The resurgence of European nationalism

European nationalism

Last week we saw the results of the radicalization of Europe’s huge influx of almost unlimited Middle Eastern immigration over recent years with the murderous terrorist rampage in Paris.

This growing extremism amongst the Muslim immigrant classes throughout Europe is nothing new, and has been well-documented for many years now.This in its turn it has given rise to several phenomena, notably growing crime rates (which admittedly is as much to do with social marginalization as with religion), the formation of effectively no-go areas not only for local civilians but for the police too, and along with it all, a push-back against the disgruntlement of local citizens by the politically-correct elites in the media and government who claim that the crime, terror sprees and general radicalization is “nothing to do with Islam“, and certainly nothing to do with massive unlimited immigration.

However, belittling the legitimate concerns of European citizens, and besmirching them by calling them racists or fascists (oh, how that sounds so familiar to an Israeli!), has not had the elites’ intended results. Instead a new European nationalism has emerged, and it cannot be ignored any longer by European governments.

Pegida demonstration in Dresden, Germany

The most organized and well-publicised anti-immigration organization is the Pegida movement in Germany, which Soeren Kern at The Gatestone Institute describes as follows:

Despite efforts by German politicians and the media to portray PEGIDA as neo-Nazi, the group has taken great pains to distance itself from Germany’s extreme right. PEGIDA’s motto is “We are the people!” (Wir sind das Volk!), the same slogan used by East Germans to bring down the Berlin Wall in 1989. The group says that it is “apolitical” and that its main objective is to preserve what is left of Germany’s Judeo-Christian culture and values.

Ahead of the march on December 8, PEGIDA posted the following call to action:

“Dear friends, dear fellow citizens, dear patriots! Monday is PEGIDA Day and today too we want to show that we are peaceful. Bring your friends and neighbors and let us show the counter-demonstrators that we are not xenophobic.”

Placards displayed by protesters in Dresden included slogans such as “Against Religious Fanaticism,” “United against a Holy War on German Soil,” “Homeland Security Rather than Islamization,” and “For the Future of our Children.” There was no visible sign of neo-Nazi propaganda at the event.

On December 10, PEGIDA published a “Position Paper” outlining what the group is “for” and “against” in 19 bullet points. These include:

  • “1. PEGIDA is FOR the acceptance of asylum seekers from war zones, or those who are subject to political and religious persecution. This is a human duty!”
  • “2. PEGIDA is FOR amending the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany to include a list of the right and the responsibility for immigrants to integrate.”
  • “9. PEGIDA is FOR a zero-tolerance policy vis-à-vis asylum seekers and migrants who commit crimes in Germany.”
  • “13. PEGIDA is FOR maintaining and protecting our Judeo-Christian Western culture.”
  • “16. PEGIDA is AGAINST the establishment of parallel societies/parallel legal systems in our midst, such as Sharia Law, Sharia Police, and Sharia Courts, etc.”
  • “18. PEGIDA is AGAINST religious radicalism, regardless of whether it is religiously or politically motivated.”
  • “19. PEGIDA is AGAINST hate preachers, regardless of religious affiliation.”

In a classic case of shooting the messenger rather than heeding the message, German politicians have dismissed PEGIDA protesters as ignorant and racist.

In another Gatestone article, Peter Martino explains the rise of Pegida:

Every Monday evening since last October, thousands of citizens have marched through the city of Dresden as well as other German cities to protest the Islamization of their country. They belong to an organization, established only three months ago, called Pegida, the German abbreviation for “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West.”

On January 10, fearing that the recent Islamic terror attacks in France might lead to even more public support for Pegida, Dresden Mayor Helma Orosz, a member of Chancellor Merkel’s Christian-Democratic CDU Party, co-sponsored in her town a so-called “Lovestorm” event. The aim was to conquer the “xenophobia” of Pegida through “open mindedness and humanity.” Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, another leading CDU politician, claimed that the terror attacks in France had “nothing to do with Islam” and warned against “political pyromaniacs” such as Pegida who suggest otherwise.

Pegida’s worries about the Islamization of Germany concern the seeming intolerance and religious fanaticism that have grown hand in hand with the arrival of Muslim populations unwilling to adapt to Western values.

But by decrying Pegida’s views as “xenophobic,” “narrow minded” and even “inhuman,” Germany’s ruling establishment shows how deeply out of touch it is with the worries of a large segment of the population.

Stratfor address the wider issue of Europe rediscovering nationalism and its implications:

A growing number of Europeans believe that people from other cultures are threatening their national identities and livelihoods. The emergence of Germany’s Pegida movement, which opposes the “Islamization” of Germany, the terrorist attack in Paris and the recent attacks against mosques in Sweden put the focus on Muslims. But the Europeans’ fear and mistrust of “foreigners” is a much broader phenomenon that goes beyond the issue of Islam-related violence. What is actually happening is that Europe is rediscovering nationalism.

