ADL report examines antisemitism and anti-Israel bias in left-wing European politics

Expressions of anti-Israel bias from left-leaning political organizations in four European democracies have devolved into antisemitism and even violent attacks against local Jewish communities, according to a new, four-country assessment from ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) with contributions from European partner organizations.

The report, “Antisemitism and Radical Anti-Israel Bias on the Political Left in Europe,” looks at the antisemitism and anti-Zionism of individuals and movements associated with left-wing political organizations in France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom and similar examples in the U.S. 

“There’s no doubt that the anti-Zionist rhetoric and terminology popular in European left circles are increasingly being adopted and exploited by some in the U.S. political far left,” said Marina Rosenberg, ADL Senior Vice President of International Affairs. “While antisemitism from individuals associated with left-leaning political organizations is generally less violent than the threat of right-wing antisemitism, its increasing penetration into the political mainstream is deeply concerning.”

Featuring contributions from partner organizations, the ADL report provides new insights into how anti-Israel actions and calls for the application of BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) against Israel are increasingly common in leftist political circles in Europe. Their rhetoric influences, and draws inspiration from, some left-leaning activist movements in the U.S.

Contributing to the ADL assessment are the following European organizations:

  • The Community Security Trust, the British Jewish community’s security agency, which monitors, reports on, and educates about antisemitism for the safety and security of the Jewish community. Among other findings, their assessment found that the idea of an all-powerful Israeli or Zionist lobby is one that has found swaths of appeal among the British left. It is common for British Jewish organizations or institutions to be referred to as a “pro-Israel lobby group.”

  • The politics and culture magazine “K., The Jews, Europe, the 21st Century,” which reports on contemporary challenges and opportunities for Jewish life in France and elsewhere in Europe. Today in France, the Jewish community faces not just centuries-old far-right antisemitism and decades-old Islamist antisemitism, but now a rapidly growing left-wing antisemitism that includes both anti-Zionism and traditional antisemitism.    

  • Amadeu Antonio Foundation, one of Germany’s foremost independent non-governmental organizations. In Germany, Israel-centered antisemitism is a major contributor to the normalization of antisemitism, making it difficult to combat the phenomenon in general. Progressive environments in particular are propagating Israel-centered antisemitism, which has implications for culture, art, academia, the politics of remembrance and the political left itself. With all these fields coming under pressure to adopt a stance, Jews are left feeling uncomfortable as a result – not to mention threatened and fearing for their safety.

  • ACOM, a non-denominational and independent organization in Spain that strengthens the relationship between Spain and Israel. In Spain, the neo-Marxist Podemos party and its Communist associates includes politicians who openly defend the dissolution of the State of Israel and who are close to the Jewish state’s most vicious enemies.

The report also identifies common antisemitic themes that emerge from each of the four countries, including claims that Jewish cabals control politics and media; Holocaust trivialization; equating Israel with the Nazi regime; and the false charge that accusations of antisemitism are used to silence criticism of Israel.

“This analysis highlights the need for the American Jewish community and supporters of Israel more broadly to pay close attention to the trends happening in Europe and to remain alert to the potential for them to spread,” said Rosenberg. “This is especially true when it comes to anti-Israel trends and anti-Zionism, where we have seen a blurring of the lines between attacks on Israel and attacks on Jews and Jewish identity.”

Dr. Dave Rich, Director of Policy, Community Security Trust, said, “The UK has experienced how antisemitism in parts of the left can have a profound impact on Jewish communities, and on wider politics, if it is left unchallenged and unchecked. We hope this report will add to broader understanding of the main ideas and themes of this kind of antisemitism, both in the UK and elsewhere, to ensure that it no longer has such space to grow.”

Stéphane Bou, the editor-in-chief of the magazine, “K., The Jews, Europe, the 21st Century,” said, “Today in France, the Jewish community faces not just centuries-old far-right antisemitism and decades-old Islamist antisemitism, but now a rapidly growing left-wing antisemitism that includes both anti-Zionism and traditional antisemitism.”

Tahera Ameer, Program Director of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, said, “Antisemitism is a problem for society as a whole. And it also affects parts of the left, where Israel-related antisemitism in particular is a growing issue, which we must tackle. Age-old conspiracy myths are given a new lease of life in the name of supposedly progressive politics. But we also shouldn’t forget that there has always been left-wing criticism of antisemitism, which we must continue to support and encourage. This gives hope and offers the possibility to build powerful alliances.”

Angel Mas, President, ACOM, said, “Sixty years ago, before Spain’s transition to democracy, antisemitism maintained its classical forms and was clearly associated with very conservative segments of society. Today, as in the rest of Europe, traditional antisemitism, now disguised as anti-Zionism, predominates on the whole spectrum of the political left.”v

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