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Behind the Headlines Anti-semitism in Europe

The further strengthening of Britain’s racist National Front Party is predicted in a study of European anti-Semitism published here this week. C.C. Aronsfeld, in a research paper issued by the Institute of Jewish Affairs, says that the National Front, the strongest force of organized anti-Semitism in Europe, is benefiting from Britain’s economic difficulties and the deep frustrations, especially in the middle classes, over her decline in the world.

According to Aronsfeld, the IJA’s senior research officer, the most sinister brand of anti-Semitism is represented by attempts to vindicate Hitler by denying his crimes. An example of this is the leaflet, “Did Six Million Really Die?” Whose author is believed to be Richard Verrall, editor of the National Front organ, “Spearhead.”

The Front also plays up Zionism and the “Jewish question” as “a central issue in the struggle for the salvation of British nationhood” and the most is made of the fact that Israeli Premier Menachem Begin, was once on “anti-British terrorist.”

In West Germany, organized anti-Semitism is rife among 140 far right-wing bodies, with a membership of just under 20,000, though the circulation of the far-right press has increased from 180,000 in 1976 to 250,000 in 1977.

Another ominous sign, Aronsfeld writes, is a certain indifference to anti-Semitism reflected in the leniency shown by some courts to canvassers of neo-Nazi propaganda. In West Germany, this tendency may receive a fillip by the current concern with terrorism. “Owing to difficulties in dealing with this terrorism, Germany is in a mood which may encourage a critical assessment of the foundations of democratic government,” he writes.

In France, on the other hand, anti-Semitism appears to be declining. The paper cites a poll conducted last spring showing that no more then about five percent of the people approached felt about antipathy to Jews. The strength of organized anti-Semitism, too, is described as “negligible.”

Aronsfeld concludes that while militant anti-Semitism in Western Europe still does not amount to much, its manifestations should be watched warily because of the general atmosphere of instability and ideological confusion.

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