Conscious of the dangers of nationalism, after World War II Europeans sought to weaken the nation-state and progressively replace it with the European Union, a grouping of supranational institutions that, over time, were meant to create a supranational European identity. The idea worked for some time, especially at the economic level, where institutions quickly achieved integration. But over the past few years, several changes in Europe have exposed the limits of the project.

The first is the economic crisis …

The second element is immigration…

Moreover, Europe’s economic crisis coincides with a deepening of the chronic instability in the Middle East and the Levant. This instability has led to a refugee crisis in Europe as hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers arrive in Europe every year, most of whom are Muslims.

The third issue is integration. Most European governments operate under the idea that immigration could help the European Union mitigate the effects of their shrinking, aging populations. But many countries struggle to fully integrate the newly arrived. Encountering obstacles such as rigid citizenship laws and pervasive cultural barriers, many foreigners find it hard to feel at home in their new countries of residence. In some cases, this situation continues for generations.

Youth unemployment, lack of opportunities and social discrimination were some of the triggers of the French riots of 2005. A decade later, nothing much has changed in France in terms of integration, while the economic crisis has compounded some of the country’s structural problems, and Islamist groups such as the Islamic State are successfully using social networks to attract Western European youth.

I do not accept Stratfor’s placing the blame mainly on the “rigid citizenship laws” etc. for the lack of integration of Muslim youth. I blame the social structure of the immigrants themselves. After all Jews who have been immigrants in every European country for hundreds of years have integrated very well into their host societies. The same can be said for the Hindu and Sikh immigrants. It is a problem almost solely with the Muslim immigrants. The article  continues:

Western European governments are under considerable stress. They have to deal with immigration from less-developed EU nations while trying to assimilate the asylum seekers that arrive from the Mediterranean. Simultaneously, they face the emergence of anti-immigration parties (from the National Front in France to the U.K. Independence Party in the United Kingdom) and recurring terrorist attacks by nationals who received training in the Middle East. Many Western European countries have to deal with these problems alongside stagnating economies and pervasively high unemployment. The combination of economic malaise and resistance to immigration is seriously challenging the cohesion of the European Union.

Stratfor also explains the problems of the Schengen agreement on border controls within the EU which aggravated the immigrant problem in the first place:

…  In recent months, a debate erupted when the government of the German state of Bavaria accused the Italian government of allowing asylum seekers (who, according to EU norms, should have remained in Italy) to leave the country and request asylum somewhere else in the bloc. Rome demanded more solidarity among EU members in the reception of refugees. From Bavaria’s point of view, the Schengen agreement should be suspended. From Italy’s point of view, the European Union cannot force its coastal nations to bear the sole responsibility of housing the asylum seekers.

The Schengen pact also faces criticism from groups arguing that insufficient internal border controls makes it easier for terrorists to move within the European Union after they enter the bloc. Moreover, some countries have been accused of applying weaker border controls than others. In recent months EU members have discussed ways to improve information sharing across the Continent, but regardless of better cooperation in this area, it is impossible to follow every single potential threat.

And finally there are the simple economic problems exacerbated by unlimited immigration;

At the core of these problems is growing resistance to globalization, understood as the free movement of goods, services and, most important, people. From the Italian shoemaker who cannot compete with cheap Chinese imports to the British factory worker who believes that Polish immigrants are threatening his job, many Europeans believe globalization is a menace to their way of life. The fact that the European Union was built on many of the principles of globalization explains why the bloc is becoming increasingly fragmented and why the promise of a “United States of Europe” probably will never be achieved.

I’m not sure I agree with Stratfor’s conclusion although their description and background of the immigration problem seems accurate enough.

For us Jews of course, the specter of European nationalism always carries a large dark shadow with it. We can hardly blame the Germans, or any other Europeans, for protesting the unlimited immigration of people who have no intention of integrating into European culture, but rather want to impose their own culture – the very culture they were trying to escape from! – onto their new hosts.

Nevertheless my own attitude at least is כבדהו וחשדהו (kabdehu vechashdehu) – “trust but be careful”, or maybe the classic:”trust but verify”.

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21 Responses to The resurgence of European nationalism

  1. Epi B says:

    As MLK said: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

    Scary times, we’re living in…

  2. cba says:

    If the government doesn’t take the legitimate concerns of its citizens seriously, there will be a rise of vigilantism (God forbid). And that would be ugly on ALL sides.

    • anneinpt says:

      Indeed. This is what is so enraging to genuinely concerned citizens. No matter what they do or what their concerns are, they are either condemned for being racists or fascists, or they are ignored. Which leads to the very loop that the leaders are scared of.

