European Politics: Double Standards Toward Israel
The relationship between Europe and Israel is complex, tense, and historically
loaded. A growing gap has developed between their political outlooks.
European political actions can continue to cause Israel so many
problems and harms that these in the longer run may increasingly dominate
all other aspects of the relationship.
One strong gauge of Europe's negative political attitude toward Israel
is its voting record in the United Nations. Another is the frequent condemnations
of Israel from Brussels. A third is the financing the EU has
provided for a variety of activities directed against Israel. France has
been in the forefront of many European anti-Israeli initiatives.
The mood created by the political leaders of European countries
toward Israeli government officials often permeates their societies. Their
discriminatory attitudes are enhanced by many media, NGOs, and some
churches. These factors together help build an anti-Israeli atmosphere
in large parts of European society, which is expressed in opinion polls.
This is often accompanied by anti-Semitic positions.
The relationship between Europe and Israel is complex, tense, and
historically loaded. An increasing gap has developed between their
political outlooks. At the same time, relations in areas such as trade,
science, culture, and sport have continued to expand over the decades
and have only been affected by the political divergences to some extent.
It is frequently claimed that when assessing European-Israeli relations,
one has to attempt to establish an average of the interactions
in the various fields. To consider this a balanced approach is mistaken.
European political actions can continue to cause Israel so many problems
and harms that these in the longer run may increasingly dominate
all other aspects of the relationship.
The European Union (EU) consists of twenty-five states with a
population of 460 million covering a territory of about 3.9 million
square kilometers. Israel is a small country - covering a territory far
less than one-hundredth of the EU's size - with a population of six
million, partly surrounded by mortal enemies. Europe and Israel are
not comparable entities. In view of the imbalance in power, populations,
and geographic size of the two areas, an analysis must focus
primarily on the much larger European side.
To What Extremes is Europe Willing to Go?
When looking for telling pointers in such a complex relationship, often
a useful shortcut is to identify extreme attitudes. In turbulent times
these become indicators of how Europe's attitude toward Israel may
evolve if the world political situation deteriorates.
Analyzing extreme European attitudes is meaningful for another
reason as well. It was against the Jews that Europe reached its absolute
low of barbarian behavior in the twentieth century. Although Europe's
current worldview is very remote from that of the 1930s, still there
are several disquieting similarities with the demonizing of the Jews -
mainly by Germans but also by others - before the Second World
War.1 The focus of the defamation has shifted from the individual Jew
to Israel, the Jewish state.
In the 1930s there were many Jews who closed their eyes, not
wanting to see the signs of the times. In a large universe of events
one can always find some positive pointers. Looking for those, while
the power of Germany's Hitler regime was increasing, one could
have cited the fact that in 1936 for the first time a Jew, the socialist
Leon Blum, became prime minister of France. In 1939, Lodewijk
Visser was appointed the first Jewish president of the Dutch Supreme
These events could have been interpreted as signals of a greater
acceptance of Jews even in the highest positions in various
European countries. These, however, were irrelevant in the broad
framework of the overall deterioration of the Jews' status in
Israeli historian Robert Wistrich says about today's situation:
According to all traditional indicators of full and equal acceptance,
Jews have never had it so good in Europe. There is no serious discrimination
in jobs or housing or in access to high positions in the cultural
or political domains. Jews, since World War II, have steadily risen
in social status, their economic position is very solid, and European
societies fully accept them in public life.
Yet he points out that: "Anti-Semitism, under the mask of anti-Zionism and in its own right, resurfaced with a vengeance in a supranational,
multicultural, pluralistic, antiracist Europe."2
The European Vote at the United Nations
One strong gauge of Europe's negative political attitude toward Israel
is its voting record in the United Nations. As it concerns democracies
expressing biased judgments about another democracy, it can be characterized
as abysmal. The argument that Israel's attitude toward the
Palestinians is responsible for the conflict is easily refuted. After the
1993 Oslo agreements, Europe's voting pattern at the UN did not
Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, mentions many
aspects of consistent European anti-Israeli bias in the various institutions
of the UN. In condemning Israel, Europe has frequently sided
with the world's most abject dictatorships.3
At the UN Conference on Anti-Semitism in New York in June
2004, Canadian law professor Anne Bayefsky asserted: "The United
Nations has become the leading global purveyor of anti-Semitism - intolerance
and inequality against the Jewish people and its state."4 Her
writings frequently contrast the EU's strong support for condemnations
of Israel with its rather negligent attitude toward anti-Semitism
at the UN.
Anti-Israeli Bias and Anti-Semitism
Bayefsky stresses the relationship between anti-Israeli bias and the
European desire to avoid condemning world anti-Semitism, which
mainly means its high Muslim and Arab component.
One example of this occurred at the 2003 General Assembly. The
issue arose of including the word "anti-Semitism" in a resolution on
religious intolerance in a preamble. Ireland, which had been the lead
state on the subject of religious intolerance for many years, was
determined to keep mention of anti-Semitism out.
So Israel decided that it would move an amendment to add it
from the floor. The Irish were unnerved. Irish Foreign Minister Brian
Cowen and Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom made a deal that
Israel would withdraw its threatened amendment to the resolution
on religious intolerance. In exchange Ireland would introduce for
the first time in UN history a resolution on anti-Semitism.
Israel was delighted by the prospect. The Irish delegation sat on
the third committee, waited for the resolution on religious intolerance
to pass through the committee without the mention of anti-Semitism.
Then they withdrew their promised resolution on anti-Semitism.
Their excuse was the lack of consensus. Among others, Ireland went
to the Iranians for their support. They afterwards claimed that they
were surprised at the opposition. To sum it up: there was no resolution
The Dilution of Resolutions
In November 2004, Bayefsky described developments after the June
UN Conference on Anti-Semitism. She wrote that it served the UN's
two-track approach: "Put the Jews on one side, Israel on the other,
and divide and conquer."6
Bayefsky observed that for several months in 2004 there were
discussions about a UN resolution dedicated to anti-Semitism.
The battle associated with presenting a new and substantive standalone
anti-Semitism resolution, however, scared off every democratic
UN member state. The next idea was to have the European Union
sponsor a resolution on anti-Semitism modeled on the Berlin Declaration,
which was adopted in April by the Organization for Security
and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). In that document there
was a small reference to Israel, though Europeans could not quite
bring themselves to say that terrorism aimed at ethnically cleansing
Israel of Jews was also a form of anti-Semitism.
Another failed expectation was that Germany would play a leadership
role in presenting a specific resolution condemning anti-Semitism.
In true gangland style, Germany was soon given to understand that
such a role would jeopardize its hoped-for permanent seat on the
Security Council, and any sense of historical responsibility vanished.
Nor was any other EU member prepared to confront Arab and
Muslim opposition. Ultimately the word anti-Semitism was allowed
into the resolution on religious intolerance. But the opposition was
public and considerable, and managed to dilute the mention to a
minor add-on in the midst of a range of other issues including
The International Court of Justice
The United Nations plays an important role in the establishment of
international law. Israel is confronted with many new issues where international
law falls dramatically short in meeting reality. In this area as
well, Israel has become an indicator of the failures of Western society.
Yehuda Blum, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, says that
some fields of international law have greatly assisted society at large.
He mentions as examples the law of diplomatic relations, the Law of
the Sea, and the Law of Treaties. Blum adds:
One field where international law has failed in recent years is where
it relates to the use of force. Its main weakness concerns the law of
war, belligerent occupation, and so forth. Since these are usually acute
problems, they highlight contemporary international law's weakness.
Another major failure of international law is to cope with the
recent international terrorism. International law is premised on the
existence of states, which are bound by its norms. In this particular
case, we are confronted with a different phenomenon: armed groups
perpetrating many crimes without any state taking responsibility for
There is often no possibility to hold any particular state accountable
for these actions. Al-Qaeda is like an octopus, which has spread
its tentacles all over the world. It was headquartered in Afghanistan
where it has been disposed of. International law has been unable to
develop the necessary adjustments to this novel situation.
Blum adds that for many decades the Europeans have been unwilling
to confront the new reality of terrorism. "It started with hijacking
of planes and the kidnapping of their passengers in 1969. At that time
because it was an El Al airliner, there was little concern among the
Europeans about the outcome." He adds that Israel has been at odds
with Europe on matters concerning international law for several decades.
"I think that the major sticking point in our relationship with
the Europeans is their lack of ability or willingness to understand the
perils of the current situation."8
Two Types of International Law
International lawyer Meir Rosenne, former Israeli ambassador to the
United States and France, expresses an even stronger opinion: "There
are two types of international law. One is applied to Israel, the other
to all other states. This comes to the fore when one looks at the way
Israel is treated in international institutions."
One finds this attitude also in many aspects of customary practice.
In 2004 at the Athens Olympics the International Olympic Committee
did not commemorate the murder of the eleven Israeli athletes
at the 1972 Munich Olympics. A private ceremony of the Israeli
ambassador to Greece in Athens was all there was. The president
of the Olympic Committee attended, but not the Olympic Committee
as such. And this was their attitude despite what happened on September
Rosenne mentions as a typical example of international law's
double standards the 2004 International Court of Justice advisory
opinion on the Israeli security fence. "In its judgment the Hague court
decided that the inherent right of self-defense is enforced only if one
is confronted by a state. If this were true, that would mean that whatever
the United States undertakes against Al-Qaeda is illegal. This cannot
be considered self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter because
Al-Qaeda is not a state."9
A Multiplication Factor
Israel's enemies use UN statements as a tool in their total war on the
country. The attacks come from many directions also outside the
Arab and Muslim world. A number of European left-wing academics
advocate that the academic world should break its ties with Israel.
Mainly left-wing politicians try to abolish Israel's trade preferences in
the EU. Viewed in the broader context of the role Europe plays in the
verbal demonization of Israel in the UN, this takes on a far greater
significance than this body's limited importance in world politics.
The political damage Europe's double standards cause Israel manifests
itself in other ways. The statements made by EU foreign ministers
are often extremely one-sided, probably far more so than their declarations
concerning any other democracy.
This became clear again under the Dutch EU presidency in the
second semester of 2004. Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot condemned
Israel for several of its military measures against the Palestinians.
At the same time, he remained silent about far more severe
actions taken against civilians by Western troops in Iraq, despite the
Netherlands' co-responsibility for these acts as part of the Western
Israel's bilateral relations with European countries are much more
positive than the EU's attitude. The deficiencies of the latter have been
confirmed in many ways. One example: in a private meeting with
several Dutch parliamentarians of the Christian CDA Party, this author
criticized several of Foreign Minister Bot's discriminatory statements
against Israel. The legislators' first counterargument was that
one could not expect him to act differently as this happened during
the Dutch presidency at the EU, on whose behalf Bot spoke.
