Skip to comments.Europe Knows Who's to Blame in the Middle East
Posted on 04/06/2002 6:48:04 PM PST by l33t
I wish it were possible that we could recall the prize," Hanna Kvanmo, a member of Sweden's Nobel Peace Prize committee, said recently about the 1994 award to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel. She mentioned no similar regret over Yasir Arafat, who shared the prize with Mr. Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, the late Israeli prime minister.
The remark is emblematic of European opinion on the escalating conflict in the Middle East. Sympathy for Mr. Arafat and the Palestinians, always strong, has grown stronger, while criticism of Ariel Sharon and Israel has grown more strident. Anti-Semitic incidents are rising, especially in France, and with demonstrations scheduled in many European cities, there is anxiety about potential violence.
"The general attitude has changed in Europe and it is a very dangerous moment," said Friedbert Pflüger, a member of Germany's Parliament. "It could open anti-Semitic doors, and we must do important work in the next days and weeks to forestall that."
Given Europe's bloody modern history, especially the Holocaust, in which virtually the whole continent was complicit, the contrast with the United States is striking, said Deidre Berger, director of the American Jewish Committee's office in Berlin.
Since Sept. 11, there has been considerable empathy among Americans for the threat faced by Israel. Moreover, Washington, now publicly committed to opposing all terrorism, is more understanding of Israel's
need to defend itself as it sees fit. The Europeans,
in contrast, generally don't consider the Middle East a security threat, except insofar as their own Muslim populations become violent in support of Palestinians or Afghans.
There are more Arabs than Jews in Europe, said John Kornblum, the American ambassador to Germany between 1997 and 2001, and there is also a growing tendency in Europe to distinguish its foreign policy from the Bush administration's, which is regarded by many here as simplistic and aggressive. All told, "There is a general tendency in Europe to take the Arab side," said Mr. Kornblum.
Europeans also find it difficult to stomach Mr. Sharon, a blunt opponent of the Oslo process a European diplomatic effort and widely considered responsible for the massacres of Palestinians 20 years ago in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
"Europeans, more than Americans, see Sharon as a war criminal from 20 years ago who is not interested in peace and is interested in getting rid of Arafat," said François Heisbourg, director of the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris.
The European response to the Middle East is not uniform, however.
The British were the colonial rulers of Palestine. And while they have strong ties to the Arab world, they also feel a sense of responsibility for their resistance to Jewish immigration before and during World War II. In addition, Britain, under Mr. Blair, who arrived at President Bush's Texas ranch Friday, is the United States' closest ally in the war on terrorism and the two have followed a similar line on the Middle East.
The French, on the other hand, have long resented America's geopolitical dominance. They also have vivid memories of their brutal struggle in Algeria, where terrorism was used by both sides, said Patrick Sabatier, the deputy executive editor of the French daily Libération.
"Europeans think that the definition of terrorism is often a flexible one, and contrary to what Bush said, there are some legitimate struggles carried out by means that do harm to innocent civilians," he said. "So there's less feeling in Europe that you can fight in a clean way."
Then, too, France, the nation of the Dreyfus affair and the Vichy government, has a long and unhappy history of anti-Semitism.
"There's great concern that the situation in the Mideast will boil over onto the streets," said Mr. Sabatier. "France has not had a very bright history vis-à-vis the Jews, who feel permanently at risk."
Thus far, French officials have largely said and done the right things, Mr. Sabatier said. "But there is a lot of unease," he said, "a sense that the water is beginning to boil."
In Germany, it is a matter of pride that the relationship with Israel is close and strong. Both Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and the foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, are considered sincerely, if not uncritically, pro-Israeli. Still, the perceived harshness of Mr. Sharon has led even normally reticent Germans to break the taboo and criticize Israel.
"Unfortunately, Sharon and Arafat deserve each other," said Michael Naumann, the editor in chief of the German weekly Die Zeit. Mr. Arafat, he said, is a terrorist who wants to regain all of Israel. "But it's an awkward moment, because no one in Germany, in the press or in government, thinks Sharon is the answer to the problem."
Europe's divergent national histories partly explain why the European Union's efforts to insert itself diplomatically into the Middle East have been so hapless.
BEFORE Mr. Bush's statement last week on the Middle East, in which he demanded that Israeli troops withdraw and that Arabs oppose terrorism, Romano Prodi, an Italian and head of the European Commission, announced that the American mediation had failed.
But Mr. Prodi's idea of new negotiations with sponsorship that included the European Union went nowhere, and European leaders were visibly relieved last week to see President Bush moving to assert American influence to stop the violence.
"Here again," Mr. Kornblum said, "is the picture of Europe trying to deal with the present on the basis of its complex history and the destruction of European self-confidence and power in the 20th century. They don't have the means, and they don't have a common rhetorical line."
What most of Europe does share, however, is an abiding suspicion of the Jewish state.
"There is very little empathy for the Israeli situation and the existential difficulties Israel finds itself in at the moment," Ms. Berger said.
One hardly knows where to start with that one.
Europeans as a whole always thought it was ok to kill Jews. Sad, it really is.
Sorry Race. In their heart of hearts, they still do.
The names have changed, the sentiments remain the same.
Be Seeing You,
Israel by itself has the military capacity to ensure that Treblinka is never again functioning, for instance...
Given the high level of Cowardess that can always be expected from European leaders we can rely on them to side with the mob and deliver up Israel.
It will not stop until there is either the European Islamic Union or a bloody purge I foresee the former.
If you want on or off me Israel/MidEast ping list please let me know. Via Freepmail is best way.............
What you are seeing from most of Europe is what Europeans have always been good at: lots of talk and bluster.
Likewise, Europeans still think that the answer to the world's problems with naked agression resides in appeasement. You'd think that Neville Chamberlain's poor performance against the NAZIs would have taught the proper lesson to the Euro's, but no, they seem to be rather slow on the uptake (or at least, can't seem to fully grasp the important lessons from history).
No matter. Europe is no longer a major world player. Their militaries and economies will gradually become increasingly burdened handling their own domestic problems, so projecting world power is hardly within their realm any longer.
Already this year the Europeans have threatened the U.S. with trade sanctions and made rumblings about sanctioning Israel, all while Europe teeters on the brink of recession with a more than 8% average unemployment figure and massive government debt. Simply put, Europe can't afford the economic ramifications of sanctions or trade wars, although I encourage them to engage in both.
Such folly, if fully engaged, would simply hasten the CCCP-style collapse of the over-extended, over-taxed, under-employed, under-productive, indebted, bureaucratically-smothered, corrupt, and de-militarized EU.
The sooner that happens, the better for all concerned.
In Germany, it is a matter of pride that the relationship with Israel is close and strong. Both Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and the foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, are considered sincerely, if not uncritically, pro-Israeli
These kind of people we got also here in the Netherlands, Marcel van Dam. He says he is pro-Israel, while at the same time he is saying that the Palestinians have the right to kill of Israeli citizens to free their country!
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