Why Netanyahu sees Poland as Israel's most loyal EU ally despite its ongoing problems with antisemitism
A very important event that happened recently was largely ignored by the media, although it allows us to understand in a new light the ongoing campaign against Corbyn in the UK and âdemocratic socialistsâ in the US.
In January, our media abundantly reported that the Polish Sejm (the lower house of parliament) dominated by the populist PiS (Law and Justice) party endorsed an amendment according to which attributing blame to Poland for Second World War-era Nazi crimes is punishable by three years in prison. This amendment caused great outcry around the world and gave rise to tensions between Poland and Israel since it was perceived as part of a long-running problem in Poland with antisemitism. So it looked just another chapter in the long feud between Christian nationalists and their âcosmopolitanâ Jewish opponents.
But then, the (largely ignored) second act of this affair followed, noted only by a few commentators, my honorable Polish friend Slawomir Sierakowski among them.
At an abruptly convened session in late June, the Sejm rushed through another amendment, effective immediately, reversing the first amen dment â" writing about the responsibility of the Polish people for the Holocaust is now no longer punishable.
In line with the PiS ideology, this amendment nonetheless emphasises the large number of Poles who heroically helped Jews, so that, as they say, PiS had the cake and ate it â" the message was basically: âYou can write about it because there is nothing to write about.â
The first mystery here is the way in which this reconciliation between Polish populists and Israel was accomplished. The entire process wa s carried out in secret, to the point that Israeli-Polish relations were mediated by the countriesâ respective intelligence agencies. Netanyahu, himself a populist, was eager to resolve the conflict with the fellow populist PiS government because he did not want to alienate Israelâs most loyal ally within the European Union.
But how can Poland, with its awful tradition of anti-Semitism, be Israelâs most loyal ally?
We should remember that Poland is no exception here: relations between Netanyahu and Viktor Orban (his Fidesz party and its allies are also permeated by that particular brand of Christian nationalist anti-Semitism) are also more than cordial, not to mention Donald Trump himself who is in the US supported by the anti-Semitic alt-right, while internationally a staunch supporter of Zionist expansionism (moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is surely the biggest proof of this).
The extreme version of this seemingly self-contradictory Zionist anti-Semitism was propagated by Anders Breivik, the Norwegian anti-immigrant mass murderer: he was anti-Semitic, but pro-Israel, since the dtate of Is rael was in his view the first defence line against Muslim expansion â" he even wanted to see the Jerusalem Temple rebuilt. In short, his belief system seemed to go, Jews are OK as long as there aren't too many of them â" or, as he wrote in his âmanifestoâ: "There is no Jewish problem in Western Europe (with the exception of the UK and France) as we only have 1 million in Western Europe, whereas 800,000 out of these 1 million live in France and the UK. The US on the other hand, with more than 6 million Jews (600 per cent more than Europe) actually has a considerable Jewish problem." The ultimate paradox of a Zionist anti-Semite.
And the really depressing fact is that Netanyahu and his partisans act as allies of this tendency â" one among the clear signs (the other being the new Israeli law on citizenship which transforms non-Jews into secondary citizens) that Israel is becoming just another Middle Eastern fundamentalist country, an ally of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Anti-Semites in oneâs own country (in the case of Poland, Hungary and the Baltic states) are nowadays tolerated insofar as they turn into Zionist supporters of the Israeli politics in the West Bank, while leftists who sympathise with the West Bank Palestinians but also warn against the resurgent anti-Semitism in Europe are denounced all the time.
One often hears that anti-Semitism is todayâs biggest left-wing problem. Against this misperception, one should emphasise that todayâs anti-Semitism is populist rather than leftist â" populism always needs an external enemy threatening the harmony of the people, be it Jews, immigrants, Muslims or any combination of the above. The true left is never anti-Semitic â" if it is, it simply means it betrayed its leftist core. Here the logic of the old joke fully ap plies: âMy fiancÃ©e is never late for a date, because the moment she is late, she is no longer my fiancÃ©eâ (replace âfiancÃ©eâ with âleftâ and âlateâ with âanti-Semiticâ.)
One should not be surprised to learn that the push within Israel to condemn Polandâs memory law did not come from Zionist fundamentalists â" it was launched by the Israeli anti-fundamentalist opposition, and Netanyahu only went along with it because he had no other choice.
A new political line of division is thus emerging: anti-Semitic Zionists against those who fight aggressive Zionism and anti-Semitism on behalf of the Jewish emancipatory legacy itself. They should be our allies; they are one of the few glimmers of hope in todayâs c onfused time of false divisions.
Source: Google News Poland | Netizen 24 Poland
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