The EU's frequent excessive criticism of Israel comes at a time
when European anti-Semitism has reached a post-Holocaust high.
Two additional questions emerge here. First, what elements of official
EU policy toward Israel use the classic methodology of anti-Semitism
against the Jewish state? Second, to what extent does the anti-Israeli
bias contribute to the increasing anti-Semitism in Europe? Answering
these questions in more detail will require in-depth study.
Funding the Murderers of Israelis?
Besides the European voting record at the UN and the double standards
of the condemnations of Israel from Brussels, a third issue
appears on Israel's charge sheet. The EU has provided funding for a
variety of anti-Israeli activities.
Many questions must be asked. Some matters are not clear because
they have not been sufficiently investigated, others because they are still
emerging. The Israeli government claims that the Palestinian Authority
(PA) has used donations received from the EU for terrorism, including
the murder of Israeli civilians. The EU has for a long time stalled
investigations of these claims. When the European Fraud Investigation
Agency (OLAF) examined them, no conclusive evidence was found.10
Some observers are convinced that the EU has funded the Palestinian
murderers of Israel's citizens. Ilka Schröder, who left the German
Green Party and became an independent member of the European
Parliament until the 2004 elections, wrote:
It is a well-known fact that parts of the EU funding to the Palestinian
Authority - 945 million Eurodollars from 2000 to 2003 - were channeled
to an undisclosed budget and that the PA has financed a
terrorist war against Israel....Instead of preventing the use of EU
money to kill citizens of Israel, the majority of the political establishment
dreams of an international peace enforcement against Israel,
led or joined by the EU in the United Nations.11
Political scientist Yohanan Manor, who has studied Middle Eastern
textbooks, maintains that:
The European Union has a heavy responsibility in the transformation
of the Palestinian education system into a war machine against the
Oslo process. This despite the fact that it had excellent means to
assure that Palestinian education should serve the process of peace
and contribute to the permanence of the historic compromise that
Manor concludes that the EU, despite the financial support it and
its member countries give to the PA, has neglected its supervisory role
of the textbooks.12
Financing Other Anti-Israeli Bodies
A fourth major item of Israel's indictment of Europe concerns the
EU's financing of other anti-Israeli bodies. It is unlikely that the EU
funds extremist groups opposed to an elected government and majority
opinion in any other democratic country.
One example is the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network
(EMHRN). Political scientist Gerald Steinberg points out
that this organization receives 80 percent of its funding from the
EU. He notes that EMHRN has been at the forefront of various
campaigns for suspending trade agreements with Israel including
the Association Agreement.13 Steinberg also observes that the EU
was a major funder of the 2001 Durban Conference, which was
exploited by the NGO network for demonizing Israel and anti-Semitism.14
Edwin Black, who has published extensively on the Ford Foundation's
funding of anti-Israeli hate groups, notes that it gave more than
$1 million to the Palestinian Committee for the Protection of Human
Rights and the Environment (LAW), which was a key organizer of
the anti-Semitic hate campaign in Durban. He mentions that the Dutch
charity Cordaid and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg are other major
funders of LAW.15
Several European countries stand out in their anti-Israeli policies. In
Greece, both extreme and anti-Semitic remarks by top politicians
mainly but not exclusively from the PASOK Socialists and other parties
more to the left, as well as extreme rightists, are run-of-the-mill. The
same attitudes can be found among Greek Orthodox clergy, media,
and cultural heroes.16
Sweden is another highly problematic country for Israel, its Socialist
government frequently moralizing against it. Its late Foreign Minister
Anna Lindh often exceeded the strong statements of other
European foreign ministers in her condemnations.
Several countries have on occasion promoted European verbal
attacks on Israel. France, however, has undoubtedly been the leader
of the European anti-Israeli campaign over the past decades. Several
Israeli diplomats consider that during the last thirty-five years it has
caused major political damage to Israel.
De Gaulle: Anti-Semitism in the Mainstream
For about two decades after the Second World War, France helped
Israel in many ways. Says Rosenne: "Before the state was established
many Jews who wanted to emigrate illegally to Palestine came to
France and departed from there. Later when there was an American
weapons embargo the Israeli air force was equipped with French Mirage
In the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel's existence was threatened,
France's President Charles de Gaulle took a pro-Arab direction and
instituted a weapons embargo on the Middle East. Verbal attacks
against Israel were sometimes accompanied by anti-Semitic statements.
In his press conference on 27 November of that year de Gaulle included
a much-publicized remark, calling the Jews "an elitist and domineering
This is often considered the post-Holocaust reintroduction of anti-Semitism at the highest levels of mainstream European democratic
society. There is a substantial difference between hidden and public
anti-Semitism, as George Orwell so tellingly wrote decades ago:
There is widespread awareness of the prevalence of anti-Semitic feeling,
and unwillingness to admit sharing it. Among educated people,
antisemitism is held to be an unforgivable sin and in a quite different
category from other kinds of racial prejudice. People will go to
remarkable lengths to demonstrate that they are not anti-Semitic.
Thus, in 1943 an intercession service on behalf of the Polish
Jew was held in a synagogue in St. John's Wood. The local authorities
declared themselves anxious to participate in it, and the service was
attended by the mayor of the borough in his robes and chain, by
representatives of all the churches, and by detachments of the R.A.F.,
Home Guards, nurses, Boy Scouts and what-not. On the surface it
was a touching demonstration of solidarity with the suffering Jews.
But it was essentially a conscious effort to behave decently by people
whose subjective feelings must in many cases have been very different.
That quarter of London is partly Jewish, antisemitism is rife there,
and, as I know well, some of the men sitting round me in the synagogue
were tinged by it. Indeed, the commander of my own platoon
of Home Guards, who had been especially keen beforehand that we
should "make a good show" at the intercession service, was an ex-member
of Mosley's Blackshirts. While this division of feeling exists,
tolerance of mass violence against Jews, or, what is more important,
antisemitic legislation, are not possible in England. It is not at present
possible, indeed, that antisemitism should become respectable. But
this is less of an advantage than it might appear.18
With his breaking of a postwar taboo, de Gaulle paved the way
for other European statesmen who would go much further in later
years. Greek Socialist Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou,19 and
Swedish Socialist Olaf Palme on his way to the prime ministership,
compared Israelis to Nazis in 1982.20
De Gaulle's successor as French president was Georges Pompidou.
His anti-Israeli behavior led to an unprecedented demonstration
against him by American Jews when he visited Chicago in 1970.
Embargo and Supplies
Former Israeli ambassador to Mauritania Freddy Eytan has been
stationed in Paris for many years. He mentions that despite the embargo,
France supplied Mirage planes Israel had already bought to
Libya; they were subsequently transferred to Egypt and used in the
1973 Yom Kippur War. Rosenne notes that France continued to supply
certain spare parts indirectly to Israel via other countries. This undoubtedly
helped, but as it was unofficial it did not affect the political
damage to Israel.21
Eytan points out that French Foreign Minister Jean Sauvagnargues
was the first Western official to meet Yasser Arafat, doing so in 1974
in Beirut. A year later the PLO opened its first European diplomatic
office in Paris, while its charter was calling for the elimination of
France also supplied the Osirak nuclear reactor to Iraq. Eventually,
Israel had to take exceptional military action to destroy it. This led
to Iraqi Scuds being launched against Israel in the first Gulf War.
Had France not provided the reactor, Iraq might not later have fired
its missiles against Israeli civilians.
Blum says: "The disagreements between the Europeans and the
Americans with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict were largely motivated
by the foreign policy of France. It dragged the other Europeans
in this direction."
France: EU Anti-Israeli Leader at the UN
Blum was Israeli ambassador to the UN at the time of the Venice
Declaration in 1980, which recognized the PLO while its charter was
aiming at the destruction of Israel. He says: "The French were instrumental
outside the UN at the European level with regard to this
evolving common European position on the Middle East conflict. The
Germans as well as the British under Margaret Thatcher tried in vain
to put the brakes on it at the time."
At the UN the French positions during my ambassadorship were
the worst among Europeans. To give one example, in 1982, after the
start of the Lebanon campaign, there was an American initiative to
bring about a cessation of hostilities. A counterproposal that never
materialized was a joint venture of the Egyptians and the French.
The French at the UN were the leaders of every anti-Israeli initiative
originating in Europe throughout. Theirs was a totally unbalanced
position. We counted them in the Arab camp.23
Gold details the French role as an anti-Israeli leader among Europe
at the UN. He notes that often in meetings of EU diplomats, the
French ambassador tried to move the EU position in an anti-Israeli
direction. At the UN, France has been particularly active in building
Europe's anti-Israeli voting record. The UN's 2004 voting on the
security fence issue is one example.24
French President Jacques Chirac has often been praised for admitting
in 1995 that the French postwar republic was the successor of
the Vichy government. That this was considered a breakthrough was
only possible because his predecessors stubbornly denied the truth for
over fifty years.
Leaders in Anti-Semitic Incidents
Besides Israeli interests, French foreign policy positions also frequently
damage Jewish ones. In October 2003, Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamed
Mahathir made strongly anti-Semitic statements at the summit
of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. He was applauded by
the leaders of all Muslim countries.
Thereupon Chirac, together with Greek Socialist Prime Minister
Costas Simitis, blocked the proposal to include a condemnation of
these remarks in the EU summit's official final statement and instead
had it relegated to a speech by the EU's head at the time.25
It would not be possible to gauge the individual contribution of
each of the factors that have made France the democracy with the
most anti-Semitic incidents in the world in the new century. In a 2004
report prepared for the French interior minister, human rights expert
Jean-Christophe Ruffin links anti-Semitism explicitly to the anti-Israeli
mood prevailing in France: "It is not conceivable today to fight actively
in France against anti-Semitism in its new mutations without trying
everything to balance anew the way public opinion views the situation
in the Middle East."26
Anti-Jewish violence in France went unchecked until after the
presidential elections in spring 2002. France then received a culture
shock as extreme right-wing candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen became
Chirac's challenger, defeating Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
However, it took Chirac until November 2003, when a Jewish
school in Gagny was firebombed, to come down strongly against anti-Semitism. A few months earlier he had told a delegation of the Simon
Wiesenthal Center that there was no anti-Semitism in France. On the
way to their next meeting, several delegates who had their heads
covered were insulted with anti-Semitic remarks on the streets.27
The Jews' Indictment of France
Over the past twenty years, CRIF, the umbrella organization of French
Jewry, has organized an annual dinner in which the prime minister
participates. Seldom has an official representative of a national Jewish
community anywhere made such an indictment against the authorities
of his country in a similar situation as the 2005 speech by CRIF's
President Roger Cukierman, delivered in the presence of Prime Minister
Cukierman stressed positive points about France where possible.
