The enemy of my enemy

October 25, 2017 by Isi Leibler
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The dramatic swing to the right in the recent Austrian elections is likely to have widespread repercussions throughout Europe. It will also oblige Israel to reconsider its current approach to far right-wing groups….writes Isi Leibler.

Isi Leibler

While many readers may strongly disagree with my views, I feel that the time has come to face reality. Israel is stronger today than at any time since it was founded. But the fact remains that despite a currently friendly U.S. administration, most of the world continues to discriminate and apply double standards toward Israel. No other nation is confronted by adversaries of fanatical cultures that extol evil and death and repeatedly and publicly bay for the destruction of their neighbour – to the indifference of most of the “civilised” world, which merely watches and at best remains silent.

In this environment, it is time for us to overcome inhibitions and intensify efforts to actively seek out alliances, with nondemocratic states or even those whose viewpoints on various issues we strongly oppose.

Some would condemn such an approach as hypocritical and amoral realpolitik.

Yet almost all Israelis are encouraged that our leaders have forged a positive relationship with an authoritarian Russia ruled by Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent who currently displays philo-Semitic sympathies.

In general, Israelis are optimistic – and with good reason – about our relationship with Egypt headed by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Yet, antisemitism still dominates much of the state-controlled media as Egyptian society has been conditioned over the years to hate Israel and the Jews. This may change in time but the reason for the current rapprochement is primarily because we face common enemies.

The covert, albeit somewhat schizophrenic, new relationship with Saudi Arabia is even more bizarre. Fanatical Saudi Wahhabism is the fountainhead of Islamic terrorism and continues to promote it throughout the world. Its hatred of Israel and the Jews knows no bounds and is an integral component of the current Saudi educational curriculum and textbooks and its mullahs are notorious for calling on the faithful to murder Jews, “the descendants of apes and pigs.” Yet the emerging Iranian threat to impose regional hegemony induced the Saudi leaders to covertly cooperate with Israel. Confronting an aggressive common enemy also created this alliance.

Israel has likewise been cultivating relations with India and China as well as other Asia, African, and Latin American states, many of which are not even remotely democratic.

By and large, despite some of the problematic attitudes shared by these new allies, the clear majority of Israelis – across the political spectrum – consider these developments positively.

However, the one region in which we seem to have made scant progress is Europe. The EU has in fact been pouring huge sums of money into NGOs that have actively undermined the Israeli government and shamelessly apply bias and double standards in all their dealings with Israel. For example, at a recent seminar in the European Parliament, a political group uniting leftists invited as one of its keynote speakers, Leila Khaled, the notorious Palestinian terrorist who hijacked two civilian aircraft.

Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, some of the Baltic states and now the Czech Republic, are pro-Israel and distance themselves from the EU policies. Yet these are mainly right-wing nationalist governments bitterly opposed to the flood of Muslim immigrants that Germany and the EU seek to impose upon them. Accusations have been leveled that they are supported by neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers and, in some cases, that is probably true.

Likewise, in Western Europe, we are now also confronted with a host of right-wing populist opposition groups that are emerging in protest to the immigration. These populists are likely to grow stronger, gain influence and may alter the entire political spectrum in Europe.

Needless to say, no responsible Jew could contemplate any association or alliance with neo-Nazis or Holocaust deniers. But the fact that a percentage of such undesirable scum support a particular party should not disqualify that party any more so than the U.S. Republican Party, which is supported by some fringe racists, or the Democratic Party, which is the political home of some vicious anti-Israel and antisemitic elements.

Israel cannot simply distance itself from all of these right-wing groups and must review and weigh each case individually. It is clear that if leaders of governments include apologists for Nazis or outright Holocaust deniers, we can have no truck with them. However, the reality is that despite extremists and even anti-Semites supporting the emerging right-wing parties, many of these groups are overall less hostile to us than leftist governments that support the Islamists and are also becoming increasingly overtly antisemitic.

In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Front achieved 34% of the vote in the recent presidential runoff; in Italy, the Northern League has 19 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 12 in the Senate; Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom became the second largest party in the Dutch Parliament; and Alternative for Germany created an upheaval by emerging as the third-largest party following the September federal election. The latest shock was in Austria where the hard-right Freedom Party became the third-largest party and will become a coalition partner to the winning conservative Austrian People’s Party.

All these parties, except for the Dutch, at one time had fascist elements actively supporting them. Although there are problematic components in the German and Austrian parties, by and large most continue to purge anti-Semites from their ranks, certainly more so than the British Labor Party under Jeremy Corbyn. Significantly, Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the Austrian Freedom Party, has been an enthusiastic supporter of Israel, as have most populist parties.

There are of course boundaries and sometimes this is a gray area but the Holocaust is too deeply ingrained in our psyche to even contemplate an alliance with pro-Nazi politicians.

This is not a simple issue but as long as anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers are condemned and expelled, Israel must consider each case on individual merits, applying equal standards to the Right and the Left. There are very few left-wing political parties that do not incorporate substantial antisemitic and rabidly anti-Israel elements. For example, unpalatable though it may be for some, it is questionable whether the Austrian Freedom Party, whose former leader Jörg Haider in 1999 was considered a Nazi sympathizer, is more dangerous to us than the British Labor Party under its current leadership.

We live in a world where we should seek out allies from all sectors but draw the line with those that harbor outright anti-Semites, irrespective of which side of the political spectrum they are situated.

