Jewish leader blames ‘passivity’ for rise of European far-right

Instead of preventing intolerance, EU has become ‘justification to vote for extremists and racists,’ laments Moshe Kantor

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Moshe Kantor (AP/Petr David Josek)
Moshe Kantor (AP/Petr David Josek)

The European Jewish Congress on Monday blamed the “passivity” of European governments for the worrying rise of far-right parties in European Parliament elections this week.

“The alarming successes of extremist parties in these elections is the result of the passivity of European leaders and governments to deal with real issues facing European citizens,” EJC President Moshe Kantor, who heads the council of European Jewish leaders, said at a Monday meeting with senior Belgian politicians in the wake of a deadly shooting over the weekend at the European capital’s Jewish Museum.

Four people were killed, including two Israelis, in the attack.

“What better example is there of the lack of security, the absence of tolerance and the climate of fear in our European cities than this attack on Jews in the capital of Europe?” Kantor said.

Kantor’s comments came as vote counts from the European Parliament elections, held on Sunday, drew to an end showing a surge in voting for extreme right-wing parties, including some who openly admit their inclinations to Nazi ideology.

In France the National Front party scored 25% of the vote. Austria’s Freedom Party had similar success and in Britain the UK Independence Party, which promotes withdrawal from the European Union, won 27.5% of the national vote. In Greece and Hungary, right-wing parties with openly xenophobic agendas were also set to win seats in the parliament. The National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), which has described itself as “national socialist” — or Nazi — secured a place in the parliament.

“To protect the values of our modern unified Europe we need European leaders to bolster existing legislation against hate, law enforcement agencies to strengthen enforcement and educators to teach against hate, intolerance and xenophobia to the next generation,” Kantor said.

“The European Union is supposed to be the bulwark against the rise of racism and intolerance but it has become the catalyst for the justification of its citizens to vote for extremists and racists,” he lamented.

“There is insecurity and there are real concerns over national identity. The Jewish community knows very well about immigration and we know about how minorities integrate into societies. These are real concerns, as much for minority communities as for indigenous citizens. If we want to combat anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance, we must address these issues,” Kantor concluded.

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