Why Euro-populists see Jews as traitors

By Anna Ekstrom, July 14, 2011
Follow The JC on Twitter

Northern European populists such as the Sweden Democrats and Geert Wilders' PVV party in the Netherlands want others to see them as the defenders of European Jewry and Israel, but there are some within these parties - grassroots as well as politicians - who have started to blame the Jews for Muslim immigration, among other "social ills" of Europe.

In order to see how this happened, it is necessary to understand the components of populist ideology.

For populists, society is threatened by the political class and politically correct media elite. These groups are blamed for bending to global capital, Islamisation and liberalism, which, to populists, means weakness.

A further narrative that drives populist European racism is propagated by figures such as Thilo Sarrazin, author of the Deutschland schafft sich ab, and psychologist and Danish People's Party politician Nicolai Sennels. For Sennels, Muslims are inbred and therefore a race whose gene pool gives rise to criminal behaviour and welfare abuse. Together with the mentally handicapped, whom the Sweden Democrats want to send to distant institutions; young delinquents and their families, whom Wilders wishes to place in camps; and the Roma and other "aliens", the Muslims are believed to contaminate the pure people.

Northern European populists initially exempted the Jews from these xenophobic and racist theories because they have an idolised image of Israel as a mono-ethnic, anti-Islam bloc and, second, because they have identified with European victims of Muslim antisemitism. Furthermore, Jews have been, and still are, useful weapons against Muslims and elites.

For these weapons to be effective, however, the Jews have to play their part. But most Jews have not turned populist.

Anger over this perceived betrayal is now evident in populist rhetoric. Frequently one hears the accusation that the "establishment Jews" defend "their" nation while trying to destroy "ours" via the media and their political influence. For instance, Kent Ekeroth, MP and international secretary for the Sweden Democrats, says: "The Jewish groups here are ultraliberal… They defend multiculturalism and mass immigration because they think it protects them. If you behave like that you alienate the nationalist parties - and then you are left without friends."

In this way, a utopian Israel is used as a stick to beat European Jewry. This, of course, is the same "racist" image of Israel that leftist and Islamist groups use in their offensives against Jewry.

The tendency is, I believe, only the beginning of a synthesis of racisms within a growing populist movement.

Anna Ekstrom is a journalist based in Sweden

    Last updated: 2:01pm, July 14 2011