Addressing a recent rally in Frankfurt, a self-identified Israeli man equated Muslims with Nazis, murderers and rapists, and implored the crowd to “never feel ashamed” of Germany’s past.
The rally was called by Pegida, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, a far-right organization founded last October in Dresden. Its demonstrations initially attracted hundreds of people protesting what they believe is Islam’s takeover of Germany. More recently, the number of people to attend has been in the thousands.
An assortment of rightwing groups, including neo-Nazis, have been taking part. Following the attacks on the paper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris last month, a 12 January rally drew more than 25,000 people.
A video, which was posted to YouTube by Journal Frankfurt last week, shows a man, wrapped in a German flag, describing himself as an Israeli with German heritage during a Pegida rally.
“I come from Israel. Germany is yours!” he tells the crowd, to thunderous cheers.
He continues: “Germany’s not Nazis. I am Jewish. My family lived here in Germany for 700 years. And I can tell you that I see here no Nazis. The Nazis are in the left.
“Right here I see only patriots who love their country and want to save Germany from the Islam that wants to take over, to take your traditions, to take your beliefs, to take all of you down. But we will not let it.”
After naming Muslims as the true Nazis, the man goes on to forgive Germany for the Nazi-led genocide of European Jews during the Second World War.
“We will stand together and we will face the real Nazis. The Nazis are inside the Islam mentality and those who want to sell Germany for votes,” he says, adding, “Israel is with Germany. We respect you, we forgive, we love you. You are the best country in the world. Save it.”
“All the world is looking at you now and we are proud. You are the true spirit of Germany,” he snarls. “Islam wants to take you and to drink from the milk of Germany.”
As the hate sermon continues, the man implores the crowd to “Never feel ashamed of yourselves, not even because of the past.”
He then declares himself a proud Islamophobe while advancing a blood libel against Muslims, characterizing them as rapists and murderers who must be feared.
“The Muslims say that we are Islamophobes. Yes, I am Islamophobe because phobia is fear and I am afraid of murder. I am afraid to be raped,” he roars.
“So they can call you Islamophobes, they can call you Nazis and racists. But we are not. We are Germans. We are patriots. We love this country.”
“Antifa [German slang for anti-fascists], fuck you! We are stronger! We will win!”
Mosque defaced with swastikas
As smaller Pegida offshoots spread to other parts of the country, they have sometimes been met with even larger anti-racist counter-demonstrations.
Yet Pegida’s reach is growing as the group held its first demonstration in Austria, on Monday night. In the lead-up to the march, vandals defaced a Vienna mosque with swastikas. This was just the latest in a string of anti-Islam attacks across Austria. “In December unknown culprits left a pig’s head and intestines in front of the door of another mosque in the capital. A street sign was changed to read ‘Sharia Street’ in September,” the news agency AFP reported.
In recent years, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant incitement has become a rallying cry of the increasingly popular rightwing elements undergoing a resurgence across Europe. Although many right-wing European parties have neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic roots, they identify deeply with Israel and Zionism, which are often used as vehicles to promote hatred for Islam and multiculturalism in Europe as well as the United States.
In some cases, formerly anti-Semitic political parties have seamlessly projected the anti-Semitic rhetoric they once espoused against Jews onto Muslim communities.
Speaking to the media on the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Mattias Karlsson, leader of the far-right Swedish Democrats (SD), said, “the threat of Islamism is perhaps greater than it is from Nazism.”
Rooted in fascism and the country’s neo-Nazi movement, SD captured 13 percent of the vote in the last general election, making it the third most popular political party in Sweden.
Kent Ekerot, an SD member and Jewish parliamentarian, has helped forge his party’s close relationship with the Israeli government. Although SD leaders continue to espouse anti-Jewish attitudes, Ekerot insists that anti-Semitism in Sweden is entirely “imported” and a result of “unrestricted immigration” of Arabs and Muslims, which he and his party fervently oppose.
Emran Feroz, a journalist based in Germany, detailed the convergence of pro-Israel attitudes and right-wing European Islamophobia in an article for AlterNet last month:
Right-wing parties like the Austrian FPÖ [Freedom Party] have discovered that it is much easier for them to spread their hatred beneath pro-Israel cover. For instance, the FPÖ made it clear that “supporting the Jewish State against Islamism” has become one of their new political pillars. Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, has learned the same lesson, scrapping her father’s overt anti-Semitism and opposition to Europe’s special relationship with Israel and replacing it with an aggressively neoconservative outlook. In turn, she has attracted support from right-wing French Jews and cultivated a mainstream appeal her father [Jean-Marie Le Pen] could have only dreamed of. But the seething racism that was a hallmark of her father’s politics remains firmly entrenched in the platform of her National Front.
Geert Wilders and his Party of Freedom [in the Netherlands] were among the leaders of the European far-right’s alliance with Israel’s rightist Likud. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal, an American neoconservative operative funded by right-wing billionaire Sheldon Adelson, Wilders declared that Israel is the “only light of democracy in the Middle East.” He then demanded that the European Union and the United States stand by Israel’s side in the clash of civilizations — a war pitting the “Judeo-Christian” West against Islam. Wilders declared that the name of the state of Palestine should be changed to “Jordan,” suggesting that Palestinians either be forcibly expelled from their homes or stripped of national identity. In 2014, Wilders agitated unsuccessfully but flamboyantly for a commemoration for former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon in the Dutch parliament.
This hate is not isolated to the far-right, which only represents the most bellicose strain of an Islamophobia that is entrenched within the supposedly enlightened mainstream.
Nor is the hate isolated to Europe.
From Dresden to Austin
On 29 January, when Muslim men, women and children from across Texas gathered in Austin to meet with lawmakers and learn about the political process during the seventh annual Texas Muslim Capitol Day, they were met with anti-Islam protesters waving Texas and Israeli flags and holding signs that read, “Radical Islam is the new Nazi” and “Go home & take Obama with you.”
As Muslim schoolchildren sang the American national anthem, the demonstrators shouted in their faces, “Islam is a lie!” and “No Sharia here!”
Prior to the hate fest, Texas lawmaker Molly White took to Facebook to say that despite being away for recess she instructed her staff to subject Muslim constituents to loyalty oaths as a condition of entering her office, where she left an Israeli flag on her desk as an apparent symbol of her allegiance to America.
“I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws,” White wrote on her Facebook page. “We will see how long they stay in my office.”
This followed a similar anti-Muslim demonstration in Texas last month. As The Electronic Intifada’s Patrick Strickland reported at the time, the Israeli flag was waved alongside the American flag by white Christian extremists to signify their hatred for Muslims.
Israel is not responsible for the anti-Muslim hatred sweeping the West. But its role as a symbol of and cover for hate reflects shared values and a growing alliance between support for Israel and right-wing hatred for Islam in the West.
- Swedish Democrats
- European Union
- Charlie Hebdo
- Second World War
- Kent Ekerot
- Emran Feroz
- Marine Le Pen
- National Front
- Geert Wilders
- The Jerusalem Post
- Benjamin Weinthal
- Ariel Sharon
- Molly White
- Mattias Karlsson
- Sheldon Adelson
- Barack Obama