By Prof. Nino S. Levy
Recent expressions by Raphi Eitan’s positive attitude to German and Austrian Far-Right parties provoked outrage from both the government and the opposition in Israel.
Jewish leaders in Europe and elsewhere quickly joined the condemnation, pointing out to the Neo-Nazi record of some of the leaders of the European Far-Right.
It is easy to understand this almost natural reaction to any sympathy and support of Neo-Nazis by the survivors of the holocaust, their sons and daughters.
Some went as far as claiming that the present attitude of Raphi Eitan is a disgrace and a shame to his long years of distinguished service in the Israeli Intelligence and security.
However, there might be a different view of Raphi Eitan’s attitude. Let’s first look at some facts.
Many Left, and Far-Left, European parties are not only critical but are openly anti-Israeli, to the point that anti-Israel has become a new way of expression of the old antisemitism.
This trend has been amplified in recent years by the massive influx of Muslim refugees to Europe. In some of these countries, the Muslim population bears significant political weight. They use their influence, to further fuel anti-Israeli and the-Semitic attitudes in the European Left. They have much more limited or no influence on the European Right.
The Right is gaining momentum in many European countries by waving the banner of the defender of national culture and tradition. The fear of the rising power of foreigners in their countries has carried such parties to ever-growing electoral success.
In their strive for power, the leaders of the Right and certainly the Far-Right parties exploit xenophobic feelings in large sectors of the population, including old antisemitism.
Europe, probably more than any other continent, is still contaminated by the old antisemitism which is strong both on the Left and on the Right of the European political map, and more moderate in the center.
Lei’s examine now what might be the consequences of the above facts concerning Israel.
The probability of Left-Wing governments adapting pro-Israeli policy looks extremely unlikely. To gain popularity in their electorate, they need to distance themselves as much as possible from Israel.
On the other hand, the Right-Wing parties feel that all that prevents them from coming to power is a certain lack of legitimacy. They turn to Israel to get what they need to enlarge their electoral base. If they do come to power, the probability of adapting the pro-Israeli policy of such governments looks certainly better than that of Left-Wing governments.
The fear of Islamization in Europe is real and possibly growing over time. Austria may be the first country to form a Right and Far-Right government in Europe. Others may follow whatever Israel does or does not.
If Israel expresses a flagrant hostility to such governments, it won’t change the popular vote. It may even empower the antisemitic elements in such governments, which now try to hide and distance themselves from their past.
On the other hand, if Israel accepts in face-value their declaration of rejection of their Nazi past, subject to prove in acts and facts, this may lead to long-term support of Israel by such governments. It may even force old antisemites to moderate their message to the new generations.
As a Holocaust survivor, it was also hard for me to accept Rafi Eitan’s statements. But on second thought, maybe this “old fox” sees far more than it seems at first sight?
Prof. Nino S. Levy, co-founded ELTA, an IAI subsidiary and served as its Chief Executive Officer for 10 year and directed the transformation of it to
a reputable world leader in the Defense Electronics arena.
His book “Managing High Technology and Innovation” is used as a textbook by leading universities worldwide. For his research work in ELTA, he received the prestigious “Israel Defense Award”.