It is not “far-right” to hold views that are mainstream

The JC Leader, 23 April 2021


BIELEFELD, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: Neo-Nazis march in support of Holocuast denier Ursula Haverbeck on November 9, 2019 in Bielefeld, Germany. Haverbeck, 90, is serving a two-year sentence for her outspoken denials regarding the Holocaust, which in Germany is a criminal offence. Today's march is taking place on the same day that Germany commemorates Kristallnacht, the 1938 Nazi-led pogrom against synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses across Germany. (Photo by Thomas F. Starke/Getty Images)

April 22, 2021 11:08

This week we report that Home Secretary Priti Patel is proscribing the American neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division. We also report on a Reform movement briefing paper which describes as “far-right” the views of a number of deputies who oppose the re-election of incumbent Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl. What were the supposedly “far-right” views in question? That it is “not the Board’s place to have any position on internal Israeli matters” and that boycotts of Israel and BDS are by definition “antisemitic”. One can agree or disagree with those views but they are entirely mainstream — and the grotesque absurdity of describing them as “far-right” is no more obvious than when seen in the context of the genuine far-right: a neo-Nazi group.

But absurd as it is, it is symptomatic of a disturbing trend among some on the left — both within and outside our community — to define all views which do not conform to the shibboleths of that mindset as being beyond the pale. Argue, for example, that it is wrong for communal leaders to cosy up to Islamist front organisations and you are described as “far-right”. Assert that Palestinian leaders are primarily responsible for the conflict with Israel and you are labelled “far-right”. This is not just a foul slur; it is corrosive and dangerous. It undermines the foundations of democracy by seeking to deligitimise and silence widely held views rather than simply disagreeing with and defeating them through reasoned argument. The lesson of history is that that way lies tyranny.

April 22, 2021 11:08

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