If one puts his criticisms together, however, they form a lengthy charge
sheet against his country. Cukierman mentioned the one thousand
reported acts or threats of anti-Semitic violence in 2004 as against
sixty-nine incidents five years earlier. He referred to the hostility in
many French classrooms where educators faced difficulties in teaching
about the Shoah, as well as to the desecration of Jewish and other
Cukierman then cited the limited percentage of anti-Semitic crimes
that were solved. He noted that Jewish victims of violent aggressions
were not supported by the justice system, which also acquitted several
among those accused of making strong anti-Semitic statements.
Cukierman also mentioned the incompatibility of France's foreign
policy with its internal struggle against anti-Semitism. He quoted the
Ruffin report and criticized the government for officially authorizing
the Lebanese Al-Manar television channel to broadcast in France. He
added: "In so doing, France was officially and legally admitting anti-Semitic propaganda in our country; something unheard of in the
past 60 years." After many public protests, a number of weeks of
broadcasting later, this decision was reversed.
Cukierman also referred to the "grandiose ceremony" France had
organized for Arafat, stressing that it was "even more grandiose" than
the one in Egypt. "We were treated to laudatory speeches, ecstatic
tributes, the French national anthem, and the Republican Guard, all
in honor of Arafat's mortal remains." Cukierman added that since
then hopes for peace had revived, and concluded: "Who can deny
today that Arafat was an obstacle to peace?"
Cukierman also wondered why the French authorities had not
officially denied the rumors that Arafat had been poisoned, and tolerated
as well the false civil status registry declaration that he was born
in Jerusalem instead of his true birthplace, Cairo.29
France's official policy today can best be described as that of a fireman-arsonist.
It tries to extinguish domestic anti-Semitic flames, at the
same time fueling hatred with official attacks on Israel.
In October 2004 Nicole Guedj, France's Jewish deputy minister
for victims, stated at the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism in
Jerusalem that France intends to lead the European battle against
anti-Semitism. When challenged by this author about France's leading
role in simultaneously fostering it, she did not deny the facts but
replied that Jews should not look backward but to the future.
A few weeks later, Chirac invited the terminally ill Yasser Arafat
to die in Paris. He and France went out of their way to pay homage
to Arafat before and after his death. Thus France honored the person
who had given international terrorism against civilians probably its
largest and most innovative push in the past decades. It recalled
Chirac's insulting 1996 visit to Israel, after which he kowtowed to
When Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom visited President
Chirac in February 2004, he asked him to support the inclusion of
Hizbullah on the European Union's list of terrorist organizations.
An editorial in the Jerusalem Post reacted: "France's argument for
its position, that Hizbullah is a political faction in Lebanon, is ludicrous
to the point of insult. This 'political faction' has thousands of missiles
pointed at Israel, is committed to Israel's destruction and is actively
supporting Palestinian terrorism and undermining the PA."30
Belgium as an Example
The situation in Europe concerning attitudes toward Israel differs
somewhat from country to country. When discussing Belgium, political
scientist Joel Kotek asserts that the country's morality versus other
states differs according to the importance of its exports to them. It
therefore remains silent about the atrocities committed by China.
Kotek ascribes Belgium's hostility toward Israel to four factors.
The first is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is elaborated to the
extreme by the media. The second derives from the Jew-hating traditions
of both Christianity and the extreme Left, which in the Belgian
case is exacerbated by a colonial past, for which it still avoids assuming
responsibility. Kotek also notes that since the nineteenth century the
Jew has been the symbol of capitalism.
A third element of hostility is the development of an intifada-type
atmosphere in the suburbs resulting from a new Arab-Muslim
Judeophobia. This attributes to the Jew the responsibility for the evils
of the Arab world.
A fourth factor is the crisis of modernity in a new demographic
context. On the one hand, Belgian Jewry is in decline; on the other,
dynamic communities of Muslim origin represent 17 percent of the
population of the country's capital, Brussels. Kotek maintains that all
these factors lead to the marginalization of the Jews and turn Israel
into the "Jew of the nations."31
The Jew as a Symbol
Jews have fulfilled symbolic functions in European society for well
over a millennium. In the fifth century, St. Augustine defined the
Jews as a witness people: their continuous existence would prove that
Christianity was superior and represented the truth.
Later, the Jew in Christian Europe became a symbol of the Devil.
What could one expect from the descendants of people who had
murdered God's son? The Jew represented all evil in society, Satan
and his messenger. With the arrival of capitalism and Communism,
the Jew became for the adherents of each system the personification
of the opposite one.
These symbols survive in contemporary European society. After
the Holocaust, for a certain period their use became politically
incorrect. Many Europeans started to become aware that if there was
absolute evil in the world, it was represented by parts of Europe rather
than the Jews. For many others, however, this was too painful to admit.
It created the psychological necessity to attach evil again to the Jews,
this time to Israel, the Jewish state.
The Israeli psychologist Nathan Durst remarks:
If the guilty person is bad, the Jewish victim becomes good. The
moment it can be shown the latter is bad too, the "other" - that is,
the European - is relieved of his guilt feelings. To claim that Israelis
behave like Nazis reduces the sin of the grandparents. Then the
children of the victims can no longer be the accusers. This equalizes
In particular, Germany in recent years has witnessed a trend of
seeking to cleanse its past by accusing others. It speaks with multiple
voices. One strong message is that of moral equivalence between Germany's
Second World War crimes and the behavior of others then and
now. Those making these claims are no longer marginal individuals.
The most effective approach to sanitize Germany's immense crimes is
to accuse Israel of acting similarly.
The initial Holocaust deniers were usually extreme right-wingers
with nostalgia for Hitler's days. Their attempt to purge Germany's
past by radically falsifying history did not go far. Nowadays, members
of the country's elite have found a formula to clean up their country's
history. The message is that while the Germans were indeed Nazis,
how important is that if so many others conducted themselves comparably
in the past or are behaving so now? If so many are guilty, why
single out the Germans?33
Classic anti-Semitism has also become fashionable again in
Europe, as demonstrated by many studies. If one were to apply a
mental exercise, one could say that if all hardcore anti-Semites in
Europe were to die soon, the number of dead would by far exceed
that of the Europeans killed in the Second World War. That anti-Semitism is an integral part of European culture is not difficult to
prove. This is radically different, however, from falsely stating that
most Europeans are anti-Semites.34
European Socialists against Israel
Among major parties the Socialists are probably the best organized
Europe-wide. Their grouping PSE has 201 members among the 732
European parliamentarians. An analysis of the extreme anti-Israeli
statements made by various key European Socialists provides yet another
perspective on Europe's double political standards.
Analyzing matters that concern Israel and the Jews gives indicators
of how soft some European Socialist parties are on terrorism.
Once one has identified these indicators, one can also track them
in future. One is: how negatively will these parties campaign against
Israel so as to win domestic Muslim votes? Another concerns the
additional actions they may undertake out of anti-Israeli bias.
Thereafter, one can investigate how much anti-Semitism these will
Some of these questions were already raised after an article by
British Labour minister of energy, Mike O'Brien, in the Muslim Weekly
at the beginning of 2005.35 It was published at a time when UK anti-Semitic violence - much of it by Muslims - reached almost French
proportions. O'Brien solicited Muslim votes for an as-yet unannounced
parliamentary election. He asked what Michael Howard, the
Conservative Party's leader, would do for them. Although not explicitly
saying that the latter was a Jew, the suggestion was clear. Before turning
to domestic issues, O'Brien wrote: "Will his foreign policy aim to help
O'Brien also mentioned that he had visited Yasser Arafat to convey
that the UK, unlike the Americans, had not abandoned him. Additionally,
O'Brien stressed that British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was the
first Western politician to condemn Israel's assassination of Hamas
Soft on Terrorism
There are many other aspects of extreme double standards by Socialists
against Israel and the Jews not necessarily connected to electoral
considerations. In a study on Greek anti-Semitism, Moses Altsech
wrote in 1995 that at the end of 1988 under the rule of the Pasok
following a judicial investigation, the Athens Court of Appeals and
the Greek Supreme Court decided that Abdel Osama Al-Zomar,
an alleged Palestinian terrorist apprehended in Greece, should be
extradited to Italy to face charges of bombing the synagogue of
Rome in October 1982, injuring thirty-four people and killing a three-year-
old child. Greek Justice Minister V. Rotis used his authority to
overrule the court decisions, stating that Osama's acts were part
of the "Palestinian struggle for liberation of their homeland, and,
therefore, cannot be considered acts of terrorism."36
Altsech comments: "Rotis compared these deeds to the acts of
terrorism as part of anti-Nazi resistance during World War II. Osama
could choose a country to fly to and went to Libya. The Washington
Post wrote that Greece had rolled out a red carpet for terrorists."37
In October 2001, Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi was
assassinated by Palestinian terrorists. Danish Foreign Minister Mogens
Lykketoft, who later would become the leader of the Danish Socialists,
said on television that there was no difference between the assassination
and Israel's targeted killing of terrorists.38
In 2003, senior Labour MP Tam Dalyell claimed that a Jewish
cabal of Zionists in the United States and Great Britain was driving
their governments into war against Syria.39 In February 2005 Ken
Livingstone, mayor of London, called a Jewish Evening Standard
reporter a "concentration camp guard."40 This was too much for
part of the British Labour Party. Prime Minister Tony Blair asked
Livingstone on television to apologize; he refused. The discussion
in the British media was not limited to the anti-Semitic nature of
the remark. It also focused on how the Socialist mayor's statement
came at an inconvenient time as the International Olympic Committee
was aiming to evaluate London as a possible candidate for the
Franco Cavalli, then parliamentary leader of the Swiss Social
Democrats, said at a meeting in 2002 where Israeli flags were burned
that Israel "very purposefully massacres an entire people" and undertakes
"the systematic extermination of the Palestinians."42
Anna Lindh, destined to become Sweden's prime minister before
being murdered, was known for her anti-Israeli bias. Her successor
as foreign minister, Laila Freivalds, visited Yad Vashem in 2004 to
honor murdered Jews. Thereafter she heavily criticized Israel and
remained silent on the extensive anti-Semitism in Sweden, much of
which is perpetrated by Muslims. Freivalds's silence was exposed by
four former chairmen of the Swedish Jewish community, who wrote
of how rampant racism and anti-Semitism is in the country.43
Two prominent Socialist Holocaust distorters already in the early
1980s demonized Israel with methods similar to those of classic
anti-Semitism. As mentioned, Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme
and Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou were the first
leading European politicians to compare Israel's policies to those of
In March 2002, Greek Socialist parliamentary speaker Apostolos
Kaklamanis referred to the Israeli "genocide" of the Palestinians,
upon which government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that he
expressed the sentiments of the parliament and the Greek people. The
daily Ethnos, close to Pasok, published what is probably the most
anti-Semitic cartoon to appear in the new century in a mainstream
European paper, stating that the Jews were in Auschwitz and Dachau
not to suffer but to learn.44
Soft on Terrorism: Continued
Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center ironically exposed
Socialist-terrorist collaboration and European hypocrisy at the 2004
OCSE (Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe) meeting
in Berlin. He mentioned an imaginary congress on creative solutions
for immigration into Europe in which the French extreme-Right politician
Le Pen and the Russian anti-Semitic leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky
would participate. He claimed it would be financed by the Konrad
Adenauer Foundation, associated with the German Christian Democrat
Party. His remarks caused an uproar in the audience.
