There's a dangerous and popular fashion in Europe to be antisemitic and pro-Zionist at the same time

The European identity is under assault by enemies from within

Slavoj Zizek
Friday 27 October 2017 17:21 BST
There have been numerous protests against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban after his announcements about immigration
There have been numerous protests against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban after his announcements about immigration (EPA)

On 24 October 2017, Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary, was reported to have called Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) “a zone without migrants”. He claimed this at the celebration of the anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution, which began on 23 October 1956.

According to him, the countries of CEE have succeeded in rebuffing illegal migration and it is the only zone on the European continent that is free from migrants.

“The Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Romanians and Hungarians should unite in this process,” Orban claimed. He is sure that every upcoming election in Europe will show citizens reflecting his views.

“We want a safe, fair, Christian and free Europe,” he concluded, and warned: “We should never underestimate the power of the dark side,” referencing Star Wars as he referred to the plots of those apparently behind the “migrant invasion”, adding that they “have no solid structure but extensive networks”.

Any association between Orban’s “zones without migrants” and the old Nazi striving to create “zones without Jews” is, of course, purely contiguous.

Hungary/Austria: Thousands rush into Austria ahead of Orban's stricter border controls

In the antisemitic imagination, the “Jew” is the invisible master who secretly pulls the strings, which is why Muslim immigrants are not today’s Jews – they are all too visible, not invisible. They are clearly not integrated into our societies, and nobody claims they secretly pull the strings – if one sees in their “invasion of Europe” a secret plot, then Jews have to be behind it.

This was the case in a text that recently appeared in one of the main Slovene right-wing weekly journals where we could read: “George Soros is one of the most depraved and dangerous people of our time,” responsible for “the invasion of the negroid and semitic hordes and thereby for the twilight of the EU ... he is a deadly enemy of the Western civilisation, nation state and white, European man”. His goal is to build a “rainbow coalition composed of social marginals like faggots, feminists, Muslims and work-hating cultural Marxists” which would then perform “a deconstruction of the nation-state, and transform the EU into a multicultural dystopia of the United States of Europe”.

This disgusting fantasy brings together antisemitism and Islamophobia and confronts us with the paradox of Zionist antisemitism. Remember Anders Breivik, the Norwegian anti-immigrant mass murderer: he was antisemitic, but pro-Israel, since the State of Israel is the first defence line against the Muslim expansion – he even wants to see the Jerusalem Temple rebuilt.

His view is that Jews are OK as long as there aren’t too many of them – or, as he wrote in his “manifesto”: “There is no Jewish problem in Western Europe (with the exception of the UK and France) as we only have one million in Western Europe, whereas 800,000 out of these one million live in France and the UK.

“The US on the other hand, with more than six million Jews (600 per cent more than Europe) actually has a considerable Jewish problem.”

‘Shame on you Orbán’ protest hits Budapest

Breivik thus realises the ultimate paradox of a Zionist antisemite – and we find traces of this weird stance more often than one would expect, from the US alt-right to Orban himself.

Soon after he also attacked Soros in a speech, Orban was visited by Netanyahu, and they soon found a common language: attacking Soros is OK if you support Israel. Netanyahu’s pact with Zionist antisemites is one of the lowest and saddest moments of his career.

It is significant that Trump’s first foreign trip was to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel – if we combine this with his triumphant reception of el-Sissi in the White House, we can see how a new Middle East “axis of evil” is taking form with full US support: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt.

The latest brutal pressure on Qatar was the first big act of this axis, probably a punishment for the positive role of Al Jazeera in the Arab Spring. And, in a similar way, the group of countries enumerated by Orban and which resist accepting refugees forms another new “axis of evil”: Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, the Baltic countries – and now one has to add even Austria.

The most worrying aspect here is the reluctance of Europe to take a clear stand regarding this axis: either to allow its member states to adopt their own politics with regard to refugees, or to adopt efficient measures against those who break the common rules.

Orban, who was only a couple of years ago treated like a pariah, is now not only tolerated but more and more followed as a model. And this is a very dangerous sign for Europe.

The fact that Orban delivered his speech at the celebration of the anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution resonates with unintended ironies. One of the pathetic moments of the 1956 uprising occurred when the Soviet army was closing in on the rebels who send a desperate message to Vienna: “We are defending the West here.”

Now, after communism’s collapse, the Christian-conservative government paints as its main enemy Western multicultural consumerist liberal democracy for which today’s Western Europe stands, and calls for a new more organic communitarian order to replace the “turbulent” liberal democracy of the last two decades.

Slovakia: EU considers personal leadership dangerous - Orban

Orban already expressed his sympathies with “capitalism with Asian values”, so if European pressure on Orban continues, we can easily imagine him sending the message to the East: “We are defending Asia here!”

What is at stake in this conflict is nothing less than the soul of Europe, the two opposed sides of European identity. On the one side, it is the Enlightenment legacy of universal freedom and emancipation; on the other side, it is the politics of particularism, of protecting one’s identity.

If we remain faithful to the Enlightenment legacy, we have to conclude that the true threat to Europe is precisely its “defenders” who spread xenophobia and fear.

The space for these scaremongerers was opened by the economic and political compromises of the European centres of power – populists are filling up the void opened up by European neoliberal technocracy, so that only a new leftist vision can save Europe from its external and especially internal enemies.

In his Notes Towards a Definition of Culture, TS Eliot remarked that there are moments when the only choice is the one between heresy and non-belief, when the only way to keep a religion alive is to perform a sectarian split from its main corpse. This is what has to be done today if we want to keep the idea of Europe alive.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in