BRUSSELS / NEW YORK – “The surge of far-right and anti-Semitic parties in a number of countries is a shock and a reason for great worry. European leaders must address this problem urgently and come up with a strategy to fight extremism. The future of European Jewry is a stake if these forces are not reined in. Extremists must not be allowed to set the agenda in Europe,” World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder said in reaction to the results of EU-wide elections for the European Parliament. He urged European governments to enter into a constructive dialogue with the WJC on this issue.
The poll in the 28 EU member states saw a strong showing of xenophobic and anti-Semitic groups in a number of countries, including in Austria, France, Greece and Hungary. Several heads of European Jewish communities shared Lauder’s view.
“Jews cannot be expected to remain silent when radical or extremist parties that used to be on the margins of politics make it into the top three in several countries, and in the case of France even come out on top,” said Ronald S. Lauder, adding: “Even if they remain a minority in the new European Parliament, these parties will be able to influence the European agenda, unless they are completely isolated. In the wake of the Brussels and Toulouse murders of Jews, it is high time the EU leaders came up with a credible plan on how to combat anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia on the continent, and how to ensure that Jews and other minorities are protected effectively. In this, the voice of the Jewish communities must be heard and concerns about their safety taken seriously.”
WJC Vice-President Roger Cukierman, the head of the Jewish umbrella organization CRIF in France, where the far-right National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen polled 26 percent of the vote and became the strongest party, declared: “This weekend, we witnessed the deadly attack in Brussels, the anti-Semitic incident in Créteil, and the result of the European elections. We are very worried. While the strong result of the FN can be explained with the economic crisis in France, which must be overcome, it is also of critical importance that the mainstream republican parties reestablish trust with French citizens.”
In Hungary, the extreme-right Jobbik party received 15 percent of the vote nation-wide and again became the second largest political force in the country.
In Germany, the extremist NPD polled 1 percent and will send a lawmaker to the Strasbourg-based EU assembly for the first time.
The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which is openly anti-Semitic and whose leaders have denied the Holocaust, became the third-largest party in Greece and got its best nation-wide result ever, polling 9.4 percent.
WJC Vice-President Benjamin Albalas, the head of the Central Board of Greek Jewish Communities (KIS), declared: “It is not only very disappointing that Golden Dawn saw a significant rise in its share of the vote, winning three seats in the European Parliament, but also that other extreme-right parties in Greece and beyond did so well in the elections. A great number of European citizens seem to have forgotten what happened during the Holocaust and World War II. Racism and anti-Semitism are again hitting Europe. It is time for immediate action.”