Diaspora Jewish leaders should not become involved in these issues as Jews unless the parties concerned are antisemitic. This applies to Hungary’s Jobbik Party, the Golden Dawn Party of Greece, Croatian apologists of the genocidal Nazi Ustasha regime and Ukrainian nationalists who today sanctify pogromists or pro-Nazi collaborators.

The Israeli government and especially the Foreign Ministry should analyze the situation carefully and avoid the double-standard mentality that calls for boycotting extremists on the Right but buries its head in the sand when leftist antisemitism emerges.

When in doubt, we should consider our relationship with Saudi Arabia, which I support despite the knowledge that its society remains riddled with hatred against the Jewish people. There are occasions when it is acceptable to collaborate on specific issues with nations or political groups that do not share our outlook and in some cases even despise us, in order to overcome common enemies.

Isi Leibler lives in Jerusalem. He is a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.


10 Responses to “The enemy of my enemy”
  1. Hymie Glass says:

    Well and clearly said, Mr Leibler.
    You are absolutely right.

    Its high time that the Jewish people protected themselves from all the supposed do-gooders in the world, who only do “good” for our enemies. Our problem is that many of our own, including some who live in the US and unfortunately even in Israel, belong in this category. They judge Israel by standards which no other country could possibly satisfy. Despite the daily existential threats faced by Israel, it is home to an incredibly tolerant and forgiving society, military and government. Being a light unto the nations does not mean we should commit national and cultural suicide like western Europe is doing. Misery makes strange bedfellows – if, in order to avoid another attempted genocide, Israel needs to befriend or do deals with some relatively unsavoury states, then so be it. The do-gooders can fret and find other soft targets to harass.

  2. Bill Rubinstein says:

    I’m glad, Isi, that you have the nerve to say this. Boy, do we need you back in Melbourne, rather than the clowns and left wing apologists we have now.

  3. Kitti Papp says:

    Thanks Isi Leibler, precise analysis of the current political landscape in Europe. Indeed, it is time to revise the old reflexes and realise that the Left is in full ally with Islam. They are viciously anti-Israel,and one must be blind not to see that this is a new form of anti-semitism.

  4. Ann E Fink says:

    No doubt there were many Italian Jews who thought/said much the same about Mussolini. I my late Viennese father in law thought Hitler was a great leader, until he confused Western European Jews with those from Eastern Europe. The economist Hayak also advised Maggie Thatcher to beware of importing too many immigrants of different cultures, referring to the scourge of Easter European Jews which had triggered so much anti semitism in his beloved Vienna. Poor Isi, memory loss in old age is so sad.

  5. Johnty Dee says:

    Without recapping the whole article it is obvious that Israel should be talking with nationalist anti-Islamic parties with anti-Semitic fringes and not nationalist anti-Islamic parties with an anti-Semitic core. The English Labour Party is within a class of itself as an anti-Semitic party with a universalistic agenda.

    Whilst French Jews can see the writing on the wall, English Jews habituated by conformity, subservience and feudal fealty think that the seething mass of anti-Semitism that has underscored the English aristocracy for centuries was mitigated or checked by a few philo semitic figureheads in Thatcher and Churchill.

    It is a sobering thought that Putin, despite being a corrupt, authoritarian autocrat is still the greatest man in Europe. Whilst it is in Russia’s interests to foment arab discontent, economic upheaval and anti-Americanism Putin’s lack of general political principle should be used by Israel to extricate itself from American veto dependency in dealing with the savages in Gaza, Judea & Samaria and the rest of the Arab world.

    With Russian assistance it is high time that Israel backtracked from the 2 state farce, stopped the non-existent ‘peace process’, disavowed ‘palestinian’ nationhood or its sovereignty over Judea & Samaria and place Gaza on notice that it’s continued aggression will be met with total blockade, unlimited warfare and population removal to Egypt fulfilling the al-Sisi declarations to this effect.

    This Russian assistance can be obtained by purchasing Russian military equipment that does not come with any strings attached on its use, is cheaper and can be easily modified by Israel, leverage American support (which is not a certainty) and cultivate plan B regarding Israel’s great power dependencies. Russia will play both sides of the line as the Americans do to Israel’s material detriment and loss of life.

    The PLO is a terrorist, mafia organization whose Nazi aims have gained international legitimacy without any moral, political or social Arab cost. This situation must come to an end and Jews that think that democracy and death are preferable to less democracy and freedom from endless Arab terror are hopelessly mistaken.

    It’s high time Israel had a Russian speaking Prime Minister and started to make the agenda. If it is acceptable for both Jordan and the PLO to have Judenfrei laws and agendas respectively then a counter Israeli policy is equally legitimate. Jordan is ‘palestine’ and evicting the incorrigible Arab squatters from this Jewish property should be the focus of Israel’s foreign policy and to hell with Brussels.

  6. Maxine Finberg says:

    I have an Australian friend who has lived in Vienna for many years. I asked her how she felt about the new ruling Coalition which includes the Strache freedom party.
    Being left wing, she is horrified.
    I replied that although I hate what the right wing stands for ( as witnessed by my past family history and the Holocaust ) I fear the left wing more. They are more pro-Muslim and anti-Semitic. Times have changed.
    I agree with Isi Leibler 1OO %.

  7. michael Burd says:

    Isi Leibler Candidly Making sense from Jerusalem once again. If only we could clone Isi and have his no nonsense straight talking style in our community!!!

  8. Dianne Moses says:

    An excellent analysis. I fully support your pragmatic approach to these thorny issues.

  9. john nemesh says:


  10. john nemesh says:


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