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A high-profile conference on anti-Semitism was recently held in Vienna, Austria. While the official purpose of the conference was to discuss current and future challenges, much of the expert panel appeared to be mentally stuck in the past. Disproportionate energy and time was focused on populist right-wing governments in Europe instead of the threat emanating from militant Islam that seeks Israel’s destruction and terrorizes Jews and non-Jews in Europe and beyond.
A conference on Jew-hatred in Vienna undoubtedly brings images of the city’s troubled Nazi past. However, we live in 2018 and not 1938. While many people have reservations regarding the populist right-wing governments in countries like Austria, Poland or Hungary, none of them have policies that threaten the Jewish state or European Jews. Quite the contrary. Despite the controversial Holocaust legislation issue, Poland and countries like Hungary remain some of Israel’s staunchest supporters in the European Union.
A large protest banner at the anti-Semitism conference stated, “Mr. Kurz! Your government is not kosher!” However, there were no banners decrying the explicitly anti-Semitic regimes in Gaza, Ramallah, Damascus or Teheran.
Yes, it is true that the current Austrian government includes the controversial populist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), with its troublesome past Nazi links. However, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is certainly not an anti-Semite and supports strong ties with Israel and the Jewish world. The current FPÖ chairman, Heinz-Christian Strache, has abandoned the anti-Israel position advocated by his predecessor Jorg Haider and supports moving the Austrian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Epicenter of Jew-hatred has clearly moved
Some observers suggest that FPÖ’s warming towards the Jewish state is part of the populist right-wing party’s strategy to cultivate a new image of political moderation. Whether true or not, none of the governments in Vienna, Warsaw or Budapest advocate the destruction of Israel or threaten the Jewish people.
While right-wing extremism remains a problem in much of the West, the epicenter of Jew-hatred has clearly moved from Christian Europe to the Islamic Middle East. The star of the conference, French-Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, did admit that Nazism has been exported to the Arab world. However, Levy failed to recognize that indigenous Middle Eastern Islamo-fascism is no less lethal than imported Nazism from the West.
Like Hitler, Islamists have imperial ambitions and are driven by an obsessive genocidal Jew-hatred. Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas do not merely oppose specific Israeli policies, but explicitly seek the destruction of the Jewish people. Islamists also do not make a distinction between Israel and Jews living in the Diaspora. Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah has, over the years, carried deadly attacks on Jewish targets abroad, such as the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the Israel embassy in Argentina and Israeli tourists in Bulgaria.
So why is the threat from fringe far-right movements exaggerated while the much more serious threat from Islamists is largely ignored or understated? Unfortunately, the answer is political correctness, post-colonial guilt and the racism of low expectations towards the epicenter of current Jew-hatred: the Muslim and Arab world. As long as there is no international pressure on the Islamic world to moderate, the menacing challenges affecting Jews and non-Jews alike will only continue to grow in the future.
By World Israel News, Daniel Krygier, Political Analyst