How the European left is betraying the very values it claims to stand for
From Ari Soffer
The nauseating (and somewhat cringeworthy) show of affection on Tuesday between Claudia Roth, the leader of the German Green Party, and Ali Reza Sheik Attar, the Iranian ambassador to Berlin, offered a glimpse into the seedy love-affair between an increasingly large portion of the European ‘liberal' Left (and some of their counterparts across the Atlantic), and the distinctly illiberal forces of global Islamism.
Moreover, the aftermath of the cheesy ‘high-five' moment in Munich provided a perfect snapshot of the political theatre and hypocrisy that is the glue which holds that relationship together.
On the one hand, Ali Reza Sheik Attar's spokesman was left to explain away his public display of physical affection towards a woman, something forbidden by the strict interpretation of Islamic law he is supposed to be following as a representative of the Islamic Republic.
On the other hand, Roth's spokesperson was forced to clarify how such a friendly, supportive gesture between the two correlates with Roth's stated opposition to the Iranian regime and its horrific human rights record. We were assured that whilst she did indeed ‘high-five' the Iranian ambassador, the Green Party leader remains a stalwart supporter of the ‘Iranian opposition movement.' Her show of affection was merely a personal gesture to an old friend, and had nothing to go with her position towards the Iranian regime.
How heart-warming to consider that neither Attar's position as a representative of the very regime which so brutally crushed that opposition movement (and persecutes religious and ethnic minorities, oppresses women, executes homosexuals, and sponsors international terrorism) – nor his own personal implication in the massacre of Iranian Kurds during his tenure as governor of the Kurdistan and West Azarbaijan provinces from 1980 to 1985 – are enough to spoil their relationship.
This is not just a matter of a clash between Roth's own statements regarding the regime, and her actions last Tuesday. In recent times, the European left's very identity was constructed around the notion (however pretentious) that its followers are the guardians of human rights and the staunchest opponents of religious extremism, fascism and imperialism. And yet here we have a high-profile representative of that movement showing affection and support for a man who represents the very opposite: a fanatical, fascistic regime, whose imperialist designs regarding its neighbours are all too apparent – and who himself is implicated in a string of war-crimes on behalf of that regime.
More alarming still is the fact that this phenomenon is by no means limited to Roth or her party.
In the UK, for example, the Islamist-Left love-affair is already part of the furniture. Take this photo of British Green Party candidate Pippa Bartalotti, quite merrily waving the flag of the Syrian neo-Nazi SSNP party during a trip to Syria. Staggeringly, posing with fascist memorabilia did not result in her ejection from a party which portrays itself as the very pinnacle of anti-fascist, European liberalism; instead, Bartalotti was even allowed to run for the position of party leader in 2012. Of course, it goes without saying these days that her endorsement of, and support for, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign – a group whose ties to a colourful array of anti-Semites, homophobes and advocates of Islamist terrorism is well-documented – didn't even figure.
This phenomenon is not in any way unique to the Green Party. Only last year, Britain's Labour Party (another bastion of European liberalism) fielded Ken Livingstone as its London mayoral candidate – despite his beaming endorsement of an extremist cleric who promotes suicide bombings (as long as they're only against Israeli civilians), and a string of pre-election anti-Semitic and borderline-homophobic comments.
Indeed, Claudia Roth's own Freudian slip came only weeks after a Liberal (sic) Democrat MP received little more than a slap on the wrist by his party for a vulgar, anti-Semitic attack on ‘the Jews' for ‘not learning the lessons of the Holocaust', on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. Imagine the furor that would have surrounded a similar statement, were it made by a politician within a mainstream, right-wing party, and the words ‘the Jews' replaced with ‘the Blacks' or ‘the Muslims.'
And this shameful relationship is not restricted to the murky world of party politics. A recent study by Stand For Peace – a UK-based anti-extremist group – exposed an astonishing relationship between Oxfam and ‘groups that support terrorism, religious extremism, anti-Semitism and advocate violence against Jews, women and homosexuals.'
This kind of behaviour is not representative of all ‘left-wingers', whether in Europe or elsewhere. However, this does not excuse those who do not support such hypocritical and immoral political relationships for turning a blind eye.
Unfortunately, for the most part, left-wing politicians prefer to ignore such relationships, perhaps in the hope that the problem will simply ‘go away.' In reality, the silence of the establishment is interpreted as a green light for it to continue.
If a Liberal Democrat MP can court the lowest common denominator by attacking ‘the Jews,' and escape with little more than an ear-bashing – why shouldn't others follow? If endorsing hate-preachers won't get in the way of your nomination as a candidate for the most powerful directly-elected position in Europe – but will likely make you some fairly useful political allies – then why not?
Unless the Left can come to terms with the moral and ethical rot that has set in among its ranks, they should expect it to spread, not disappear. In that case, they will forever be remembered for their role in allowing fascism to stroll in through their front door