Anti-Semitic and other criminal worldviews received greater legitimization in the European Union with the recent inclusion of the Laos (The Popular Orthodox Rally) Party in the Greek government.
In 2001 its leader, Giorgios Karatzaferis, while still a parliamentarian of the major New Democracy Party, asked the foreign minister to explain why “no Jews died” during the 9/11 attacks. He has also remarked that “Jewish blood stinks” and compared the Israeli Defense Forces to Hitler.
According to the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Karatzaferis is the publisher of a Greek translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The Laos minister of transport, Makis Voridis, has a fascist past. Deputy minister of development Adonis Georgiadis has promoted one of the most anti-Semitic books in Europe, The Jews and the Truth by Kostas Plevris.
In 2000, the European Union was still willing to react against racist ministers. When the far-right FDP Party of Jorg Haider entered the Austrian government, the EU issued some sanctions against Austria. (These were hardly effective and were lifted seven months later.) Today, even a suggestion of sanctions would sound ridiculous. To survive its dramatic financial crisis, European Union leaders seem willing to accept almost anything.
One finds extreme racist and anti-Semitic parties in many EU countries, which are not (yet?) part of the government. The largest – in percentage of votes — is the Hungarian party Jobbik, which received 17 percent of the vote in the 2010 national elections.
Germany was shocked recently when it became known that a small neo-Nazi group had murdered German Turks and others over the past several years without being noticed. Now many want to prohibit the extreme rightist NPD party.
Anti-Semitism is widespread among European populations. A new report by a government-approved commission of experts finds that about 20 percent of the German population holds strongly anti-Semitic views.
The ancient anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish lust for blood have spread to European perceptions of Israel. A recent study conducted by the University of Bielefeld on behalf of the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation found that 63 percent of Poles think Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians. The lowest figures in the study are from the Italians and the Dutch respectively, with 38 and 39 percent. In Hungary, Great Britain, Germany and Portugal, between 40 and 50 percent think this.
The entrance of Laos into the Greek government is not only linked to the country’s economic crisis, it is also part of the progress of anti-Semitic and other criminal ideologies in the European public sphere.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.