Monday, September 11, 2006

Why Europe Hates Israel ?

Most polls show that Europeans sympathize with the Palestinians much more than with Israel, especially in Britain, Spain and France.

The Economist (8/19/06) lists some of the reasons.

Europe has a growing and disgruntled Muslim population. The ruling classes and the media feel it is important to be “even-handed” and not to upset a particularly sensitive minority.

European anti-Semitism is certainly a contributing factor. The Muslim population has more than its fair share of anti-Semitism. And as we all know, Europe has had a long and disastrous flirtation with anti-Semitism. Against this idea is the somewhat shaky distinction being anti-Semitic and being anti-Israel. Even when it is conceded that in this context the two come to the same thing there is polling data showing that in Central Europe, there seems to be more anti-Semitism and more support for Israel. In fact the political right in Europe, which was linked to anti-Semitism in the past, is now more supportive of Israel. In England, the conservative party which had its share of genteel anti-Semitism for many years, is now more supportive than the Labor party. In Italy the Berlusconi’s right-wing party and the formerly neo-fascist National Alliance are more pro-Israel than the left. In Spain the Socialist prime minister wore an Arab headscarf during the Lebanese war and was criticized by the center right opposition.

The left at this point is very anti-American and their extreme hatred of Bush and his policies has spilled over to Israel. As Israel has grown closer and closer to America, the country has come to embody everything the Europeans are opposed to. Europeans think of Israel as standing for war, nationalism, and conflict, while the E.U. has graduated to the more noble ideas of love, peace, and federalism.

The left now controls most of the E.U. governments and much of the media. Initially, in the fifties, the left saw anti-Semitism and fascism as the products of the right so they were pro-Israel. After ’67, Israel came to be seen as a neo-colonial superpower and the Palestinians were viewed as the oppressed and displaced. Forty years of Israeli arguments to the contrary (hasbara) has had only negative effects.

The growing anti-Semitism around the world ,in my opinion must be addressed or it will grow even stronger. Europe is a home to many Jews(close to 2 million) and a place almost all Jews want to visit. It would be terrible if European anti-Semitic and anti- Israel feelings kept on growing to a point where the Jews would be forced to leave, or to a point where no Jew will feel safe walking the streets. If America is hated by the Europeans it is an inconvenience. If the Jews are hated the cost is considerably higher. Our world will shrink to Israel, America and a few English speaking countries. In calculating the cost vs. the benefits of the occupation of the West Bank and the Golan we should also not forget to include the effect of the occupation on anti-Semitism around the world. A world where there is peace between the Israelis, the Syrians and the Palestinians would not eliminate anti-Semitism. It would take the Arab-Israeli conflict off the front page and eliminate much of the purported grounds for anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli feelings. If the Palestinians and Israelis found an acceptable compromise, Israel would no longer be the poster boy in the clash between radical Islam and the West. I think it would help dampen the anti-Semitism of the European left.

The World Jewish Congress released a statement on 8/29. It said in part “It appears that a drastic deterioration has occurred in the security of dozens of small Jewish communities around the world. Additionally, heads of Jewish communities have recently alerted us to a new wave of anti-Semitic incidents around the world, making it apparent that many Jews feel insecure, isolated and abandoned” ‘’The situation in the Middle East is not just Israel's problem, but it reflects small Jewish communities all around the world," Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress Policy Council, said.

There are 240,000 Jews living on the West Bank. There are 8 million Jews living in the Diaspora; at least 2.5 million are vulnerable to anti- Semitism. Singer is making in an oblique and diplomatic way the exact same point I was presenting in the last paragraph. I am pleased to see the WJC is standing up for the interests of Diaspora Jewry.


At 1:00 PM, Anonymous shael siegel said...

It appears as though you've over intellectualized the issue at hand. Europe is anti-semetic regardless of Israel's policies. They have been historically and I have no reason to believe otherwise today. Furthermore, Israel is an independent country and it's policies, while I may disagree with them, ought not be subject to the state of the Jews in the Diaspora. If it's uncomfortable for Jews in France or the UK let them bail out-but why in heaven's name should Israel's foreign or domestic policy be compromised?

At 3:56 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

The State of Israel is sovereign only in the sense that it has the right to compel its citizens to obey its laws. It is not the be all and end all (telos) of the Jewish people. Israel and its citizens ought to care about the Diaspora for the exact same reason the Diaspora cares about the people of Israel…we are all one people and we ought to care for each other. I would think the State Israel exists for the sake of the Jews and not the other way around. As for anti-Semitism being an unchanging constant of European life, I believe anti-Semitism is not a metaphysical essence but a dynamic psychopathology that changes over time and is more or less severe under different circumstances. Are you saying the Jews of Europe, Russia, the Ukraine, Argentina and South Africa ought to 'bail out' (where?) so that Rabbi Levinger can stay put in Chevron and the hilltop adolescents can stay in their trailers? Perhaps you believe anti-Semitism has an upside because the Diaspora Jews will be forced to move to Israel. I respectfully disagree

At 3:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the demographics in europe are such that if present trends continue, fundamentalist muslims will be a majority in many countries within fifty years, considerably earlier in some countries. I don't think what Israel does will have much effect in this context.


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