Why has an Israeli Nazi-hunter embraced Germany’s neo-Nazis?

While the Israeli government continues to feign outrage at Poland’s law tacitly protecting Holocaust revision and denial, modern-day Nazi politicians and their Israeli colleagues continue to tighten their embrace.

In the latest incident exposing their ideological affinities, Rafi Eitan, the Mossad agent credited with capturing the leading Nazi Adolf Eichmann in 1961, recorded a video praising Alternative for Germany, the neo-Nazi party that surged to almost 100 seats in Germany’s general election last September.

AfD – as the party is known by its German initials – proudly posted the video on its Facebook page, quoting key parts.

AfD also provides the text of Eitan’s written message to the party marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“I wish you with all my heart that you will be strong enough to end the policy of open borders, stop the further Islamization of your country and protect its citizens from terrorism and crime,” Eitan states in the video (see above). “In Israel, in Germany, in Europe. Let us do this together.”

Eitan wishes AfD to be not just an “alternative for Germany,” but an “alternative for Europe.”

Describing himself as a “friend of Germany,” Eitan urges that Europeans “close their borders as quickly as possible against Muslim mass immigration” and create “international alliances offering solutions for asylum seekers outside their country.”

“There’s no other way to keep your country safe,” Eitan states.

The Mossad veteran sends greetings to party leaders including Beatrix von Storch, who was recently the subject of a German police investigation for her anti-Muslim outbursts on social media.

Embarrassment

Eitan’s message was an immediate public relations crisis for Israel, the self-declared Jewish state that markets itself as the guardian of the memory of the millions murdered by Adolf Hitler and his accomplices across Europe.

“I fully object to Rafi Eitan’s statement made earlier,” Israeli ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff tweeted. “I find it hard to imagine how the man who caught Eichmann bringing him to trial in Israel, would praise Germans that are proud of the Nazi past and hope that such views could be an alternative for Europe! Sad and shameful.”

And in light of the embarrassment, Eitan has superficially backed off his comments.

But it’s not so hard to understand the affinity drawing Eitan to AfD, as his message perfectly expresses what today binds Israel and Europe’s new Nazis: a shared Islamophobia in which incitement and hatred against Muslims has become the superficially acceptable replacement for European anti-Semitism.

An old-new friendship

Today, European and American neo-Nazis wear their support for Israel on their sleeves, and use the blessings of figures like Eitan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to whitewash their anti-Semitism and white supremacy.

Eichmann perfectly personifies how the alliance between Nazis and Zionists is an old one.

As Columbia professor Joseph Massad has noted, Eichmann’s 1961 abduction by the Mossad spy agency in Argentina and his subsequent trial and execution in Jerusalem was not his first time in Palestine.

In 1937, Eichmann went to Palestine as a Nazi envoy and came back, as Massad states, “full of fantastic stories about the achievements of the racially separatist Ashkenazi kibbutz, one of which he visited on Mount Carmel as a guest of the Zionists.”

Moreover, in 1934, Der Angriff, the newspaper run by Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, published a series of articles and struck a medal to commemorate a joint visit to the Zionist colonies in Palestine the previous year by SS officer Leopold von Mildenstein and Zionist Federation official Kurt Tuchler.

On one side the medal bears a Star of David and the legend “A Nazi travels to Palestine,” and on the other side is a swastika.

“Nazi roots”

Meanwhile, AfD’s counterpart in Austria, the Freedom Party, is demonstrating that the embrace still goes both ways.

Heinz-Christian Strache, the head of the Freedom Party and now Austria’s vice-chancellor, extended an invitation to Vienna to Yehuda Glick, the lawmaker from Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party who is one of the leading figures in the Israeli government-backed movement that aims to build a Jewish temple in the place where Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock now stand.

According to the newspaper Haaretz, the Israeli government “has not yet adopted a clear stand regarding meetings between senior Israeli officials and the new vice-chancellor, who heads a party with Nazi roots.”

They’ve certainly had time to think about it, as Strache and Glick are old friends who have met before.

Glick reportedly tweeted that he was looking forward to meet “one of Israel’s most senior friends in Europe.”

In reaction, Ksenia Svetlova, a lawmaker from the Zionist Union opposition, warned that “meetings with leaders of anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi parties lend legitimacy to activists who wink to Israel with one eye while nodding at Israel-haters.”

She is proposing a bill “which would deny entry into Israel to people who deny the Holocaust or who have uttered anti-Semitic expressions.”

Tellingly, Haaretz reports Svetlova has found that “no Knesset member on the right whom she’s approached has agreed to support her.”

Israel whitewashing Holocaust deniers

The reason is clear: it would keep out too many of Israel’s friends. Many of Israel’s strongest supporters today are far-right European governments and parties nostalgic for the fascist past and keen to obscure their countries’ role in it. Supporting Israel is the fastest way to absolution.

But for some staunch supporters of Israel it’s hard to stomach.

Efraim Zuroff, the head of the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a US-based Israel lobby group, told The Jerusalem Post that the Netanyahu government’s recent criticisms of Poland were disingenuous.

Netanyahu and other Israeli prime ministers have been tolerating “Holocaust distortion” for the last 15 years in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Croatia and Ukraine, Zuroff told the paper.

One could easily add Hungary and Poland to that list.

“This didn’t start today – it has been going on for years, and Israel was totally silent,” Zuroff said.

And besides, Israel is too busy passing laws designed to keep out human rights defenders who abhor racism and who are struggling for full freedom and equality for Palestinians by ending Israeli occupation, apartheid and settler-colonialism.

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While these cordial relations are playing out in full view, with diplomatic receptions and mutual endorsements, speaking out against the racist character of Zionism is portrayed as antisemitism. And laws are being written to silence and punish whomever would violate the taboo. But the best argument that Zionists and anti-Semites share fundamental beliefs is provided by indiscreet Israelis such as Rafi Eitan along with many, many other figures on the contemporary scene. Thanks for picking up on this particular example and bringing it to our attention.

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before the second world war 1939, anti-Semitism was rife in Europe. Poland, Czechoslovakia, Germany, France, Russia all has anti-jewish Pogroms. The present Polish Government or the one in 1939 before the German Invasion committed Holocausts. The SS recruited Poles, Ukrainians ,Estonians and others to serve as Concentration Camp Guards and help Massacre Jews with the Einsatzkommandos.

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Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.