Jewish group warns against rise of neo-Nazis in open letter

A group of prominent members of Europe's Jewish community on Monday sent an open letter published in The Guardian warning of the rise of neo-Nazi groups in Europe, stressing the recent rise in popularity of Greece's Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) party in the May 6 elections, and condemned the fostering of conditions that nurture extremist and populist sentiment.

"The neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn entered the Greek parliament this month. With its swastika-inspired emblem, Hitlerian salute, reference to Mein Kampf, antisemitic and racist ideology, Holocaust denial, violence against migrants, threats against journalists and personality cult, the party is the lineal heir of the German national-socialist party that led Europe and the world into chaos and bloodshed,» the letter begins.

It goes on to cite the rise of similar groups in Latvia, Austria and Hungary, arguing that «this revival was made possible by the systematic attack by extreme right parties against the republican ideal that recognises that everyone belongs to the same national community, together."

The signatories opine that policies promoting closed European borders, ostensibly as part of the fight against «the Islamization of Europe,» have «also enabled extreme right parties to support –- or even to become members of -– governing coalitions, normalising racist and antisemitic speech along the way. This new extreme right has also paved the way for parties which, just like Golden Dawn, can now legitimately win votes while openly promoting hate speech.

"Faced with this terrifying situation -- exemplified by the election of neo-Nazis deputies in the Greek parliament -- we are asserting our solidarity: we are all Greek Jews."

The letter goes on to suggest that in order to reverse the trend of racism and antisemitism, the people of Europe must refute the dogmas of austerity -- «which is responsible for terrible damage, creating the conditions that explain the success of populist parties» -- and of «the European fortress» -- «which favours the spread of anti-immigrant speeches and the lockdown of Europe's frontiers."

The letter is signed by: Benjamin Abtan, president of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM); Dario Fo, Literature Nobel Prize; Jovan Dijvak, general defender of besieged Sarajevo; Svetlana Gannushkina, Memorial leader in Russia; Anthoy Giddens, sociologist; Amos Gitai, director; Bete et Serge Klarsfeld, president of the «Fils et filles de deportes juifs de France»; Bernard Kouchner, former French minister of foreign affairs; Bernard-Henri Levy, philosopher, writer; Adam Michnik, historian, essayist, journalist, former member of Solidarnosc; Amelie Nothomb, writer; Dominique Sopo, president of SOS Racisme; Oliviero Toscani, photographer; Elie Wiesel, Peace Nobel Prize, writer; AB Yehoshua, writer, essayist.

The group has also started an online campaign, at  

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