INTERVIEW: It’s All About the Immigration Crisis

By Reuvain Borchardt

People walk outside the European Parliament in Brussels on May 23, prior to a debate with the lead candidates for the European Parliament elections. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Journalist-activist  Matthew Tyrmand, a nationalist conservative and Euroskeptic, discusses the implications of last month’s European Parliament elections that featured big gains by the right and far-right.

Tyrmand, 43, a native of Brooklyn who attended Midwood High School and the University of Chicago, now spends much of his time in Europe, primarily Warsaw, where he works with Visegrad24, a platform with over a million followers that promotes a pro-Israel, pro-Ukraine agenda. He runs V24 Investigations’ undercover journalism unit, which launched with a series exposing antisemitism on college campuses across the U.S.

Tyrmand has also written for Polish newsmagazine Wprost and its sister conservative publication DoRzeczy. He is a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute and has worked with Open the Books, a Chicago-based nonprofit focused on forensic-auditing the public sector, among other U.S. organizations.

Previously, Tyrmand wrote for Breitbart and was a board member at Project Veritas, where he had a high-profile battle last year with founder James O’Keefe.

Tyrmand spoke by phone with Hamodia from the U.K., where he is currently following and covering the campaign of Nigel Farage, leader of the insurgent right-wing Reform Party.

First a little background on the European Union: It started after World War II as an economic agreement. But by the 1990s, it had been formed as a political body and a parliament. In 1999-2000 they formed the European monetary union, where most of the countries traded their currency for the euro, and it was under the guise of free movement of goods, services, capital, and people. 

There are multiple bodies in the European Union. There’s the European Council, European Commission, and the European Parliament, which is sort of the legislature that’s supposed to be representative of the countries, pro rata, based on population.  

The European Parliament has over 700 representatives, with elections every five years. Parties have lists of candidates, similar to parliamentary systems in France, Germany, and the U.K.

Seats in the European Parliament are highly coveted because they’re well-paid, full-time roles. They have huge budgets for staff, travel, and for promoting themselves. The Parliament meets three weeks a month in Brussels and one week in Strasbourg — that was a special deal carved out by the French. 

In many member countries, getting a seat in the European Parliament is basically a reward system for loyalty to the party heads. It tells you the bloat and excess of European Parliament and the European Union fleecing taxpayers around Europe because they move everybody’s files from Brussels to Strasbourg for a week a month.

Matthew Tyrmand

They move everyone’s files. Physical files, physical office, it’s a fleet of like a hundred trucks. 

It’s like the old joke about Obama and the stimulus in 2009 being a jobs program.

This is a patronage system.

Both the right and the far right certainly had gains. But it wasn’t across the board. There were some countries, like Poland and Hungary, where the right had had already huge gains, and gave back a little of that in these elections. 

But the places that were really interesting where there were major right-wing gains were France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, and the Netherlands. 

A lot of ink has been spilled about France, but this has been 10-plus years in the making. Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Rally party, made the runoff with Macron in the presidential election in 2022, and her party coalitioned with Reconquete, another nationalist party. That’s led by Eric Zemmour, a long-time and well-regarded French firebrand journalist who is Jewish.

I was present for Zemmour’s campaign in 2022 in France, which was initially surging. And then he did a stupid thing — I was at his campaign HQ in Paris when Russia invaded Ukraine and he equivocated the blame for the invasion on both sides and as I was sitting there, as he gave this broadcast speech, I knew he was done that cycle. His support immediately plummeted. But there were a lot of people on the right who did not want to associate with Le Pen, and Zemmour had given those people a party — including, by the way, Le Pen’s own niece, Marion Marechal, a former member of the French National Assembly and just now elected to the European Parliament — who was in Le Pen’s party, but then switched to Zemmour’s and now recently left Zemmour and reconciled with her aunt Marine as she supports National Rally in the snap election Macron just called last week.

They’re pretty similar on the major issues of why France is turning to the right, which is really immigration, and EU overreach into sovereign issues like borders, economics, and trade. 

