How anti-Semitism came back to the public

Tweet December 7, 2021 @RechtseTokkie: “It’s very bad what happened to the Jews in World War II, but unfortunately I also want to see more and more clearly why people hated those people so much back then.” One month later, on January 11, the same account tweeted: “Islam is the cancer of the world and there is only one effective remedy. #Irradiation” – attached is a photo of an atomic bomb. Two months later, on March 6, tweets the leader of the Forum for Democracy, Thierry Baudet, another message from this account.

FVD members systematically like and retweet anti-Semitic reports, a data analysis from Leiden University showed last week. 10 percent of all forum members’ Twitter activity is a re-tweet or similar of a so-called “diffused anti-Semitic” account – an account that spreads conspiracy theories intertwined with anti-Semitism, such as “QAnon” (assuming the world is led by a satanic pedophile elite ) or ‘The Great Reset’ (the idea that an elite group uses corona for radical change). For PVV members it is 2 percent, for all other parties surveyed 0 percent. Furthermore, an average of 33 out of 5,000 retweets and likes came from accounts that spread ‘hardcore anti-Semitism’ from FVD members. These are stories that call the corona vaccine ‘jewbrew’ and post-Jewish caricatures. With PVV, this was 1 in 5,000, with other parties zero.

The FVD is the only political party where an anti-Semitic Twitter pattern has been demonstrated. Nevertheless, the passionate scientists are careful to draw conclusions. Researcher Peter Burger: “As a scientist, I can not prove the intent behind the messages. Or the ignorant accounts of anti-Semites boost, or whether it is intended as a “dog whistle” for right-wing extremist voters. But we can conclude that there is an overlap between the views of the anti-Semites and the Forum for Democracy. “

It does not surprise him, it overlaps. According to Burger, it fits into a pattern. A study of The Jewish Agency and Department of National Security Studies found anti-Semitic rhetoric among politicians in Germany, France, England, Ireland and Spain, as well as in the Netherlands, also mainly politicians on the radical right flank.

Nearly eighty years after World War II, anti-Semitism seems to be back in the public and political spheres. How is it possible? Bart Wallet, professor of Jewish studies at the University of Amsterdam, has been working on this issue for years. In 2019, he warned that anti-Semitism was slowly returning to the mainstream – it was a year before the news of racist and anti-Semitic messages in app groups of JFVD, the youth wing of FVD.

“From the 1960s was anti-Semitism not finished, very taboo, ”he says. ‘There must have been anti-Jewish remarks at drinking tables, but in public it was invisible. That changed from the year 2000. ” The Internet became widely available – the gut turned upside down. Anti-Semites could now find each other online. “At first it was anonymous, but the more anti-Semitism spread on the internet, the more accepted it became. Now you see people spreading anti-Semitism online under their own name. “

Political factors also contributed to the normalization of anti-Semitism. The political center has shrunk into years. In 2002, the middle parties still won 138 of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives, in 2021 there were only 95. This, together with growing polarization and political fragmentation, has led to election growth on the political flanks. In this political reality, surprising opinions pay off.

Also read: The crisis in the political center

Wallet: “The emergence of populism also gave ‘the lower abdomen’ a legitimate place. Part of populism is namely: ‘air your heart’, ‘say what you have on your liver’. It creates a climate where anti-Jewish feelings can flow up to the surface. ” Moreover, Wallet continues, populism focuses on the ‘people’ struggle against the ‘elite’. And there are countless ancient conspiracy theories in which the ‘Jews’ form an elite government behind the scenes.

Blood adventure

Anti-Semitism is not equally prevalent on both sides of the political spectrum. Researchers from Utrecht Data School studied two hundred thousand expressions of anti-Semitism on various online platforms, commissioned by the Central Jewish Consultation. The vast majority of these expressions on Twitter come from right-wing conservatives – seven times more often than from other groups. There was a remarkable amount of anti-Semitism on YouTube (916 replies). The highest number was found among videos from FVD’s official channel. And also on the internet forum Reddit, there were many anti-Semitic terms to be found in an unofficial FVD subreddit. One user writes: “If I were to say that Jews have been making enemies everywhere for over 2,000 years and rarely gain sympathy from their neighbors, is that anti-Semitic? I do not think so, but it is true. You would be surprised at how Jews are often banished and murdered in Europe, it often has to do with money. “

Earlier this year, workshops in The Hague’s Beemden district in Breda were inundated with anti-Semitic slogans.
Photo by Erald van der Aa / ANP

Peter Burger: “In recent years, there has been a development in which the parliamentary radical right and the extra-parliamentary extreme right grow closer together. For example, you have the repopulation theory, which claims that the white population is slowly being replaced by immigrants, often Muslims, as part of a deliberate plan. That theory is used by PVV MPs and also applies to the extreme right wing, only the PVV believes that the EU is behind it, while the extreme right believes that it is a plan from a Jewish elite. “

Bart Wallet: “There are also left-wing traditions of anti-Jewish characterization. But in the right-wing radical right there are transnational networks. This whole revival of anti-Semitism in Europe is being driven by global alt-right thinkers. It is cynical, but politicians may “adopt these ideas because there are many voters who believe in them. Or do they really believe in them?”

