Friday 6 June 2014

What Can We Conclude from the European Elections?

I have observed over the time of the existence of the European Parliament, that the results of European Parliament elections in the European member countries, frequently do not mirror the results of elections in those countries for their local parliaments.  This has provided much food for thought about why this happens.  Is it that the European issues are so substantially different from local national issues that people could choose to vote for entirely different parties?  Could it be that the electorate feels that they can make a statement via their vote for the European Parliament that has little consequence for their everyday lives?

The European Parliament election held a couple of weeks ago is a classic example.  Most of the votes that were cast in the UK went to the UK Independence Party, a party that secured no seats in the last UK parliamentary elections.  David Cameron's Conservative Party was demoted to third place in the European election.   In France, Marine Le Pen's National Front secured the highest number of votes in the European elections, while holding only 2 out of 577 seats in the French National Assembly.  President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party received only the third highest number of votes.  While this is not necessarily the trend in all European countries, it is sufficiently noticeable in a few countries to attract attention and warrant further analysis.

From a Jewish perspective, the most worrying aspect of the results of this European election, is the extent to which right-wing parties attracted support.  Many of these right-wing parties have strong neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic elements to them, something which is commonly known and unashamedly made public.  The reason that these nationalist parties are gaining in support is twofold.  Firstly, many Europeans feel the influx of foreigners to Europe over the past few years, such that immigrants from the Middle East and the Far East are creating an entirely different atmosphere than was previously the case in Europe.  It has also created a security threat in Europe that is unprecedented in recent times.  We all know the realities that we face when travelling by air.  We also know that these security threats are not caused by native-born Europeans (even though some of the terrorists do carry European legitimate passports).  A vote for the nationalists is seen as a vote to oppose the hijacking of Europe, as it has been taking place in recent years.

Of much greater concern, however, is the strength of anti-Semitic feeling evident in Europe, which is drawing people to vote for right-wing parties that promote openly anti-Semitic platforms.  The two right-wing platforms have a link.  The Muslims, who have recently made Europe their home and who threaten the security of the free world, frequently claim to be acting in opposition to Israel.  For many Europeans, the security threat that hangs over Europe and the western world is all Israel's fault.  Many believe that, if Israel was prepared to capitulate to the demands of the Palestinians, all of the world's problems could be resolved.  This gives further fuel to the anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist feelings that are on the increase across the continent.  Anti-Semitic attacks are on the increase across the continent, as has been evident in France and more recently in Belgium.  Jewish communities in Europe, that for many years existed without threat or concern, are now under siege.

Ironically, it is precisely this anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism that is creating the pressure on Israel to capitulate to the demands and threats of the Palestinians.  If the US administration is prepared to accept a Palestinian unity government that is comprised of an organisation that calls for Israel's destruction and is on official list of terror organisations in the USA, it is easy to see why European anti-Semitic organisations are finding much support and strength.  It is also easy to see why the Muslim community in Europe is gaining in power and strength in their local anti-Semitic activities, and in their anti-Israel activities.  The influence of these organisations should not be underestimated.  As much as Israel will always act independently to protect her safety and her security, Israel needs also to be accepted in the international community in order to ensure that she has a market for the delivery of the amazing array of goods and services that are produced in Israel.  This is a critical leg of Israel's economy to ensure a positive balance of payments.

The open nature of the support for right-wing parties in Europe is of real concern.  It gives greater power to the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel agendas that these organisations are pursuing.  It also reinforces the mistaken notion that Israel is the cause of the lack of security in Europe.  For now, this support is mostly manifesting itself in the European Parliament elections.  The greater danger is that these organisations may also enjoy greater support in the national elections of these countries.  The Israeli government should be planning for this to happen.

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