  3. Reality says:

    It can so easily lead to Jew hatred.But I do understand the German people.They are frightened rightly so about what is happening in their own back yard

    • NormanF says:

      Islam leads to totalitarianism.

      Germans who have joined Pegida understand this well from their country’s long experience with dictatorial rule.

      To be against this ideology is a necessary step towards preserving German and European values.

      • anneinpt says:

        You’re right of course. It’s just the combination of the words “German” and “nationalism” that resonate so badly for us Jews.

        • lewy14 says:

          annie, that bad resonance is totally understandable.

          I’d say there is a more subtle threat; not a repeat of history for the Jews specifically, but a kind of “collateral damage” for Israel and other countries in general.

          I’d take the StratFor point on “anti-globalism” pretty seriously. European elites staked their power and legitimacy on open borders, free trade, and monetary union. These are running into increasing opposition by the electorate. The anti-Islamist sentiment is part of it, but not all of it.

          The outcome looking to be a close run thing, punctuated by many crisis. Economic and financial crisis will precede any widespread rejection of the European establishment values.

          If and when those free-trade values are overturned, there won’t be revanchist anti-semitic outburst – but there will be a protectionist backlash.

          The consequence will not so much be felt by Jews remaining in Europe, but an Israel dependent on a high tech / high value export economy. This might combine with the exsting BDS movement to create a perfect storm, where barriers to Israeli exports to European countries quickly become severe.

          Even this outcome won’t be purely anti-semitic, but opportunistic – and the US and Asia will feel the brunt of it as well. (See e.g. how popular American technology companies are in Europe.)

          Hedge accordingly.

  4. NormanF says:

    A healthy nationalism is democratic, ethical and humane.

    People who libel it as nazi or fascist don’t know what they’re talking about.

    What does this mean? It means the love of one’s country must balance rights with responsibilities.

    A stable and vibrant democratic society cannot exist without both of them.

    Europe is rediscovering this critical truth and the resurgence of nationalism on the Continent to counter the soft despotism of the EUSSR is more than welcome.

  5. Brian Goldfarb says:

    “13. PEGIDA is FOR maintaining and protecting our Judeo-Christian Western culture.”
    Now, if Pegida really mean that, then they might be right-wing, but they certainly aren’t fascist, nazis or antisemitic.

    After all, no-one is for a Judeo-Christian tradition and also antisemitic.

    The anti(other)-immigrant bit could well be somewhat more debatable.

    While I’m on the subject, anyone notice the UK government and its attack on Islamic extremism today? Brought an immediate response from the UK Moslem Brotherhood Council, complaining about lack of consultation. As my wife commented (we were on our way to a StandWithUs meeting at the time), “methinks the lady doth protest too much”!

    • Brian Goldfarb says:

      Sorry, that should have read “Muslim Council of Britain”.

      • Brian Goldfarb says:

        One of today’s online papers had a photo of a Pegida high-up with a toothbrush moustache and a comb-over. The movement tried to excuse it as a “joke”. Hmm, like Max Mosley in a Nazi uniform (just like certain other over-privileged privately educated rich kids).

        Perhaps I was too hasty in my comment above.

        • anneinpt says:

          Why would he have been so stupid?? His dumbness would put me off if not his (alleged) racism. He’s not even claiming it was a photoshop. My mind has boggled.

    • anneinpt says:

      Your typo was almost Freudian Brian!

      I hadn’t heard about the UK gov’t reaction or the counter response from the MCB. It looks like the Brits are waking up to the extremism in their midst. Or at least, beginning to think about reacting to it after being aware of it for years.

      I agree with your remark about the MCB’s protest too.

  6. Brian Goldfarb says:

    off subject, but vital to our concerns: this evening (20 January) at 21.00 GMT on BBC2 was “The Eichmann Show” on how a US tv station got to broadcast a nightly segment on the Eichmann Trial in 1961. Warning: many scenes of horror in the camps from contemporary (1945) footage, as well as film of the trial itself. It will be available on http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayerfor at least a week and possibly 28 days. Do watch, even if it’s through fingers over the eyes.

    We went to a StandWithUs(UK) meeting last night. My wife commented tonight that she wondered why she was there at some points, but after tonight’s film (drama/doc) she knows why.

    Watch, and you will, hopefully, agree.

    • anneinpt says:

      I’m not sure if I’ve got the stomach to watch it but thanks for the link for anyone who does.

      Why did your wife wonder about being at Stand With Us?

      • Brian Goldfarb says:

        Anne, because it appeared to her to be a talking shop, with no action (even commenting on sites is “action”), and she’s used to being “active”. But, having watched the programme, her attitude was rather “now I know why, even if it is often a talking shop and little else, we need organisations like this: never again!”

        That said, Stand With Us is aimed at student organisations, rather than older people, even if we can provide all sorts of support.

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