In the aftermath of Oslo, concern is spreading about the extreme right and anti-Islam movement. Here on Rocky Mountain Jew we posted last week about the budding relationship between the pro-Israel and the extreme right – some of which have neo Nazi connections – communities. The German government has warned of the possibility of a rise in extreme right violence, and in Switzerland the populist party, which has in the past been quick to ally itself with anti-Muslim sentiment, is busy distancing itself from one of its figures, Oskar Freysinniger, who is also a key leader in the burgeoning European anti-Islam movement.
After an unexpected, tragic event – like that in Oslo, it’s normal for us to reflect and investigate both on a personal, localized level, but also on a global, political one. Naturally many are writing about the extreme right wing and the potential dangers lurking there. But it’s important to define terms in any conversation. Does extreme right mean the Christian right? Conservatives? Nationalists?
For us, the term “extreme right” refers to right-wing, nationalistic groups that typically embody behavior and ideologies not dissimilar to the neo-Nazi movement. When we say extreme right we’re thinking about groups – whether they be formal political parties or grassroots organizations – that espouse racial hostility and bigotry, that vilify foreigners and that brands Islam as a danger.
(As an aside, it’s interesting to note that while the anti-Islam movement overlaps with the extreme right, it also counts as members individuals on the left of the spectrum. These could be people concerned about women and child rights or about freedom in the arts and freedom of expression for example.)
But how does all of this affect the Jewish community?
As we wrote last week, the dangers present themselves in the possible overlaps or commonalities between the extreme right and the Jewish community, specifically regarding Israel. For Jews, Israel is a homeland, something in which to invest, something to protect. Unfortunately for some extreme right groups, Israel has become a weapon in a battle with Islam. Members of both groups may “support” Israel. Does that make them allies?
Another dangerous commonality would be between the extreme right and the Christian right or mainstream conservative movement in America. All three claim to uphold Judeo-Christian values, which there is nothing implicitly wrong with. But for the extreme right, this means “European” values, which quickly turns into racialism. The American right needs to be careful here, not to get mixed up with those who deem a “European” better or more valuable than a “Middle Eastern” one.
Do agree with our definition of the extreme right? Do you think we’re over exaggerating the problems? Post a comment to give us your opinion.