On economic issues, Zemmour is more right-wing, while Le Pen is more socialistic.

This EP cycle National Rally and Reconquete merged their lists and campaigned together.

They’re both Francophiliac. They both strongly believe that France is its own cultural society that should not be diluted with mass third-world migration.

Because of the right’s big gains in the European Parliament elections, France is having snap elections in July for its own legislature.

Jordan Bardella is the ascendant leader of National Rally. He’s only 28; Le Pen is 55. If the right wins the elections in July, Bardella could be the next prime minister.

I know Bardella. He’s very talented in terms of media, but from my experience he is good on the stump but seems lacking policy knowledge and experience in running things.

National Rally party president Jordan Bardella speaking Sunday in Paris. (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard)

There’s one place where the right exists in Germany, and that’s the Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) party, known as AfD. 

It’s been around since 2013, and it rose up amid anti-immigration sentiment, because Germany — much like France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the U.K., and, truth be told, the rest of Europe sans Poland and Hungary — has been overrun by third-world migration from the Islamic world, from places like North Africa, Middle East, Syria, and all the way to Afghanistan. And, by the way, the same applies to Austria, where the right-wing Freedom Party did very well.

The center-right parties in Germany, like Angela Merkel’s, became like America’s RINOs. They became watered-down, establishment, and in favor of open borders. They lost a lot of their ability to call themselves righties; they were just European Union integrationists, and they were economically incentivized to do so because it so greatly benefited German industry. So AfD was the literal alternative, and that’s really where the right is in Germany.

AfD was a decent party for some years; it was sort of a big tent of righties. You had some further-right guys, but you also had some center-right guys. 

There are some very good people affiliated with AfD like Marc Jongen and Gunnar Beck, but they lost within the AfD, and the intellectual and philosophical best of AfD has been run out or marginalized. 

We’ve even seen resignations from the party due to some rightward extremist garbage. The further right and more corrupt people took over, such as their leader Tino Chrupalla, and Max Krah, whom I’ve exposed as being beyond “sympathetic” regarding Russia, China, Iran and Qatar. AfD actually had an electoral coalition with the French right, but Le Pen destroyed that coalition because of the numerous corruption scandals around Krah and then his recent comments diminishing the war crimes of the SS. After that he was expelled from the AfD — at least for now. Their foreign affairs leader in the Bundestag, Petr Bystron, is also under investigation for taking bribes from the Kremlin. And given his travels back and forth to Moscow or to meet with Russian fourth columns in Ukraine, such as Victor Medvedchuk, there is clearly more than just smoke here.

Despite all this, AfD did well because Germany is at its breaking point and Germans are fed up. But the party is not a great party. A lot of the good people have left or have been watered down as it has been hijacked by some of the extremists who are also corrupt and who are also very pro-Russia, because there have been well-established links to Russia and these persistent investigations into Kremlin funds flowing their way.

Overall, the right-wing parties across Europe are generally quite good, mostly classical liberal. The Swedish Dems are great. You’ve got the Flemish Nationalists and Vlaams Balaang in Belgium. They’re all fighting for the same thing, but the Germans are the ones to be wary of. And, of course, Germany being the largest country, the largest economy, has the most seats in the European Parliament. AfD now has around two dozen seats.

Historically, it’s obviously well-founded skepticism. 

But I know these people in the here and now, and they are Christian conservatives — but Judeo-Christian. They believe in the West. They believe in the pluralism that actually denotes most European countries. Their skepticism is solely centered on Islam, because after four decades of mass migration that’s accelerated in the last decade, they’ve seen that Islam is totally incompatible with Western democracies and Western civilization. Islam has been at war with non-Islamic civilization for more than a millennium.

Geert Wilders’ success in the Netherlands has proved that even the Dutch have woken up to this. Even lefty Sweden now has a conservative government, led in formation by the Sweden Democrats’ massive success in their national election two years ago. I don’t see much antisemitism in most of these parties, and I have been on the ground talking to their leaders and their party members over and over for many years.

