Skip to comments.Why Europe Hates Israel
Posted on 11/29/2001 3:56:50 PM PST by dennisw
Commentary November 29, 2001
Why Europe Hates Israel
By Bret Stephens, an editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe.
BRUSSELS -- Yesterday, a Belgian court heard arguments from
lawyers representing 23 Palestinians, survivors of the 1982 Sabra and
Chatilla massacres near Beirut, that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon should be prosecuted in Belgium for crimes against humanity.
Though Mr. Sharon almost certainly will never sit in a Belgian jail,
the trial could hardly be freighted with more significance.
More than a half-century after the Holocaust, a Europe awakened to
the importance of human rights is looking to sanction the leader of
the world's only Jewish state for a crime that was actually committed
by a Christian Lebanese militiaman, later employed by the Syrian
regime of Hafez Assad. And yet blame for the massacres seems to be
apportioned to Mr. Sharon alone. Why?
The short answer is the Belgian legal system, whose well-meaning
laws lend themselves to this sort of opportunistic and sensational
indictment. A slightly longer answer is that many Europeans are
sincerely convinced that Mr. Sharon really is a war criminal, as a
BBC documentary attempted to show last summer.
But the real answer is that
European governments today are,
by and large, tacit enemies of the
state of Israel, much as they
might protest that they merely
take a more "evenhanded"
approach to the Arab-Israeli
Consider a few recent examples.
In April, France voted to censure
Israel at the U.N. Human Rights
Commission in Geneva -- while
abstaining from a vote of censure against China. During his
diplomatic foray to Tehran in September, British Foreign Secretary
Jack Straw offered that "one of the factors which helps breed
terrorism is the anger which many people in this region feel at events
over the years in Palestine." The European Union has so far refused
to follow America's lead by freezing the assets of terrorist groups such
as Hezbollah and Hamas, with the European Commission's external
relations spokesman, Gunnar Wiegand, arguing that "Hezbollah could
play a major role in regional stability."
That Europe today should be hostile to Israel may seem a bit of a
mystery, not least given the usual sympathy of aims between
democratic states. The explanation comes in several parts. First, as
historian Howard Sacher points out, Europe's left sees in Israel's
political evolution a betrayal of its utopian ideals. It's easy to forget
that in the years following the establishment of Israel, many
Europeans looked to it as a model socialist country. They admired its
largely state-run economy and especially its collectivist kibbutzim.
Hundreds of young European leftists, most of them non-Jews, flocked
to these farms in the 1960s, looking for the kind of workers' paradise
they could not find on the other side of the Berlin Wall.
This fondness, however, evaporated after the 1967 war, when Israel
went from being the Middle East's underdog to its Goliath, holding a
colonial-like mandate over the lands that came into its possession.
Partly under the sway of Soviet propaganda, partly in keeping with
the fashion of radical chic, European leftists abruptly transferred their
allegiances to the Palestinians and the PLO, which in the 1970s drew
the likes of current German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to their
meetings. Meanwhile, successive Israeli governments veered to the
right. "The era when Yitzhak Rabin or Golda Meir could address their
European counterparts as 'comrades' at gatherings of the Socialist
International had passed," says Mr. Sacher.
There was also a shift of attitudes on the European right. With the
exception of Britain, whose notoriously Arabist Foreign Office has
dominated its Mideast policy under both Conservative and Labour
governments, much of the Continental right had at one time looked
on admiringly at "plucky little Israel." Thus, beginning in 1952, the
conservative German government of Konrad Adenauer provided Israel
with critical financial support in the form of Holocaust reparations,
while Charles de Gaulle's France helped to build its nuclear reactor at
But it was also de Gaulle who, in 1967, slapped an arms embargo on
Israel for firing the first shot in the Six Day War. Thereafter, the
hostility increased, partly because France fancied itself a champion of
its former Arab colonies, partly out of simple anti-Americanism. But
the chief reason, of course, was Europe's dependence on Arab oil. As
French President Georges Pompidou put it to Henry Kissinger during
the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, "You only rely on the Arabs for about a
tenth of your consumption. We are entirely dependent on them."
Since then, Europe's reliance on Mideastern oil has abated, but the
habit of reflexively seeking to appease the Arabs at Israel's expense
has not. In 1974, French Foreign Minister Michel Jobert toured the
Middle East, seeking to earn price concessions on oil for France by
mouthing a hard anti-Israel line. In 1980, the European Community
formally recognized the PLO despite the fact that Yasser Arafat had
neither made peace with Israel nor dropped his overt sponsorship of
terrorism. Currently, the EU supplies the Palestinian Authority with
the bulk of its foreign aid, even as much of that money goes
indirectly to funding textbooks describing Jews as monkeys and
Given all this, many Jews have been led to conclude that what's at
work here is a thinly veiled form of anti-Semitism. But while there
might be some truth to this, it's easily exaggerated. Mr. Straw, of
German-Jewish descent, is clearly no anti-Semite, and the one bright
spot of Jacques Chirac's presidency has been his efforts to
acknowledge the sins of France's suppressed Vichy past.