Utrecht research also found that by far the most anti-Semitism has to do with conspiracy theories. Billionaire George Soros’ hatred is driven by anti-Semitism. The age-old theory that Jews are in a ‘cabal’, an elite organization that secretly rules the world behind the scenes. Even the QAnon theory, which (among other things) assumes that there is a Hollywood elite that drains children of their life blood in order to remain young themselves, follows the “template” for blood intrusion – an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory dating back to the Middle Ages and into the past led to pogroms. If you peel off all layers of a conspiracy theory, remove all the rings of Satanism, pedophilia and solitaire, you will find a core of anti-Semitism.

According to Bart Wallet, this is not a surprise either. “Anti-Semitism always comes back. Those kinds of theories come to life when people lose their grip on reality. With the economic crisis of 2008, people no longer understood. They lost traction and they were looking for easy right versus wrong explanations to regain it. Theories about Jews, Freemasons, Jesuits … that unfold because they are in the cultural archive. And because they are centuries old, they seem plausible. It also happened with the refugee crisis, the corona crisis and now with the war between Russia and Ukraine. “

Pro-Israel

It is cognitively a difficult string to walk: to make anti-Jewish statements while being pro-Israel. It is one last notable feature of contemporary anti-Semitism in the Netherlands, and it appears in both studies. A prosecutor by George Soros regularly has the blue and white flag in cinemas.


Criticism of the general definition of anti-Semitism is growing, so there is a new one

There are four reasons for this. First, many anti-Semites see Israel as a Western bastion in the Middle East, says Bart Wallet. “The remarkable thing is that Jews there are seen as representatives of the West, while Jews in the West are seen as representatives of the East. It’s a cognitive disruption. ” Another reason is that Israel is seen as a land ‘for and by’ Jews. The right-wing extremist thinker Jared Taylor said in 2017 to NRC: “If they are striving for a monoculture, we should support it.” The implication of this is that ‘we’ must therefore strive for an ‘ethnostat’. Another reason is simply that anti-Semitism often goes hand in hand with Islamophobia. From that perspective, the battle between Israel and Palestine is a win-win situation.

Earlier this year, workshops in The Hague’s Beemden district in Breda were inundated with anti-Semitic slogans.
Photo by Erald van der Aa / ANP

The last – and most confusing – reason is that many conspiracy theorists believe that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Jews. You have the Jewish elite, also known as the ‘Khazar Mafia’, which controls banks, politicians, Hollywood and pedo networks. And you have the ordinary Jewish people who also suffer under the elite.

FVD was more often under fire for alleged anti-Semitism. In 2020, after research by HP / Time, outwardly that there were racist and anti-Semitic messages in app groups in the youth organization Forum for Democracy. The organization expelled the whistleblowers. Later that year, FVD party leader Thierry Baudet was accused by various forum members of making anti-Semitic statements during a team-building dinner: “Almost everyone I know is anti-Semitic” and: “Corona was invented by George Soros”. In 2021, the JFVD organized the Christmas party – a holiday that some (including former FVD member Theo Hiddema) believe would refer to the Christmas party that the Nazis celebrated. That same December, Baudet asked parliamentary questions about the role of the Rothschild family in ‘our’ government – the banking family plays a major role in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Also in that month, Baudet was ordered to remove tweets comparing the corona measures to the Holocaust. According to the judge, Baudet would have “implicitly downplayed” the Holocaust.

Also read: The Forum for Democracy seems to belong to Baudet again

No media riots

While reports of anti-Semitism at the FVD Youth Association led to a week-long media dispute in 2020, last week’s investigation had almost disappeared from the news cycle within hours. Why?

Wallet: “These studies mainly confirm what we already know. The flirtation with conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic ideology is so consistent and obvious that anyone who follows FVD accounts is quick to reach similar conclusions. This leads to some habituation. Apparently, we as a society are no longer shocked at how much these ideas have taken root. ”

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