There is some historical antisemitism in the Freedom Party of Austria but it’s not a hallmark of the party today, and this same applies to AfD in Germany — any anti Israel sentiment out of their leadership is more likely correlated to their personal economic incentives in currying favor with those who buy influence like Qatar and Iran. Just as they curry favor and carry water for Russia and China.

But most of the right-wing parties in Northern Europe such as the Netherlands are Judeo-Christian. Geert Wilders is one of the most philosemitic people in Europe. He considers Israel almost like a home.

Geert Wilders of the PVV (Party for Freedom) casts his ballot for the European election in The Hague, Netherlands, June 6. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

If you look at, for instance, the Dutch right, you have the PVV, Wilders’ party; and JA21. There is another right-wing party, FvD, a formerly ascendant party that had some really stupid youth wing doing neo-Nazi type garbage, and they’ve been cast aside by the Dutch right as a result of it. Their charismatic leader Thierry Baudet didn’t get the memo so he still tries, but his career is essentially over given his soft stance in policing the antisemitism that upticked inside his party. 

There’s very little patience among the mainstream right now to harbor antisemites in their midst, because they know what it is now. It’s much more clear in the last several generations how antisemitism manifests in Europe and what it portends and there is generally widespread negativity toward it. 

Yes, I think it’s more of the latter.

The Jewish population in many European countries is very, very small. Even the larger ones, like France and the U.K., are seeing Jews move out. But in many countries it’s very small. 

With the mass migration that you’ve seen and the Islamification of Germany and France and Belgium and Holland and Sweden et al, the people don’t want these Islamic practices. And I think they’re just not educated enough to understand that some of these practices in Islam are similar to those in Judaism. They just don’t want Islamification because they see that as a threat, both in the physical sense, as well as the watering down of their historical cultures. And when you educate them on the Jewish aspect of it, they generally walk it back best they can. 

But you also have to understand some of their perspectives: If Islam is literally about to cut their heads off, and there are maybe 3,000 Jews in a country of tens of millions of people, they just want to make sure that they’re not allowing Islamification and promoting practices that Islam embraces, so that Muslims just keep moving there. They really want to draw a line and say, when it comes to Islam, “No, take your customs out of here.” 

But there definitely need to be opportunities taken on educating them about Jewish history in Europe. 

Matteo Salvini, deputy prime minister of Italy and leader of the right-wing League party, speaking about early European election results at League headquarters in Milan, June 10. (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)

The place where I think there’s the most discontent, the one that would be next in line, would be Italy. 

There’s a lot of anger at the EU from the very beginning. The conversion in 1999-2000 of the lira to the euro hurt the Italian people more than any other in Europe. 

And there’s still anger that they got hurt the most by the immigration crisis, starting about a decade ago. They’re on the Mediterranean, they have a huge shoreline, and their island Lampedusa has been a wayfaring station from North Africa — Libya, Djibouti, Eritrea. They were all coming across the Mediterranean and stopping on this island that has like 6,000 residents. And the EU said, “We accept them all. Human rights, Human rights, human rights.” The Italians are pretty fed up. 

If you go around Italy, some of the cities like Milan and Rome are littered with human waste and undesirable people from the Third World, and crime has spiked. And this is everywhere Islam goes, whether it’s in Germany or Sweden or Belgium or the Netherlands. There are no-go zones in Sweden and Belgium and Holland that are really bad. You saw assassinations of two conservatives, Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and Theo van Gogh in 2004, in the streets of Amsterdam: they were calling out the risk of Islam, and so Islamists killed them. 

So this has all been brewing a long time. 

It started in the 2014 cycle that the right picked up some big ground in Europe. It continued in 2019, and now it’s continuing even more in 2024. The right is here to stay. I do not worry about their latent antisemitism — maybe a little bit from AFD in Germany as they ideologically don’t stand for much beyond lining their own pockets — but by and large, the Euro right-wing parties are looking just to bring back what’s good in Europe. 

And that does not mean expelling Jews. Jews are a big part of European history and culture, and most Europeans understand that.

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!