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The Link Between Rising Antisemitism in Europe and the Jewish State

11/08/2014 16:12 BST | Updated 10/10/2014 10:59 BST

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Former Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton is right in suggesting that Antisemitism might be fueling the current criticism towards Israel.

Israel's latest fight against Hamas has exposed poisonous Antisemitic sentiments that evidently fester in many Europeans' minds.

It is not the actual expression of views towards Israel's actions that is disturbing, but the simmering hatred towards Jews which the current conflict has brought to the surface.

Hatred fed by misinformed individuals who seem to have fallen prey to conspiracy theories of a Jewish plot to dominate the world.

"There are more demonstrations against Israel by an exponential amount than there are against Russia seizing part of Ukraine and shooting down a civilian airliner. So there's something else at work here than what you see on TV" says Clinton, echoing my bafflement at a world where thousands killed in Syria and the innocent girls kidnapped by Boko Haram are forgotten, but Israel's actions in Gaza sees demonstrators out in force.

"Jews are fleeing Europe" says Newsweek, while The Guardian speaks of European Antisemitism being "in worst times since the Nazis"; just as in Nazi times, today's antisemitism feeds on ignorance of facts and herd mentality, but unlike Nazi time Europeans, we now have free, instant access to information. I urge those criticising Israel to turn to Wikipedia and read of Tel Aviv 'the Start Up capital', read about Israel where women have equal rights, gays live freely and openly, democracy reigns, nobel prize winning science, technology and medicine thrive, complete religious freedom exists, where hundreds of thousands frequently march for peace and where ground breaking medical invetions come to life.

In light of the growing Antisemitism in Europe, I chose to share my recent conversation with Rudolf Hess's grandson who poignantly reflects on the rise of European far right and the dangers of herd mentality. Freshly back from an eye opening visit to the Jewish state, the Auschwitz commander's flesh and blood speaks of the similarities between today's Europe and that of the 1930's and the urgent need for politicians to fight extremism.

I listen intently to Rainer Hess, frighteningly aware that I am engaged in conversation with Rudolf Hess's own flesh and blood; the man who under Hitler's rule, has perfected the method of exterminating millions of Jews in the name of Aryan supremacy.

"It is no longer just Jews who are at the receiving end of far right hatred but all minority groups" Rainer Hess tells me, "it pains me to see that politicians are complacent about the scary reality. We must deprive the far right of any political power by voting against them, I want politicians to act immediately, not in five or fifteen years time when it is too late and we have fallen into the abyss".

Rainer's passion is unmistakable as he talks about fronting the SSU's (Swedish Social Democratic Youth League) hard hitting Never Forget. To Vote campaign . "I was already deeply concerned about rising far right groups and outright racism in Europe when the guys at the SSU contacted me with an offer to join the campaign and be the link between the present and the Nazi past"

The impact of the video has been tremendous with the Hess name attracting the attention the SSU had hoped for. "Political power is at the heart of this burning issue" Rainer explains" the idea was to get people to vote in the European elections and understand that if they don't vote, they miss out on a historic opportunity to silence the far right".

"Do you see similarities between today's Europe and that of the 1930's? I ask

"Most definitely" comes the swift reply," the economic hardship in Germany, the frustrated disillusioned and unemployed raging its anger upon minority groups, far right gaining political power, its all there. The Nazi party of the 1930's started with very few seats but soon became the ruling party".

The SSU's powerful video shows the young Hess sifting through family photos as he ominously expresses his fears for Europe. He speaks of his inability to forget his painfully heavy to bear personal past as he dramatically reveals his identity; "my name is Rainer Hess" he says ominously, "my grandfather was Rudolf Hess, the Nazi commandant of the Auschwitz extermination camp".

The video has been watched by hundreds of thousands of people and I wonder if Hess is at all scared of far right hatred.

"No, because that would be falling into their hands" he replies, "this is exactly what they want. Yes, I get hateful emails but I also receive thousands of messages from people all over the world praising my stand, from the depth of Martin Luther King territory to Maori tribesmen; places where I never knew computers existed. This is a living reality, I hear from people fearing for their lives and emigrating, fleeing. The far right is organised and so should we be; a dialogue can only exist when the Social Democrats in Europe build a strong movement".

"How many seats should they win to alarm you?" I ask

"Even a single seat alarms me" says Rainer defiantly, "it amazes me that they have seats at all because I know that the hatred soon gets out of control, look at Breivik. We need to urgently update some ancient government laws so they apply to todays politics and address political correctness and freedom of speech;some government say they fight against racism but on the other hand allow disturbing groups into schools. Sweden for example is too tolerant, allowing such groups to meet with young children, if I did this in Germany I would be arrested".

I ask Rainer about his family's reaction to his worldwide exposure. "My wife and children support what he do says Rainer, "but the wider family is a different matter" with some still openly denying the holocaust.

I conclude by asking Rainer what his message to today's European leaders would be and he replies with a swift "wake up!", consider the past and learn the lessons of history. "I am on a mission to ensure a Nazi free Europe" he adds, "I am the grandchild of a mass murderer, I cannot change that fact but I can use my name for good".