Samuels apologized for his "mistake." He said that instead of the
right-wing conference he had invented, he had intended to refer to a
real three-day congress held in Beirut funded by the German Socialist
Friedrich Ebert Foundation with speakers from the terrorist organizations
Hizbullah and Hamas.
The Wiesenthal Center wrote on its website that conference participants
at the meeting funded by the "flagship of Germany's ruling
Social Democratic party" included
Shaykh Naeem Qasim from Hizbullah; Azzam Tamimi, from the
Institute of Islamic Thought in London, who presents himself in the
Arab press as a counselor to Hamas; Tariq Ramadan, from the
University of Fribourg, a Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, notorious
for his public incitement to anti-Semitism in France; Ibrahim al-
Masri, vice president of Lebanon's al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya, a group
linked by terrorism experts to al-Qaeda; and Munir Shafiq, a leading
Hamas ideologist and former activist in Islamic Jihad.45
Honoring the World's Leading Terrorist
While the aforementioned cases deal with what might be considered
extreme behavior, there are many lesser instances of profoundly distorted
attitudes, as a few examples demonstrate.
When British Foreign Secretary Straw visited the Middle East, he
laid a garland of red and gold chrysanthemums on Arafat's grave in
Ramallah and signed the book of condolences. A senior Israeli diplomat
was quoted anonymously as saying, "When you lay a wreath at
someone's grave, you are identifying with what the person believed
in."46 At the same time, the European leaders constantly proclaim the
need for a more effective fight against terrorism.
In February 2005, after Swiss Socialist Foreign Minister Micheline
Calmy-Rey visited Arafat's grave, the Swiss Federation of Jewish communities
criticized her. They said she had given "equal treatment to
a wreath laying ceremony at the grave of the deceased Palestinian
leader, Yasser Arafat, and another ceremony at the Holocaust memorial
museum in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem."471
In an interview, Thomas Lissy said on behalf of the Jewish community
that the Federation had spoken out because it considered
that the anti-Israeli bias in Switzerland had become a danger to the
community. "The portrayal that Israel is always wrong and the
Palestinians are always right has created a tense atmosphere."48
Common among the extreme Left and extreme Right, these attitudes
are by no means exclusively Socialist ones as far as mainstream
parties are concerned. One only has to recall how Chirac, who belongs
to the right-of-center UMP, honored Arafat. Yet it seems that uncritical
attitudes toward terrorists are particularly strong among Socialists.
Also on this matter, attitudes toward Jews and Israel are a prime
indicator of broader societal phenomena. In this case, what is reflected
is the further degradation of European socialism, which has lost its
humanist character without giving up its pretensions in that regard.
Perhaps Deeper Roots
The insults and manipulations of the aforementioned politicians may
come from deeper roots in the Socialist mindset. The French author
and journalist Jean-François Revel found the records of the French
Human Rights League, which at the end of 1917 and beginning of 1918
staged hearings about the Russian Revolution "with many qualified
French or Russian eyewitnesses, most of whom were Socialists or close
to the Socialists."49
Revel notes that the commission that held the hearings consisted
of some of the most prominent Frenchmen in the fields of literature,
science, philosophy, history, economics, sociology, and politics. When
he read the records, Revel saw "that as early as 1918 the highest political
and intellectual leaders of socialism already knew absolutely all they
needed to know about Soviet despotism, since the system in its virtual
entirety had been established during the first year of its existence."
Revel explains how afterward the French Socialists censored the
news in their media. The responsibility for Communism's atrocities
was shunted to its adversaries. If possible, these were real foes;
otherwise they were invented. Revel wrote his initial French text in
1988 and concluded: "The French Left thus brilliantly inaugurated a
tradition of censorship, which has not ceased to flourish right up to
the present, varying the doses within the limits of credibility, first on
behalf of the USSR, then of Red China, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia,
Angola, Guinea, Nicaragua, and many self-styled 'socialist' Third
Diplomats' Undiplomatic Behavior
The mood created by the political leaders of European countries toward
Israeli government officials often permeates their societies. The
EU's mindset and discriminatory attitude toward Israel is also manifested
by various European ambassadors. It is unlikely that some of
their statements would be tolerated concerning any other democratic
One of the most publicized scandals involved the former French
ambassador to the UK, the late Daniel Bernard. At the dinner table
in the home of then Daily Telegraph owner Lord Black, he said Israel
was a "shitty little country" that had triggered the international security
crisis.51 Bernard's remark was typical of the new anti-Semitism, in
which Israel has taken the place of the Jews as the scapegoat for the
Black's wife, journalist Barbara Amiel who is Jewish, quoted her
guest without giving his name or the country he represented in a Daily Telegraph column. It did not take long until other papers revealed
who Israel's undiplomatic detractor was.
Bernard's subsequent reaction gave even clearer insight into his
mindset. Initially the press secretary at the French embassy said that
the ambassador did not remember if he had used those words.52 Thereafter
Bernard insisted that what he had said had been thoroughly
distorted. It was reported that he - rather than addressing his own
anti-Semitism - was outraged "that a private discussion found its way
into the media."53 Zvi Shtauber, former Israeli ambassador to the
UK, relates that Bernard came to the Israeli embassy afterward to
apologize though publicly he had denied that he would do so.54
European Ambassadors to Israel
Such comments are even more offensive when made by European
ambassadors stationed in Israel. French Ambassador to Israel Gerard
Araud damaged his public reputation in an interview with Israeli Army
Radio, saying that the Israeli public loves to hate France and that
Israel has an "anti-French neurosis."55 Already before coming to Israel, Araud managed to antagonize its public opinion. Boaz Bismuth, the
French correspondent of the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, had overheard
him at a Paris cocktail party referring repeatedly to Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon as a "thug" and to Israel as a "paranoid country."
The French foreign office in a formal statement denied that he
had said these things.56
After 11 September 2001, Araud's predecessor in Israel, Jacques
Huntzinger also created a diplomatic incident by saying that the terrorist
attacks in Israel could not be compared to those in New York and
Washington. When asked for a reaction, the American ambassador
Daniel Kurtzer noted that a UN Security Council resolution after 11
September condemned all terror including Palestinian.57
Belgium's ambassador to Israel, Wilfred Geens, at the end of his
posting in 2002 was quoted by the Arabic weekly Kul al-Arab as calling
Infrastructure Minister E. Eitam a "fascist." He also described the
territories as the "biggest detention camp in the world." Geens later
claimed that the remarks attributed to him were misinterpreted.
Geens's comments were very similar to those British Ambassador
Sherard Cowper-Coles had made a few weeks earlier in a leaked
conversation with IDF Major General Amos Gilad, then coordinator
of government activities in the territories.58 The denials should largely
be seen as a diplomatic exercise.
Several of this author's acquaintances attended the Belgian consul
general's reception in Jerusalem in honor of his king's birthday at
the beginning of 2005. The diplomat eulogized Yasser Arafat as a
humanitarian before an audience comprised of the diplomatic corps,
notables, Christian and Muslim Arabs, and Jews. This was the more
offensive as Belgium had pretended to be the champion of human
rights with its universal law. Arafat was a prominent war criminal by
the standards promulgated in this law.
Israel encounters grave difficulties with the media. Slowly, international
awareness is increasing that the media's lack of accountability is becoming
a major problem for democratic society at large. Once again Israel
has become a test case for what is a much larger issue for the Western
Many European media have consistently taken extreme anti-Israeli
positions. German Christian Democratic parliamentarian Hildegard
Müller, who chairs the German-Israel Parliamentary Friendship
Group, considers that the media are partly responsible for Israel's problematic
image in Europe. She states that many of them copy news without
verifying its truth. They frequently show the same pictures, which
she calls "news preserves." Müller also mentions that a large number of
newspapers take their news from press agencies - for instance, Agence
France Press (AFP) - which leads to their identical reporting.59
France stands out, once again, for its negative attitude toward
Israel to a point that French sociologist Shmuel Trigano says: "One
can only wonder how it was possible in French democracy that all
major currents in society propagate similar ideas. It was frightening
to open one's television, read one's papers and see the same ideological
discourse of disinformation about Israel."60
In 2002, journalist Clément Weill Raynal analyzed several cases
of AFP's reporting. The first concerned the incidents on the Temple
Mount on 28 September 2000, considered the start of the second
Palestinian uprising. Another event he investigated was the death of
the Palestinian boy Mohammed Al-Dura, which AFP ascribed to
bullets fired by Israeli soldiers, while other observers believe they were
probably Palestinian ones. The debate on how the French media have
treated the Al-Dura affair has continued now for three years.
In January 2005 Denis Jeambar, editor in chief of l'Express and
Daniel Leconte, another French journalist, wrote that they had seen
all the footage shot by the cameraman, including the half-hour that
had not been shown on France 2 television. They concluded that many
staged events were visible in the videotape with Palestinians pretending
to be wounded and being brought to ambulances.61
A third case studied by Weill Raynal concerned AFP's silence about
Palestinian Communication Minister Imad Faloudji's declaration on
2 March 2001 that the Palestinian uprising had been planned for more
than a year, and was not due to Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple
A major step forward in exposing the French media's anti-Israeli
bias was the documentary Décryptage (Decoding). Its directors, Jacques
Tarnero and Philippe Bensoussan, analyzed AFP's reporting of
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through interviews and scenes from the
media. They said this enabled the viewers to form their own opinion
on the press agency's anti-Israeli bias.63
RAI and the Ramallah Lynching
Some extremely severe offenders among journalists have had their
Israeli press cards withdrawn. One of the best-known examples of a
journalist intentionally hiding negative facts about the Palestinians
concerned Riccardo Cristiano, the correspondent of the Italian state
network, RAI, in the Palestinian territories.
On 12 October 2000, two Israeli reserve soldiers were lynched by
Palestinians in Ramallah. The Italian private TV network Mediaset
filmed the murder and smuggled the pictures out. These included,
among others, a picture of a murderer who stood at a window with
"his bloodied hands raised in triumph to signal to the crowd below
that the soldiers had been killed."
