include anti-Semitism. Many from the extreme right of the Israeli spectrum have derided Jewish anti-Zionists as belonging to the class of anti-Semites referred to as ‘self- hating Jews’. This term has been bandied about by those extremists to smear anyone left of their extreme views. I however, think the term should only be used when it is justified by the evidence, and this brings us to Loewenstein.

    The problem with Loewenstein is not so much the data that he includes in his blog ( a vast compendium) but more with the data that he does not choose to present. Anything that runs counter to his credo does not get a guernsey. Like any good propagandist adept at spin, he overlays his interpretations to suit his arguments and is expert at smearing those with opposing views with the same brush (i.e. the implication that Zionism in toto can be delegitimized due to the Zionist sympathies of Breivik and some neo fascists).

    I guess that it is his choice to adopt this style but it does make him an easy target for being labeled as a propagandist rather than a journalist. It is interesting that he is a semi-regular contributor to the Mid-East debate in Crikey. In the same spirit of impartiality, I am looking forward to Andrew Bolt’s contributions to Crikey regarding the asylum debate and the ethics of the press.

    By the way I am chuffed to be compared to Christopher Hitchens, even if it was meant to be less than complimentary. I am in awe of his writings concerning religion (not too crazy about his opinions regarding Iraq however), but Kev you are attributing way too much importance to my ramblings. But it is a nice thought.

    Kev, I also apologize for my contribution to the glacial progress of the correspondence. At this rate, the dispute between the Mid-East parties will have been resolved, one way or the other by the time our tit-for tat exchanges are completed. In this case we will be carrying on our debate like relics of a bygone era.

  7. Kevin Herbert

    MIKE R:

    you certainly know how to over-egg a response.

    My Herzl reference is not’re interpretation of it is.

    As for the rest of your rambling polemic…after a while I fell aslee zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  8. Mike R

    Kev, I am in total agreement with you again regarding my ‘over-egged’ responses .
    You are indeed right, it is hard to justify making extensive comments in light of the brevity and almost total absence of content of your contributions. In deference to your very limited concentration span, I will try to restrict myself to your peculiar claim that Herzl inspired the term anti-Semitism. You refer to your claim as ‘not innacurate’ (sic) (I guess you mean accurate- who’s padding now?) but a much better characterization is ‘off the planet’ (a propos of what follows below).

    As I mentioned previously (and once again you have adopted your usual M.O. and have studiously ignored) the use of the term ‘anti-Semitism’ predates Herzl’s rise to prominence by at least 15 years. Other than an astrophysical explanation that requires time travel via worm-holes etc, could you elaborate on how Herzl could have inspired the term. You claim to be a stickler for facts. But could you be indulging in a post- modernist interpretation?

    Alternatively, I note your claim that my earlier comments smack of Talmudic sophistry. You obviously then must have some familiarity in these matters (are you an adherent of the Hillel school or the Hammai school? ). Maybe you need to use your extensive knowledge of Jewish matters and invoke a metaphysical Kabbalistic explanation to explain Herzl’s previously unrecognized abilities with regard to time travel. This sounds like a great idea for a film. I am sure we can get the Coen brothers interested. On the theme of Sci-Fi and fantasy, are you related to the late great Frank Herbert? I apologise for the silliness above, but humour can be a useful antidote to stupidity.

    Unfortunately my enthusiasm, as usual, has got the better of me and I have again spent more time on your nonsense (and mine) than is necessary. Kev, I wish you well and go back to sleep and have sweet dreams. But before you drop off and return to La La land, check under the bed for Zionists (and dybbuks) , just in case they upset the tranquillity of your sleep.

    p.s. Kevin I can envisage that you can combine your specialties in fantasy and anti-Zionism to pen a sequel to Dune where the time travelling Herzl leads a Zionist take over of the desert world of Arrakis. Should be a great hit in many areas of the Mid-East.