Underlying European policy is an uneasy sense of guilt. In the
immediate postwar period, Europe's guilty conscience worked in
Israel's favor. But in the postcolonial spirit of the '60s, the balance of
guilt switched to the Arab side: It was they who were being oppressed;
and it was Europe that, with its previous support for Israel, had
helped inflict the oppression. So Europe pressures Israel to withdraw
from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, heedless of the dire security
consequences that such withdrawal would entail. That Israel has so far
refused to accede to this pressure stands as an infuriating rebuke to
modern Europe's fundamental conception of itself as the virtuous
defeated, free to pass judgment while absolved of the moral
responsibilities of wielding actual power.
Whatever the case, a foreign policy based on a combination of
left-wing disillusionment, French opportunism and all-around
cravenness cannot yield good results. With the U.S. State Department
increasingly leaning toward the European line on Israel, it's well that
the basis of that policy be properly understood.
If not for the US, Israel wouldn't have a real friend in the world. And I'm glad to be a US supporter of Israel, she has all the right (as in left) enemies.
ALL the Europeans despise Jews." That was her distinct memory, lol.
YMMV, realize the above is just a tiny anecdote. But for me, I really do NOT figure HOW the WSJ considers European JEW-HATRED to be anything extraordinary, as it's been livid and vivid for well over a thousand years. Them shetls ain't all they're made up to be in sappy sentimental nostalgia novels, much less the ghettos where most Jews in European cities lived until the 1800s...
Let's not make this more complicated than it is, folks!
Israel claims a right to kill Arafat's people because they don't exercise enough control over murderers among the Palestinians, then denies all involvement whateover in murders in Lebanon with a far larger toll.
Israel has as much right to be bombed as anybody in the Occupied Territories.
Those who hate jews are on the side of satan...
I'm a W.A.S.P., but after I saw those old newsreels of what those NAZI's did to those Jews, I understood that we should help them so that NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN!!
Here's the type of crazies Israel has to contend with each day.
|Masked Palestinian members of Hamas carry the body of 14-year-old Mohamed El Sawaf, one of three Palestinian killed by Israeli soldiers yesterday in Gaza, during his funeral in Gaza Strip, September 30, 2001. At least 602 Palestinians and 169 Israelis have died since the uprising against Israeli occupation began after peace negotiations deadlocked. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem||A Palestinian boy wearing a Hamas headband runs past a fire in the street after demonstrators burned effigies of Israeli bulldozers and checkpoints in the West Bank town of Nablus Saturday, Sept. 29, 2001 to mark the anniversary of the start of the second Palestinian uprising or Intefadeh which was sparked on Sept. 28, 2000. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)|
|A Palestinian boy carries a toy plastic gun during a rally of the militant Islamic group Hamas in the West Bank town of Bethlehem September 7, 2001. The rally was to support and hounor the relatives of those who have given their lives in the fight against Israel, Hamas announced. REUTERS/Reinhard Krause||A Palestinian boy holds a toy gun during a Hamas rally supporting suicide bomb attacks against Israel, at the Al Noserate refugee camp in Southern Gaza Strip, September 14, 2001. Israel and the Palestinians pressed ahead on Friday with efforts to arrange truce talks after a surge in violence overshadowed by the terror attacks in the United States. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)|
|An undated photograph released by Hamas September 10, 2001 shows suicide bomber Mohammed Shaker Ihbeishi, who blew himself up at a train station in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya the day before. For the first time an Israeli Arab is believed to have carried out a suicide bombing in the Jewish state. Sunday's attack killed three people at a railway station in northern Israel in the name of the militant Islamic group Hamas. REUTERS/Handout||An undated family handout picture shows suicide bomber Raed Barghouthi, from a village near the West Bank city of Ramallah. The Islamic group Hamas claimed responsibility September 6, 2001 for a suicide bombing in Jerusalem this week in which 15 people were wounded. REUTERS/Handout|
|A masked member of Izzedine al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, demonstrates in front of a poster of Osama Bin Laden during a march held by various Palestinian political factions marking the anniversary of the Palestinian uprising against Israel, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem Friday Sept. 28, 2001. Writing in Arabic on poster reads "The Islamic Jihad movement stands beside all honorable people of our nation". The Islamic Jihad is a radical Palestinian group. (AP Photo)|
By Yuval Steinitz - August 24, 2001
European commitment to Israel's existence seems solid and stable. You would hardly find a European
statesman or thinker who expresses explicit support for the annihilation of Israel.
Yet a careful analysis of two common European positions - the support for the Palestinians' "right of return"
and the objection to almost any Israeli defense operation - suggests that Israel's adversaries in the Middle East
might find some hidden partners to their aim of destroying the Jewish state.