To avoid misunderstanding as to which Italian network had taken
the pictures, Cristiano wrote a letter published on 16 October in the
Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida. He disclosed that the pictures
were taken by Mediaset. As a result, this media had to withdraw
its correspondents from the area to avoid Palestinian revenge.
Cristiano also declared that he would never have published the
pictures had they been his. In his open letter, he also offered "congratulations
and blessings" to his dear friends in Palestine.64
Europe's Worst Media Offender: The BBC
Trevor Asserson, a senior British litigation lawyer, has undertaken one
of the most sophisticated media analyses ever, focusing on the BBC.
He points to many breaches of the government charter, biases, and
double standards when reporting on the Middle East conflict.65 More
than ten years ago, after the Oslo agreements, then Jerusalem Post
editor David Bar-Illan already called the BBC "by far the worst
offender when it comes to Israel." He said there were hundreds of
examples of this in the political sphere.66
Another telling perspective on the international media's attitudes
toward Jews was provided by Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-chairman
of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish
The American political and lobbying systems are unique. Foreign
media cannot understand it. In every interview with the BBC and
other European and Japanese media, the main question inevitably
boils down to the influence of "the Jewish lobby." They do not
understand and therefore ascribe negative connotations to what is
consistent with American democracy, which offers minorities a say
if they choose to get involved.67
There is a large corpus of evidence of the BBC's anti-Israeli bias.
When Arafat, before his death, was flown to Paris, its correspondent
Barbara Plett for BBC Radio 4 said: "When the helicopter carrying the
frail old man rose above his ruined compound, I started to cry...without
warning. In quieter moments since, I have asked myself, why the sudden
surge of emotion?"68
The media-watching organization Honest Reporting wrote under
the title "Weeping for Yasser": "Plett's revelation of an emotional
bond with Yasser Arafat is a clear acknowledgement of her partisan
stand in the conflict....What does it say about the BBC that they
employ news reporters who are emotionally or ideologically attached
to one side of the conflict?"69
There are many recent examples of the BBC's biased mindset.
Sometimes even the BBC feels the need to apologize. In February
2005 in a religious program, BBC Radio 4 suggested that a Muslim
corporal in the Israeli army had been jailed because he refused to
shoot Palestinian children. The remark was made by the Reverend
Dr. John Bell of an ecumenical Christian organization, the Iona community.
In his apology he admitted that his story could have been
interpreted "as furtive racism," and this at a time when UK Jews are
already sensitive because of the rising anti-Semitism.70
As Israel and the Jews are defamed by so many media, Jewish organizations
and individuals have developed substantial media-watching activities.
Pro-Israeli media watching has, however, to a large extent focused
on the American press.
When analyzing these monitoring organizations, one finds that their
activities have a social and political importance that goes far beyond
the current public affairs aspects. More generally, media watching may
make a major contribution toward imposing on the media - sometimes
called the "fourth branch" of government - certain checks and balances
such as those existing for the executive, legislative, and judiciary.
Making media more accountable for what they say is a major
contribution to making societies more democratic. The more criticism
comes from many concerned people, the more monitoring will become
important to holding media accountable. As Diaspora Jews and Israelis
are in the forefront of this activity they fulfill a crucial role in
Western society in this important area.71
Creating an Anti-Israeli Atmosphere
All aforementioned factors together have helped create an anti-Israeli
atmosphere in large parts of European society. Israeli political scientist
Many in European politics, academia, the media, and the NGOs
use almost identical semantics. These four elements of society
parallel each other, and work together as well, reinforcing each
other in the overall attack on Israel. Analysis can start with any
one of them. When various European Union representatives and
diplomats condemn Israel they use standard vocabulary such as
"excessive force," "violation of human rights," or "violation of
A fifth factor comprises various Christian churches and organizations.
A detailed assessment of the complex process of European demonization
of Israel would require much more in-depth research. It would
have to include as well a study of the penetration of ongoing Arab
hate propaganda into European society. Furthermore, an assessment
would have to be made of the role of the media, politicians, extreme
European groups on the Left and the Right, as well as parts of the
European Muslim population and their representative bodies. Such
research would also have to include a sociological and psychological
analysis of those European countries whose governments have been
in the forefront of promoting the anti-Israeli sentiment.
Ten years ago, Bar-Illan considered that the politicians were responsible
for the change in the European attitude toward Israel. De
Gaulle was their precursor in 1967. After the Oslo agreements, Bar-Illan said concerning the anti-Israeli bias: "A general atmosphere
and attitude toward a problem is created by governments. Western
governments treat the Israeli-Palestinian issue completely differently
from the way they treat any other self-determination issue."73
He added: "The media are influenced by that. The press can claim
that they are very independent, but once it becomes fashionable to
think about the relationship between the Palestinians and Israel in a
David-and-Goliath context, almost everybody follows the trend. The
general mood thus created is an anti-Israeli mood."74
Academics, mainly left-wing, are another important anti-Israeli
component in Europe. Several have worked to get European universities
to cut ties with Israel. The main anti-Israeli campaigns have been
in England and to a lesser extent in France, though there have been
some efforts elsewhere such as in Belgium, Italy, and Norway.75
Indicators of Europe's Mood
The frequent repetition by many Europeans of excessive charges
against Israel has created in many places a climate hostile to those
who want to defend Israel. It expresses itself in many ways also outside
the media and public discourse. It has also made criticizing Israel in
elite salons both frequent and politically correct.
Jeffrey Gedmin, the American director of the Berlin Aspen Institute,
mentions that elegant dinner parties in Germany have become
places where the majority commonly bashes Bush and Sharon as
substitutes for anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism of various kinds.
Those who disagree often remain silent under the onslaught.75
An American Jewish political scientist who prefers to remain anonymous
- which is telling - said to this author:
When I'm in Europe I move among left-liberal intellectuals, which
are mainly my circle. Going to dinner parties I can be sure in advance
that they will rant and rave about the United States. It is completely
acceptable - I also generally welcome that - to do so against the
powerful. In Vienna, such people will hold back, when I'm present,
about Israel because of the bizarre and unclear overlap between
Israel and the Jews. In Paris they have no reservations to speak
similarly about Israel as they do about the United States because
they think they do not have a Holocaust past.
An assessment of such a mindset can only be anecdotic. It is
thus important to bring more supporting evidence from as many EU
countries as possible. Robin Shepherd of the Center for Strategic and
International Studies writes:
Go to a dinner party in Paris, London or any other European capital
and watch how things develop. The topic of conversation may be
Iraq, it may be George Bush, it may be Islam, terrorism or weapons
of mass destruction. However it starts out, you can be sure of where
it will inevitably, and often irrationally, end - with a dissection of
the Middle East situation and a condemnation of Israeli actions in
the occupied territories. I can't count how many times I've seen it.
European sympathy for the Palestinians runs high, while hostility
toward Israel is often palpable.77
Nineteen Days without Abuse
Carol Gould, an American Jew living in London, mentions that her
American accent gives her away while she is not necessarily identified
as a Jew. When visiting the United States, she suddenly realized: "I've
gone for nineteen days without anybody - not taxi drivers, shop clerks
or waiters - launching an abusive tirade at me."78
Gould also relates her experiences concerning Israel and says: "the
daily dose of relentless American bashing in the European media
combined with the abundance of criticism of Israel has created an
atmosphere of anger and hostility that for the first time in my lifetime
makes me fearful for my safety in my beloved adopted country, Great
Britain." She also asks: "Where will it all end? I know Jews - including
Anglo-Jews - who have ceased socializing because of the abuse they
receive from old friends."
Gould observes: "The paradox is that we have Islamic extremists
in our midst in Britain preaching all manner of mayhem and holding
'festivals' to celebrate the 'magnificent nineteen of September
11th.'" She asks a rhetorical question stressing British double standards:
"How many Americans invite ex-pat Brits to their dinner
table only to abuse and intimidate them, especially if they are Jewish?"
She does not have to add that nobody does so because it is
"Salon anti-Israelism" is a widespread European phenomenon. U.S.
journalism professor Ari Goldman wrote about his travel in Greece:
As an American Jewish academic traveling in Europe, I expected
that I would get angry questions about U.S. foreign policy, especially
the war in Iraq and President George W. Bush's support for the
Israeli government of Ariel Sharon. But I didn't expect the anger
would be directed toward Jews.
"Don't you think that American Jews have too much power?"
one well dressed man challenged me at a university-sponsored dinner
in Athens. "They control everything. They control Bush. They control
America. It's got to be stopped."
Goldman adds that when he was in Salonika "another professor
called the Christian Zionists hypocrites for their support of Israeli
policies. 'How can they profess a religion of love and at the same time
support "targeted killings" of Palestinians?' he asked."80 This question
acquires particular resonance if one considers that Greece's mainly
Orthodox population overwhelmingly and enthusiastically supported
the Serbs in the Yugoslav War, when they carried out even more mass
murders than the other parties involved in the conflict. This Greek
viewpoint gains also more perspective in light of the multiple atrocities
committed by the government units and the communist revolutionaries
in the Greek civil war of the mid-1940s.
Trigano mentions that he frequently hears French Jews say things
like: "We don't go to dinner with our non-Jewish friends anymore,
nor do we see them." He explains that at many dinners, people talk
aggressively about Israel and, thus, about Jews - who then feel the
need to defend Israel's position in view of the excessive criticism. They
are then accused of being supporters of Sharon and violence. In light
of this, Jews decide to avoid such discussions and meetings.81
Even though only some cases can be documented, the phenomenon
is Europe-wide. One Jewish woman told this author that she is one
of the few Dutch Jews who is so fed up with the Netherlands that she
is preparing to leave for Israel. She also mentioned that some of her
Gentile neighbors say things like, "It is not very nice what you people
are doing to the Palestinians," thus holding her, as a Dutch Jew,
responsible for Israel's actions. Her ancestors have lived in the
Netherlands for centuries.
This story dates back to before the more than hundred attacks
on Muslims and their institutions in the Netherlands in the first month
after the killing by a Dutch Muslim fanatic, Mohammed Bouyeri, of
an autochtone Dutchman, the filmmaker Theo van Gogh in November 2004.
A Spanish Mindset
Indications of this anti-Israeli attitude are widespread in Europe. On
the municipal information board in Oleiros, a small town in northern
Spain, a bright red illuminated sign said: "Let's stop the animal, Sharon
the assassin, stop the neo-Nazis." When the Israeli ambassador called
the mayor of Oleiros, Angel Garcia Seoane, he told him that he stood
fully behind the message. The municipality was also selling on its
website T-shirts with anti-Sharon slogans.82
This happened in November 2004 in a country where in March
of that year Arabs belonging to an international Islamist organization
had murdered almost two hundred and wounded many more. How
did it occur to the mayor to devote this billboard to Sharon? Why not
to Bin Laden or another Islamist terrorist leader who had supported
murdering and wounding so many Spaniards?
