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Vienna - Far-right Parties Winning Over Some Jewish Voters, Top Rabbi Warns

Published on: May 31, 2016 07:02 PM
By: Reuters
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FILE - Chief Rabbi of Russia and President of the Conference of European Rabbis Pinchas Goldschmidt gestures during an interview with Reuters in a hotel in Berlin, Germany, February 24, 2016.REUTERS/Fabrizio BenschFILE - Chief Rabbi of Russia and President of the Conference of European Rabbis Pinchas Goldschmidt gestures during an interview with Reuters in a hotel in Berlin, Germany, February 24, 2016.REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Vienna - Far-right parties in some European countries are winning over Jewish voters by exploiting fears about militant Islamists and mainstream parties must do much more to address Europeans’ security concerns, a Jewish leader said on Tuesday.

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Boosted by Europe’s migrant crisis, Norbert Hofer of Austria’s anti-immigration Freedom Party only narrowly lost the country’s presidential election on May 22. He would have been the first far-right head of state in the European Union.

“I understand that, most probably, a not insignificant part of the (Jewish) community here voted for Hofer for the presidency,” the head of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), Pinchas Goldschmidt, told Reuters in an interview.

Goldschmidt, who is also the chief rabbi of Moscow, said he had received reports of a similar shift among French Jews towards supporting the anti-immigration National Front ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections next year in France.

“When God gave out intelligence, not everybody stood in line. And so when those parties come with a populist message to the Jews and say ‘We’re going to save you from the Muslims’ ... propaganda is effective,” he added.

Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem in April - a gesture rich in symbolism, given the Nazis’ role in Austrian history and the flight or murder of most Austrian Jews following the country’s annexation by Adolf Hitler in 1938.

“Not only from the Freedom Party in Austria but also from the side of, for example, the National Front in France ... and also (Geert) Wilders in Holland, they all seem to want us Jews to say they are acceptable,” Goldschmidt said.

Today Austria is home to an estimated 15,000 Jews and more than 500,000 Muslims.

“DANGEROUS” POPULISM

The security threat posed by Islamist militants has become much clearer after last year’s Paris attacks and must be tackled, Goldschmidt said, adding that Europe’s Schengen area of passport-free travel made that more difficult.

“I think that since the populist right-wing parties raised real concerns of people, unless the mainstream parties of Europe are going to address those issues, they’re going to lose.”

Goldschmidt, who was in Vienna for a gathering of the CER, suggested measures including the creation of a European anti-terrorism task force, improvements in border security and more effective integration of refugees.

He also condemned what he said was the tendency of far-right parties to conflate ordinary Muslims with Islamist militants.

“(The) moderate Muslim is our natural ally. They are as much the victims of radical Islamism as we Jews. It is the populism, the generalization, which is dangerous and destructive.”



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Read Comments (6)  —  Post Yours »

1

 May 31, 2016 at 08:10 PM elyeh Says:

Rabbi Goldschmidt is chief rabbi of Moscow, so approved by Vladimar Putin and quite far left. He might think left is the friend of Yidden but the many years in Russia show otherwise. The far left in Europe is the home of much anti-Semitism. So maybe the Europe right now is much better for Yidden? Of course,he can not admit that or he would lose his job under Putin.

2

 May 31, 2016 at 09:14 PM SandmanNY Says:

"The moderate Muslim in our natural ally." What is a moderate Muslim? A former Gaza resident I know (now in academia in CA) said, "A moderate Muslim is one who has run out of bullets!"

3

 May 31, 2016 at 10:31 PM Anonymous Says:

With all due respect to the ruv, the Jewish vote in Europe is insignificant so why make inflammatory comments.

4

 May 31, 2016 at 11:32 PM JoeField1 Says:

I think he might as well write an op-ed here on VIN, we have here lot of dimwitted.

5

 Jun 01, 2016 at 12:01 AM blank space Says:

I met a couple who have made alliyah to Israel because they are frightened by the Muslim violence against the Jews. The reality is frightening to them and so I can understand Jews voting for rightest candidates who promise to stop Islamic terror in their areas.

6

 Jun 01, 2016 at 02:34 PM CommonSense Says:

Reply to #2  
SandmanNY Says:

"The moderate Muslim in our natural ally." What is a moderate Muslim? A former Gaza resident I know (now in academia in CA) said, "A moderate Muslim is one who has run out of bullets!"

A moderate Muslim is the one of millions of peaceful people in this country that you interact with on a daily basis.
Somehow when the Rambam was around he had no problem interacting with Muslims and for hundreds of years we've gotten along fine for the most part.
It's intellectually lazy people like yourself who find it easier to just label everyone in one broad brushstroke that need to open their eyes and stop pushing away our natural allies.

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