Let's start by analyzing the prevalent European support for the Palestinians' "right of return." Should we be so
charitable as to assume that enlightened people in Europe indeed fail to understand that the "right of return"
formula means the extinction of Israel?
Of course, most advocates of this Palestinian demand would base their position on a purely moral ground. The
fact that the refugee problem is a result of the refusal of all Arab nations, including the Palestinians, to accept
the 1947 UN resolution on establishing both a Jewish and a Palestinian state, seems entirely irrelevant to their
humanistic approach. Even the ensuing Arab offensive, which was explicitly aimed at destroying the embryonic
Jewish state and exterminating its people, is not the issue.
The only thing that does appear to matter to some Europeans is that, according to their views, the rights of
Arab-Palestinians who left their homeland 53 years ago are fundamentally superior to the rights of Jews who
left their homeland almost 2,000 years ago.
Ignoring, for the sake of argument, the dubious validity of the above reasoning, since our aim is not to refute it
but rather to explore its cultural background, two important aspects emerge. First, that by advocating the above,
those Europeans, in fact, withdraw their historical support for the 1947 UN resolution on the establishment of
the State of Israel.
Second, this humanistic approach reiterates one of the key principles of classical European anti-Semitism: that
Jews are foreigners by nature, and hence, they are inferior vis-a-vis the natives, whether in Europe or in the
The claim that many Europeans see the Jews of Israel as fundamentally inferior in their national rights to their
Arab neighbors, exactly as they used to be inferior to their European neighbors in the past, is supported from
yet another perspective. Most European leaders vehemently criticize Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria,
which means that they negate the Jewish right of return to central territories of their historical homeland. The
main justification for their demand to freeze the settlements is that they might "jeopardize the forthcoming
Yet many of the same leaders do support the Palestinian right of return to territories inside Israel, thus
supporting the Palestinian demand that freezing Jewish settlement in the territories will be accompanied by the
process of sending hundreds of thousands of Arab-Palestinians to settle inside the Jewish state.
Can they innocently ignore the presence of a symmetrical threat jeopardizing the Jewish state?
As a former activist in the Peace Now movement I, together with my friends, shouted the slogan "two states for
two people!" in the name of justice and equality. In our innocence, we never imagined that, concomitant with the
process of establishing the Palestinian national homeland, we would be asked by some of our former European
allies to slaughter - in the name of the selfsame principles of justice and equality - the precious lamb of the
Jewish national homeland.
Another issue that might shed some light on the real intentions of some European leaders toward Israel is their
overwhelming objection to the right of Jews to protect themselves whenever required. Of course, it will be
difficult to find a public figure in Europe who explicitly asks the Jews to sacrifice themselves without fighting
back, as they did in the Holocaust. Yet, despite some general statements about Israel's natural right of defense -
like any normal state - there is hardly an Israeli military operation that escapes their condemnation, while all
the while refusing to take into account the brutal terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, or the bold violations of
all arms-control commitments by the Palestinian Authority.
If Israeli soldiers return fire on Palestinian policemen who are shooting at a neighborhood of Jerusalem, our
European friends express "sorrow" concerning "the violence on both sides." If Israel's F-16 airplanes target
proper military installations as a response to the massacre of civilians in a shopping mall near Netanya, the
European reaction is that it is "an improper excessive use of force, that might lead to unnecessary casualties."
When Israel shifts its policy to pinpointing and striking at prominent terrorists, in an effort to minimize the
danger to the entire Palestinian population, they consider it "execution without trial." When Israel imposes a
closure on the territories to prevent suicide bombers from entering the country, they feel "uncomfortable" with
In short, Israel enjoys the universal right of self-defense, but not in a concrete way. Here again, one can observe
the double standards of many Europeans, who would hesitate to dispute the right of other nations to fight their
enemies, and all the more so when their civilians are being purposely targeted. When it comes to Israel,
however, it is only restraint that derives some consent. It would thus seem that the old habit of seeing helpless
Jews persecuted by their adversaries might still play some role, albeit unconsciously, in some modern minds.
No doubt anti-Semitism is out of fashion nowadays in enlightened European circles. But if one can disguise a
good old tradition under the cover of humanistic support for the Arabs in the Middle East, why not give it a try?
(The writer, a Likud MK, is chairman of the Knesset Subcommittee for Defense Planning and
©2001 - Jerusalem Post
It is not well-known or discussed these days how much sympathy Hitler's early moves against the Jews received from all over Europe, including Britain. He lost that sympathy later, as his murderous, genocidal intentions became clearer. But the fact that he had, at first, at least a tacit and mild approval from many influential powers throughout Europe shows that there is a base of hatred, or at least distaste, that is long-standing, almost traditional in Europe's old power structure.
Whatever the case, a foreign policy based on a combination of left-wing disillusionment, French opportunism and all-around cravenness cannot yield good results. With the U.S. State Department increasingly leaning toward the European line on Israel, it's well that the basis of that policy be properly understood.
And here are the results of your sickos, funded by the American taxpayer
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