Spain is a country where before the Second World War, both the
Republicans, i.e., the forces of the legal Spanish government and the
Nationalists, the fascist rebels, committed frequent mass atrocities
against civilians of a nature unheard of on the Israeli side of the
conflict with the Palestinians.
To put the deaths resulting from the current Palestinian uprising
in historical perspective, some information on the Spanish Civil War
is indicative. The British historian Hugh Thomas estimates that about
75,000 people were executed or murdered by the Republicans between
18 July and 1 September 1936. He notes:
Many of these crimes were accompanied by a partly frivolous, partly
sadistic cruelty....The bishop of Jaé n was killed with his sister by a
specially invited militiawoman nicknamed La Pescosa (the freckled)
before a crowd of two thousand tumultuous people near Madrid....
There were isolated instances of the violation of nuns, before their
execution....Several priests were undoubtedly burned alive....An exhibition
of the exhumed bodies of Salesian nuns attracted great
crowds in Barcelona....In Ciudad Real, eight hundred persons were
thrown down a mine shaft....And always the moment of death
would be greeted with applause, as if it were the moment of truth
in a corrida. Then there would be shouts of "Liberty! Down with
All in all, the number of murdered by the progressive forces, precursors
of the current Spanish Left, was probably around 85,000 during
the Civil War. Thomas estimates that the Nationalists killed and executed
about forty thousand civilians and also committed countless
Ilka Schröder gives another indication of the mood of Europe:
"You have only to see the exhibitions on Israel and Palestine in the
European Parliament's foyer - where Israel is accused of sociocide
and branded as an apartheid state - to know which side the EU is
We have seen that attacks and accusations in Europe against Israel
and Jews are often interlinked. This is a subject for a book rather
than for a few paragraphs in an essay. Yet the resurgence of European
anti-Semitism after the Holocaust proves again unequivocally how
deep its roots are in European society.
A phenomenon that develops intensely in an entire continent over
a period of many centuries becomes deeply embedded in its societal
mindset and behavior. The anti-Semitic wave in Europe of the past
few years indicates that it is impossible to eradicate such a deep-seated
Christian anti-Semitism, the oldest European type of Jew-hatred,
continues to manifest itself as well. In Greece, for instance, there
are multiple remnants of Christian anti-Semitism to which new elements
are added. Every year in hundreds of places an Easter ritual
takes place of "burning the effigy of Judas as a tourist attraction.
Sometimes it is described as burning the Jew." Past condemnations
of this ritual by the Greek Orthodox Church have had very little
The New Anti-Semitism
While anti-Semitism's main motifs have remained remarkably identical,
they have mutated over the centuries.87 Canadian Justice Minister
Irwin Cotler observed: "Traditional anti-Semitism denied Jews the
right to live as equal members of society, but the new anti-Jewishness
denies the right of the Jewish people to live as an equal member of
the family of nations."88
The most recent major version of anti-Semitism targets Israel.
This variant of Jew-hatred is now commonly referred to as "new anti-Semitism." Its perpetrators often call themselves anti-Zionists. They
aim to isolate Israel and present it - in the words of the Berlin Technical
University's Center for Research on Anti-Semitism - "as a state that
is fundamentally negatively distinct from all others, which therefore
has no right to exist."89
Cotler has defined the new, Israel-oriented anti-Semitism in a
number of ways. One of these is that it denies the Jewish people
the right to self-determination, delegitimizing Israel as a state and
attributing all the world's misfortune to it. It ascribes to the country
a mix of evil qualities (cultural anti-Semitism). It also calls for restrictions
against those trading with Israel (economic anti-Semitism) and
singles out Israel for discriminatory treatment in the international
arena through denial of equality before the law.90
Cartoons are one of the simple tools to identify and analyze anti-Semitism. Those who draw them have to invoke widely known, simple
stereotypes of the Jews. Many contemporary extreme anti-Israeli cartoons
are mutations of motifs used in the Nazi media. The main source
of cartoons demonizing Jews is the Arab world. Some motifs have
filtered into various European media including mainstream ones.
Kotek has analyzed how the main recurrent motif in Arab cartoons
concerning Israel is "the devilish Jew." This image conveys the idea
that Jews behave like Nazis, kill children, and love blood. The similarity
of the themes with those promulgated by the Nazis is evident. Many
Arab cartoons praise suicide bombing or call for murder. To dehumanize
Jews, Arab cartoonists often depict them as malevolent creatures:
spiders, vampires, or octopuses. The collective image of the Jews thus
projected lays the groundwork for a possible genocide.
Palestinian cartoonists often emphasize the anti-Semitic theme of
ritual murder by Jews of children. This is underscored by their false
claim that Israelis specifically target Palestinian children.91, 92
Also in European cartoons there are many comparisons between
Jews and Nazis, the Star of David and the swastika, the security
fence and the Warsaw Ghetto wall. One finds anti-Semitic cartoons
in leading mainstream papers remote from fascism or the extreme
Left. These include the London Independent, the Italian La Stampa,
the Spanish El Pais, and many others. Even if these publications are
incidental, it still indicates that all borders have been breached in a
continent where sixty years ago, the overwhelming majority of the
Jews were murdered by Germans and Austrians with the assistance
of many other Europeans.
One typical illustration of this phenomenon was when the British
daily The Independent published a cartoon by Dave Brown depicting
Sharon as a child-eater. It should be pointed out that the libel of Jews
using the blood of Gentile children for religious purposes originated
in England during the Middle Ages. In response to protests, the UK
Press Complaints Commission cleared the cartoon.93
The discriminatory character of the Independent cartoon was emphasized
by Shtauber. He asked the paper's Jewish editor, Simon
Kelner, when it had ever published a similar caricature of a public
figure. Kelner had to go back eighteen years to find one.94
Anti-Semitism in European schools is not unusual. One cannot
blame only Muslims for this, many of which are now nationals of European
countries. Even in Germany, with its great efforts at Holocaust
education, polls indicate that anti-Semitism has returned massively.
To believe that this is largely unrelated to the image of Israel
created by European politicians, media, and academics is to bury one's
head in the sand.
Polls express in numbers what the anecdotes of the mood among the
elites at the dinner table or in universities indicate qualitatively. The
most relevant country here is Germany in view of the major investment
in reeducation after its defeat in World War II. A 2004 poll of the
University of Bielefeld analyzed various aspects of German critical
attitudes regarding Israel's policy toward the Palestinians. The study
concludes that the criticism of Israel is to a certain extent a cover for
The authors, in their quest to locate the borderlines between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel, conclude:
Criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic when it denies Israel's right of
existence and of self-defense. When it draws historical comparisons
between Israel's policy toward the Palestinians and the persecution
of the Jews in the Third Reich, when it judges Israel's policy with a
double standard, when it transfers anti-Semitic stereotypes onto the
state of Israel or transfers this criticism to Jews in general and makes
Jews generally responsible for events in the Near East.95
According to the authors' definition, on at least one of these
criteria the majority of the Germans polled hold anti-Semitic positions.
It concerns comparing Israel's policy toward the Palestinians
with the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany. Thirty-five percent
fully agree and 33 percent are inclined to agree with the statement
that Israel "is conducting a war to destroy the Palestinians."
Twenty-seven percent fully agree and 24 percent are inclined to agree
that "what Israel does to the Palestinians in principle is not different
than what the Nazis in the Third Reich did to the Jews." Only 19
percent disagree totally and 30 percent are inclined to disagree. The
findings of this 2004 survey confirm and strengthen findings of
earlier surveys on German anti-Semitism that have been analyzed
by several authors.96
Many other polls found substantial anti-Semitic stereotypes
among European populations.97 A 2002 opinion poll carried out on
behalf of the Anti-Defamation League found that one out of five
respondents in five countries: Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, and
the Netherlands, can be characterized as "most anti-Semitic."98
The ADL's 2005 survey, carried out in twelve countries, found
that "A plurality of those surveyed across Europe, 43 percent, believe
that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country, with a
majority of respondents in Italy, Germany, Poland and Spain saying
they believe that this statement is 'probably true.'" Twenty-nine percent
of those polled say their opinion of Jews is influenced by Israeli
Yet another poll carried out in nine EU countries for the Italian
daily Corriere della Sera found substantial anti-Semitic trends. In all
countries, anti-Semitic sentiment paralleled anti-Israeli sentiment.100
A poll conducted around the same time in the UK found that almost
20 percent of Britons consider that a Jewish prime minister would be
less acceptable than a non-Jewish one.101 This is particularly relevant
as Michael Howard, the Conservative Party's leader, is Jewish.
Is Europe Sick and Decadent?
As illustrated, there are widespread double standards toward Israel
in Europe. Major newspapers publish extreme anti-Semitic cartoons.
All polls find substantial anti-Semitism of the old and new varieties
on the continent. Under Soviet rule, Russian writer Andrei Siniavsky
is reputed to have said that: "anti-Semitism is a disaster for the
Jews, but it is the sickness of the Russians and their disaster as
Not surprisingly, several Jewish and Israeli observers - remembering
the mass-murder of Jews in the twentieth century - consider Europe
a sick or decadent continent. Robert Wistrich says: "Anti-Semitism
is a primary symptom of social pathology. Every society that becomes
seriously infected by it is receiving a wakeup call about its social,
cultural, and political health." He sees in Europe's anti-Israelism a
"deep pathology, a suicidal syndrome."103
Melanie Phillips wrote under the title "The Moral Sickness of the
The degradation and corruption of British and western society, not
to mention the United Nations, are now on sickening display for all
with eyes to see from the disgusting response to the death of Arafat.
This man, the godfather of modern terrorism, who caused the deaths
of thousands of souls, who preached death and destruction towards
the Jews, who terrorized and swindled the Palestinian Arabs he purported
to lead and kept them trapped in penury, servitude and
squalor, is being feted in death as a world statesman.
The reaction of the free world to Arafat's death, along with the
opprobrium heaped daily upon his victims in Israel, illustrates
the decadence that now rewards evil and punishes those whom it
terrorizes. It is a horrifying indication of a world that has simply
lost its fundamental understanding of right and wrong. All who
value life, liberty and justice should take careful note and shudder
at this moral - and mortal - sickness. This is the way a civilization
Decadent or Criminal?
Blum says when discussing the European attitude toward terrorism:
I think Israel finds greater understanding for its predicament in the
former Communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, rather
than in the countries of Western Europe which seem to have become
quite decadent. They prefer short range comfort and don't want to
be bothered by inconvenient developments. Most probably they have
lost their vital instincts in this regard.105
After the van Gogh murder this author asked a Dutch Protestant
theologian friend: "When will the Dutch finally understand that
Palestinian bloodshed and radical Islamist violence belong to the same
family?" He answered: "When you are schizophrenic, making such a
connection can take a long time."
