European Rightists’ December Visit to Israel

Newsweek recently had an article on some right-populist European politicians in Israel:

To the casual observer, the visiting Europeans at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial in the hills above Jerusalem, looked like any other foreign delegation….

But these were no ordinary travelers with Zionist sympathies. Rather, on this trip to Israel were a Belgian politician known for his contacts with SS veterans, an Austrian with neo-Nazi ties, and a Swede whose political party has deep roots in Swedish fascism…

The delegation formed part of a group called “European Counterjihad”, and the visit was described by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff at the time:

Unlike most dignitaries who visit Yad Vashem, our delegation lay its wreath in the Valley of the Communities, which is a massive 2.5 acre monument literally dug out of natural bedrock.

According to Newsweek, officials at Yad Vashem were not aware of their presence. Newsweek notes the following participants:

Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the Austrian Freedom Party; Filip Dewinter, head of Belgium’s ultranationalist Vlaams Belang; René Stadtkewitz, founder of the German Freedom Party; and Kent Ekeroth, the international secretary for the Sweden Democrats, a populist anti-immigration party.

Sabaditsch-Wolff adds to this list of delegates Hilmar Kabas and Andreas Mölzer (both of the Austrian Freedom Party), and Marc Doll (of the German Freedom Party). A couple of political “colleagues” also appear in photographs, but are unnamed; a post on PI (in a post since deleted for some reason) further adds David Lasar (var. David Lazar), who is also with the Austrian Freedom Party.

The delegation met some Israeli politicians:

…The mayor of Ashkelon, Benny Vaknin… invited us to City Hall, where we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves and the members of the delegation.

Vaknin is pictured with Eliezer “Cheetah” Cohen, a National Union MK. This was followed by a trip to Ariel:

Following a tour of the university center, we were invited to meet the mayor of Ariel, Ron Nachman, who is also the city’s founder.

Further:

The Austrian MSM as well as the political Left (including official Austrian Jewry) have been unable to deal with Strache’s trip to Israel. Ariel Muzicant, the president of the Austrian Jewish community, has gone so far as to ask the Israeli ambassador to Austria for assurances that no Israeli politician meet with Strache and his delegation. Muzicant now has a problem: Not just a politician met him, but several, and he was also received by a close confidante of prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu, deputy minister Ayoub Kara.

In the Knesset the delegations held discussions with a prominent member of the Shas party, Rabbi [Nissim] Zeev, and met with Giora Fortis, the former military adviser to Israeli president Chaim Herzog, now press officer of the Knesset.

A visit to the small museum honoring Gush Katif, a former Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip, ended the 100-hour-long visit to Israel. Paul Weston and I were able to deliver our speeches, interrupted only by the arrival of Deputy Minister for Development of the Negev and Galilee, Ayoub Kara, who gave a short speech in which he supported the new European Right.

Newsweek adds the detail that the trip to Yad Vashem was arranged by a “right-wing Israeli businessman named Chaim Muehlstein” (var. Haim Muehlstein). Details of this person are scarce, although he was mentioned in a Die Spiegel article about Stadtkewitz in January:

…Stadtkewitz is headed for Copenhagen to attend the international conference of the Free Press Society, a group critical of Islam.

…Stadtkewitz is standing at the window, looking out at Copenhagen under a blanket of snow. A short man in a black suit taps him on the shoulder: Chaim Muehlstein from Israel.

“We are pinning our hopes on you, here in Europe,” says Muehlstein, “you and the other parties.”

Stadtkewitz smiles, looking inspired.

4 Responses

  1. Hi there Richard. Coincidentally I did a post on this, from the same source, a little while ago. I titled it “Righteous among the nazis” which I was rather pleased with. But the reason I came here is because I was looking for your take on the working definition of antisemitism a la FRA/EUMCXR. Apparently it has never been formally adopted by the EU but it is being adopted by some groupings (as you noted in your post) and I have read that it is now being proposed by the Birmingham Uni anti-racism officer to be made policy at the Uni. I really don’t know if it is a hoax but if you can be bothered to wade through some of the comments here and here and here you will get some idea of just how insidious (not to mention pretentious) some of the argumentation by various Israel advocates is.

    As an anti-zionist I am concerned that this thing is simply aimed at silencing criticism of Israel but as a Jew I am concerned that its logical corollary is to essentialise Jews as zionists or at least as being intrinsically linked to the State of Israel. In fact, I don’t recall if you picked up on it yourself, I would say that the working definition is antisemitic in itself as it says it is antisemitic to hold Jews responsible for the State of Israel but then lists criticisms of Israel that “could” be antisemitic subject to “context”.

    I don’t know where to go with this but I don’t see nearly enough being done against it. I wonder if you could revisit the whole thing with maybe a post of your own.

  2. Mark

    There’s an interesting essay in Sayyid and Vakil’s ‘Thinking Through Islamophobia’, by S Sayyid, called ‘Out of the Devil’s Dictionary’, which includes a comparative discussion of the Runnymede definitions of anti-Semitism (1994) and Islamophobia (1997).

  3. Thanks for that but do you have a link or are you recommending I buy the book?

    Richard – sorry to crash your thread with this off topic stuff but I’m a worried man.

  4. […] was formerly with UKIP, and he was elected chairman of the BFP just a couple of weeks ago. Back in March, he was part of a delegation of European rightists to Israel – he and Elisabeth […]

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