The European Parliament has never been friendly to Jewish causes and concerns. In its tolerance of Islamist extremist hate against Israel, the Strasbourg assembly has often been a “useful idiot” for Middle East politicians, who keep their antisemitism for consumption at home and use the language of resistance and liberation when meeting MEPs.
Now, however, the election of two British MEPs from the antisemitic BNP will help consolidate an antisemitic group in the European Parliament.
Poland’s PiS party included candidates on its list associated with the anti-Jewish Radio Maryja organisation. The party leader, Jaroslav Kaczynski, said at a pre-election rally that the EU was “anti-Catholic” — language designed to appeal to deep Polish atavism.
In Hungary, the Jobbik party won three seats. Its leader, Krisztina Morvai, made a rabidly antisemitic comment and then told Hungarian Jews: “Your kind of people are used to seeing all our kind of people stand to attention and adjust to you every time you move. Would you kindly acknowledge this is now OVER. We shall no longer tolerate your kind of terror. We shall take back our country.”
Her rant is echoed by the BNP leader, Nick Griffin. Alas, the old demons of antisemitism, racism and xenophobia have not been expunged from European and British politics, and the low turnout and protest-vote nature of European parliament polls allows extremists to win seats.
Denis MacShane is Labour MP for Rotherham and was Minister for Europe 2002-2005. His book, Globalising hatred: The new antisemitism, was published last year by Weidenfeld and Nicolson