As mentioned, the EU reaches its most extreme bias against Israel
at the United Nations. Bayefsky summarizes her view: "The evil of
anti-Semitism today moves through its UN host like an opportunistic
pathogen. First discrimination of Israel, followed by its demonization,
the deification of the enemies of the Jewish state, the denial of Jewish
victimhood, denunciation of the Israeli who fights back, and finally
the refusal to identify the assailants."106
A French non-Jewish philosopher took these negative judgments of
Europe a step further. Jean-Claude Milner titled a book The Criminal
Inclinations of Democratic Europe. In an interview he referred to the
anti-Semitism - other than Muslim - in Europe:
I think there is an autochthonous anti-Semitism in Europe which
doesn't come from the past but from the future....Today we see an
anti-Semitism which doesn't originate from old people, but from
youth, and thus is not likely to disappear, but rather to become
stronger....This is an actual problem. We are dealing with a modern
Are the Jews Leaving?
In conversations with committed Jews in Europe, they often express
doubts about their future as Jews on the continent. Yet it is
not simple for them to leave the society in which they have grown
up. One feels familiar there even if threatened culturally or
Some more specific indications have been obtained by polls or
otherwise. Seventy-seven percent of French Jews feared in 2002 for
their personal safety due to Islamic terrorism. In a poll, Eric Cohen
of Bar-Ilan University found that those willing to consider emigration
to Israel amounted to about 36 percent while 6 percent of the families
surveyed had already decided to do so.108
Kotek gives his impressions on Belgium: "Many Jews think about
leaving Belgium. Very few will do so because it is difficult. Where
should they go? Israel is a tough country to live in even if they like
it. What remains - United States, Australia? Identified Jews do not
know what to do, even if they ask themselves questions about their
future in Belgium."109
In a letter to Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Bondevik, the
Norwegian Israel Center against Anti-Semitism (NIS) accused him of
discrimination toward Israel by frequently criticizing it while Norway
keeps silent about the Arabs' repression of the Kurds, the Christians,
the Copts, the Berbers, and the Jews. The NIS pointed out that:
"approximately half of the Jewish youths of Norway have chosen to
move out of Norway during your tenure as Prime Minister. The reason
for this is the increasing hatred of the Jews."110
Germany is the one exception as far as number of Jews is concerned.
Because of the influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union,
many of whom have little Jewish identification, the community is
Characterizing the EU and Its Worldviews
The foregoing describes Europe's double standards toward Israel and
what they have caused. One has to assess as well what should have
separated Israel and Europe objectively. Only a few indicative remarks
can be made.
To do so one has to define Europe's characteristics, policies, and
worldviews. For Israeli strategy expert Yehezkel Dror, Europe is characterized
by its focus on citizens' welfare and neglect of security risks.
It is busy with current issues but does not devote adequate attention
to the long-term future.111
For Trigano, the EU's ambitions mainly create associations with
the Napoleonic Empire because of its bureaucratic political character.
He points out that every empire needs an enemy, and Europe
defines itself in opposition to the policies of the nationalist American
Andrei Markovits, a political scientist at the University of Michigan,
says: "Nobody knows what it means to be a European. It is
unclear what Greeks and Swedes have in common. But one important
characteristic they share is their not being American." He also observes
that anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are the only major icons
shared by the European extreme Left and Right, including neo-
The rejection of its proposed constitution by the populations of
France and The Netherlands in spring 2005 has created some uncertainty
about the direction the European Union may take. It is telling
mainly in regard to the EU's worldview that many observers consider
that a crisis in a democratic entity such as the EU may be advantageous
for another democracy, Israel. This author summed it up by saying:
"While past EU policies have been heavily biased against Israel, as it
enters a period of disarray, EU policies may become less threatening
Within the overall tension between Europe and Israel, the new East
European entrants into the EU do not play a major role. Mark Sofer,
a deputy director-general at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, notes that
these countries do not have a common policy within the EU. He
considers that factors such as historical obligation toward the Jews,
wanting to distance themselves from their Communist past, their gratitude
to the United States for liberating them from Soviet domination,
and the absence of significant Muslim minorities all make these countries
more positive toward Israel than the older EU members.
Sofer concludes that in terms of how relations with these countries
will develop, much will depend on Israel itself and how much it invests
in the relationship. He considers that there is major goodwill on both
It would be mistaken, though, to consider Israel's relationships
with the East European countries without problems. Some of these
countries were allies of Germany in World War II. Efraim Zuroff of
the Simon Wiesenthal Center says that East European societies are
being forced to confront for the first time the role their own nationals
played in the murders of the Jews or in assisting in their deportation. In
the Baltic states this local participation in war crimes was substantial.
He adds: "practical issues such as the acknowledgment of the
crimes, commemoration of the victims, prosecution of the perpetrators,
and documentation of the events are proving to be a major source of
tension and conflict between Jews and non-Jews."116
A Growing Abyss
This raises the question of whether the gap between Israel and Europe
is widening. Once again, one can base oneself only on impressions.
Gedmin considers that Europe's anti-Israeli sentiment is increasing.
He attributes this to four factors: the attempt to assuage guilt over
Europe's murderous past, rivalry with the United States, anti-Semitism,
and the rejection of European concepts of society by the majority
Milner contends that European anti-Judaism is linked to the
affirmation of Europe itself. On the one hand, it wants to assert itself
vis-à-vis the United States. On the other, having realized its unity, it
wants to present itself as a model for humanity. In his view, at the
Anti-Racism Conference in Durban, Europe and the Islamic world
found themselves standing together on an anti-Jewish platform.118
After the 1993 Oslo agreements, Italian-Israeli political scientist
Dan Segre reflected on the changes in the European position toward
Israel. He said many Europeans were enthusiastic about Israel's independence
in 1948 because they saw in it the realization of an ideal
state. The shock of the Holocaust was another reason for this positive
Segre saw four reasons why this attitude changed:
The dream of the ideal state, unrealistic from the beginning, had to
break down. Israel refused to be the only vegetarian state in a world
of predators. To this came the sudden increase in Arab wealth as a
result of the inept way the West handled the oil crisis in 1973. A
third factor was the conjunction of Arab and communist propaganda
against Zionism. A fourth factor was Israel's ties with the United
States or, in leftist propaganda terms, American imperialism.119
At the time, Segre already wondered whether Israel could ever trust
Europe. He considered that the central thread of European attitudes
toward Jews consisted of long-held historical prejudices, complexes,
and frustrations. These had been extended over the decades toward
the state of Israel. Already then, Segre asserted that anti-Semitism had
not disappeared but rather been broadened to include anti-Zionism.120
Europe has applied to Israel many double political standards. This
indicates that Israel cannot meet Europe's desires without endangering
itself. Israel's attitude thus affects nuances of European policies rather
than its essence.
In such a context one would have expected the Israeli government
to undertake a profound analysis of what it is up against and to assess
how the total war waged against it operates. This necessary first step
to use Israel's limited resources more effectively in the propaganda
battle has still not been properly undertaken.
Even worse, Israeli government reactions on specific issues have
lacked competence and understanding. Johannes Gerster, representative
of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Israel, recounts how after
the beginning of the new Palestinian uprising in 2000 he attempted
to convince important figures in the Israeli government that propaganda
was a crucial part of the war. He said that Israelis had to
provide pictures to counter the one-sided ones from Palestinian society
and political groups. Israeli reactions for a long time showed no comprehension
What to Do?
The first step in the process of Israel trying to change its relationship
with Europe is to systematically expose Europe's double standards
toward it. The foregoing outlines many elements of these. Doing so
requires a thorough and detailed analysis of the European bias. Even
the fact that such a broad assessment involving historians, lawyers,
psychologists, and public relations experts was being undertaken would
perhaps make some appliers of double standards nervous.
Any such exposure would not focus on a whole front, but rather
deal with individual cases. Much effort would have to be applied to
these. It does not require much to take on the media in a country like
Norway, which is not part of the EU. It is a country that pretends to
be human rights oriented yet has severely discriminated against the
Jews after the Second World War and now does so against Israel. It
is not by chance that the internationally best-known Norwegian is the
Nazi collaborator Quisling. Many of the dark elements in Norway's
past are well documented. Its current biases against Israel are easy to
Preliminary work has already been done by the NIS. Some quotes
from a letter to Prime Minister Bondevik illustrate this:
Norway and yourself consistently react strongly against the least
breach of human rights in Israel, but only when it benefits Israel's
enemies. Norway remained silent when the PLO and Syria carried
out a massacre of the Christians in Lebanon (1974-82), when Iraq
carried out a massacre of the Kurds in North Iraq, and when Syria
massacred its own civilians in Hama in 1982. Yourself and Norway
were also concerned about Israel's affairs but at the same time kept
silent about the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, and the silence continues
when these days Muslims are carrying out a genocide in Sudan, until
now of two million Christians, where the situation in Darfour is only
a drop in the ocean. This is discrimination.
The letter added:
We notice the difference in your criticism of Israel and the others.
We note that yourself and Norway are not equally concerned about
human rights in other places, and do not let such facts as oppressions,
murder and torture stop you from investing billions in Iran, Libya
and other dictatorships. In the Nazi period, Norway invested in
companies which contributed to the Holocaust. Even today, Norwegian
companies invest heavily with the government's full support and
blessing in countries which try to "complete Hitler's unfinished job"
on the Jews in Israel.122
Similarly one can confront media, particularly state-owned ones,
in other European countries. For years the Mohammed Al-Dura affair
has been simmering, while there are strong indications that France
2, one of the French state-owned television stations, has knowingly
presented a distorted picture of the material it possessed.
These are only a few examples concerning some of those who
apply double standards. It is highly likely that a few successful exposures
would make others more careful. Today attacking Israel is often
free of risk for its European defamers.
Developing a Strategy
Simultaneously Israel has to develop a strategy toward Europe. The
tension between Israel and Europe has led to many ideas about what
could be done to improve relations. Yehezkel Dror writes: "Israel
urgently needs to craft a grand strategy toward the European Union
aimed at improving relations and upgrading cooperation with the
EU also in political and security matters. This would require substantial
changes in the Israeli political system and the machinery of
Shtauber says that while Israel does not have many resources
we must invest heavily in expanding the dialogue with Europe. We
must spend more time on contacts with various groups including
opinion leaders and students. We must consider Europe almost in
the same category as the United States. With the Americans, Israel
maintains various frameworks where one can talk freely outside the
official system. That gives both parties a chance to better understand
each other's problems.124
Israelis and Europeans should not give up the fight for a common
understanding. Despite all the difficulties, there are no alternatives.
We will not find other friends so rapidly and thus must stay together.
