As New Zealand prepares for a national election under a new electoral system, charges of anti-Semitism have been leveled at the party expected to benefit most.
The Alliance Party, which has managed to win backing among voters from both sides of the political spectrum who oppose the country’s two major parties, has been asked to respond to charges that it has given legitimacy to the “Fringe right wing” with its anti-Semitic attitudes.”
The elections are scheduled for later this year, but no specific date has been set, according to an official at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington.
Dr. Michael Cullen, who has actively supported the concerns of New Zealand’s small Jewish community, recently identified a number of Alliance members as former activists for the Democrats, a party mixing eccentric economic theories with anti-Jewish rhetoric.
Cullen, who serves as finance spokesman in the Labor Party government, told a Bank of New Zealand seminar that within the Alliance were people whose world view “includes a kind of obscene anti-Semitism that older New Zealanders will be all too familiar with, that argues that there is an international Jewish financial conspiracy to take over the world.”
“We have clear evidence of their views being held by people who ran as Alliance candidates at the last election,” he added.
The leader of the Alliance, Jim Anderton, refused to respond directly to the charges, but called Cullen’s comments “beneath contempt.”
The New Zealand Jewish leadership has written to all political parties in light of the debate, seeking assurances that they would not endorse candidates who hold anti-Semitic views.