A more intensive European-Israeli dialogue should be initiated. This
should be done through a privileged partnership of Israel with the
EU. A European security guarantee for Israel must be part of such
a privileged partnership.125
To all of this one major conclusion should be added, which is
drawn by several observers. As Israel can much less afford the frequent
hostility than the Europeans, it should take the initiative to see how
the damage can be limited. This without endangering vital interests
or remaining silent about the injustice Europe is doing to it.
* * *
1. Manfred Gerstenfeld, "The Deep Roots of Anti-Semitism in European
Society," Jewish Political Studies Review, 17, Nos. 1 & 2 (Spring 2005),
* * *
2. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Robert Wistrich, "Something Is Rotten
in the State of Europe: Anti-Semitism as a Civilizational Pathology," Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, no. 25, 1 October 2004.
3. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Dore Gold, "Europe's Consistent Anti-Israeli Bias at the United Nations," Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No.
34, 1 July 2005.
4. Anne Bayefsky, "Perspectives on Anti-Semitism Today," lecture at conference
"Confronting Anti-Semitism: Education for Tolerance and Understanding,"
United Nations Department of Information, New York, 21 June 2004. "One
Small Step," WSJ.com, Opinion Journal, Wall Street Journal, 21 June 2004,
5. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Anne Bayefsky, "The United Nations:
Leading Global Purveyor of Anti-Semitism," Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism,
No. 31, 1 April 2005.
6. Anne Bayefsky, "Fatal Failure," National Review Online, 30 November 2004.
7. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Anne Bayefsky, "The United Nations:
Leading Global Purveyor of Anti-Semitism."
8. Personal interview with Yehuda Blum.
9. Personal interview with Meir Rosenne.
10. Amos Harel, "EU Wants to Question Palestinian Prisoners about PA Funds,"
Haaretz web edition, 4 August 2004.
11. Ilka Schröder, "Europe's Crocodile Tears," Jerusalem Post, 19 February 2004.
12. Yohanan Manor, Les manuels scolaires palestiniens: une génération sacrifiéé
(Paris: Berg International éditeurs, 2003), 130ff. (French).
13. Gerald Steinberg, "Abusing the Legacy of the Holocaust: The Role of NGOs
in Exploiting Human Rights to Demonize Israel," Jewish Political Studies
Review, 16, Nos. 3 & 4 (Fall 2004), 67.
15. Edwin Black, "Funding Hate, Part IV: Audit of Palestinian Group Suggests
Lax Funding Controls," JTA, 16 October 2003.
16. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Moses Altsech, "Anti-Semitism in
Greece: Embedded in Society," Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 23,
1 August 2004.
17. Personal interview with Meir Rosenne.
18. George Orwell, Collected Essays (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970), 3: 381-
19. Moses Altsech writing under the pseudonym Daniel Perdurant, "Anti-Semitism
in Contemporary Greek Society," Analysis of Current Trends in Anti-Semitism, No. 7 (Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1995), 10.
20. Per Ahlmark, "Palme's Legacy 15 Years On," Project Syndicate, February
21. Personal interview with Meir Rosenne.
22. Freddy Eytan, La France, Israel et les Arabes: le double jeu? (Paris: Jean
Picollec, 2005), 21 (French).
23. Personal interview with Yehuda Blum.
24. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Dore Gold, "Europe's Consistent Anti-Israeli Bias at the United Nations," Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism,
No. 34, 1 July 2005.
25. Manfred Gerstenfeld, "The Mahathir Affair: A Case Study in Mainstream
Islamic Anti-Semitism" Jerusalem Viewpoints, No. 506, 2 November 2003.
26. Jean-Christophe Ruffin, "Chantier sur la Lutte contre le Racisme et l'antisémitisme,"
Ministère de l'interieur, de la sécurité interieure, et des libertés locales,
30 October 2004 (French).
27. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Martin Hier, "Building a Major Organization
from Scratch," in American Jewry's Challenge: Conversations Confronting
the 21st Century (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), 188.
30. "Europe and Hizbullah," Jerusalem Post, 15 February 2005.
31. Joel Kotek, "La Belgique et ses Juifs: de l'Antijudaisme comme code culturel,
á l'Antisionisme comme religion civique," Les etudes du Crif 4, 4, Paris, 2004 (French).
32. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Nathan Durst, "Europe: From Guilt
Feelings to Repackaging Anti-Semitism," in Europe's Crumbling Myths: The
Post-Holocaust Origins of Today's Anti-Semitism (Jerusalem: Jerusalem
Center for Public Affairs, 2003), 35.
33. Manfred Gerstenfeld, "Rewriting Germany's Nazi Past: A Society in Moral
Decline," Jerusalem Viewpoints, no. 530, 1 May 2005.
34. Manfred Gerstenfeld, "Anti-Semitism: Integral to European Culture," Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 19, 1 April 2004.
35. Mike O'Brien, "Labour and British Muslims: Can We Dream the Same
Dream?" Muslim Weekly, No. 61, 7-13 January 2005.
36. Moses Altsech writing under the pseudonym Daniel Perdurant, "Anti-Semitism
in Contemporary Greek Society," 10.
37. "You Can Kill a Jew," Central Jewish Board Information Bulletin, 1 January
1989; the Washington Post article was quoted therein.
38. Herb Keinon, "Danish FM: Ze'evi Murder Same as Targeted Killings,"
Jerusalem Post, 19 October 2001.
39. Fraser Nelson, "Anger over Dalyells's 'Jewish Cabal' Slur," The Scotsman,
5 May 2003.
40. Chris Tryhorn, "Ken Called Ex-Times Mana Nazi Too," www.guardian.co.uk,
18 February 2005.
41. "Blair Asks London Mayor to Apologize for Anti-Semitic Remarks," Haaretz.com, 16 February 2005.
42. "Israel-Kritik oder Antisemitismus?" Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 26 April 2002
43. Salomo Berlinger, Stefan Meisels, Torsten Press, and Willy Salomon,
"Sweden Can Do Much More for Country's Jewish Community," Haaretz,
10 June 2004.
44. "Antisemitism Worldwide, 2002-3," Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of
Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism, Tel Aviv University.
46. Herb Keinon, "Israel Fumes at Straw's Floral Tribute to Arafat," Jerusalem
Post, 26 November 2004.
47. "Swiss Jews Criticize Middle East Trip," NZZ Online, 14 February
48. Sam Ser, "European Jews Speak Out against Their Gov'ts," Jerusalem Post,
24 February 2005.
49. Jean-François Revel, The Flight from Truth (New York: Random House,
51. Andrew Pierce, "French Ambassador Blurts Out: 'That Shitty Little Country
Israel,'" The Times, 19 December 2001.
52. Matthew Norman, "Diary," The Guardian, 19 December 2001.
53. "'Anti-Semitic' French Envoy under Fire," BBC News internet edition, 20
54. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Zvi Shtauber, "British Attitudes toward
Israel and the Jews," in Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss? (Jerusalem:
JCPA and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2005), 190.
55. Herb Keinon, "French Envoy Criticizes Israel," Jerusalem Post, 9 December
56. Philip Carmel, "Even before He Arrives in Israel, French Envoy Starts Off
on the Wrong Foot," JTA, 1 September 2003.
57. Dala Shehori, Yossi Verter, and Nitzan Horowitz, "French Envoy: No Comparing
Terror in U.S. and Israel," Haaretz.com, 15 February 2005.
58. Charlotte Halle, "Belgian Ambassador Denies Calling Eitam a 'Fascist,'"
Haaretz, 15 November 2002.
59. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Hildegard Müller, "Israel and Europe:
The Positive and the Negative," in Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss?
60. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Shmuel Trigano, "French Anti-Semitism:
A Barometer for Gauging Society's Perverseness," Post-Holocaust and
Anti-Semitism, No. 26, 1 November 2004.
61. Denis Jeambar and Daniel Leconte, "Guet-apens dans la guerre des images,"
Le Figaro, 25 January 2005 (French).
62. Clément Weill Raynal, "L'Agence France Presse: le récit contre les faits,"
Observatoire du monde juif, No. 2, March 2002 (French).
63. Décryptage, directed by Jacques Tarnero and Philippe Bensoussan, 2002.
64. Rory Carroll and Ian Black, "TV Row over Mob Footage 'Betrayal,'" The
Guardian, 20 October 2000.
65. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Trevor Asserson, "The BBC: Widespread
Antipathy toward Israel," in Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss?
66. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with David Bar-Illan, "The Loaded Dice of
the Foreign Media Are There to Stay," in Israel's New Future: Interviews
(Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 1994), 117.
67. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Malcolm Hoenlein, in American Jewry's
Challenge: Conversations Confronting the 21st Century, 152.
68. Jason Deans, "BBC's Arafat Report Sparks Protest," The Guardian, 5 November
70. "BBC Apologizes for Airing Erroneous Story on IDF soldier," Haaretz.com,
18 February 2005.
71. Manfred Gerstenfeld and Ben Green, "Watching the Pro-Israeli Media
Watchers," Jewish Political Studies Review, 16, Nos. 3 & 4 (Fall 2004), 33-58.
72. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Gerald Steinberg, "European NGOs
against Israel," in Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss? 112.
73. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with David Bar-Illan, "The Loaded Dice of
the Foreign Media Are There to Stay" in Israel's New Future: Interviews,
75. Manfred Gerstenfeld, "The Academic Boycott against Israel," Jewish Political
Studies Review, 15, Nos. 3 & 4 (Fall 2003), 9.
76. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Jeffrey Gedmin, "Experiencing European
Anti-Americanism and Anti-Israelism," Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism,
No. 27, 1 December 2004.
77. Robin Shepherd, "In Europe, an Unhealthy Fixation on Israel," Washington
Post, 30 January 2005.
78. Carol Gould, "An American Scapegoat in London," The Guardian, 16 October
80. Ari L. Goldman, "Meanwhile: The Jewish Ghosts of Salonika," International
Herald Tribune, 6 May 2004.
81. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Shmuel Trigano, "French Anti-Semitism:
A Barometer for Gauging Society's Perverseness," Post-Holocaust and
Anti-Semitism, No. 26, 1 November 2004.
82. Herb Keinon, "Spain: Anti-Sharon Municipality Sign," Jerusalem Post, 16
83. Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1961),
84. Ibid., 169.
85. Beth R. Alexander, "Analysis: Europe's Secret Battleground," www.upi.com,
8 August 2004.
86. Simon Wiesenthal Center, Press Release, "Easter Pogrom Hatemongering -
Effigies, Desecration, Caricature: Greek Antisemitism Epidemic Persists,"
20 April 2004.
87. Manfred Gerstenfeld, "The Deep Roots of Anti-Semitism in European
Society," Jewish Political Studies Review, 17, Nos. 1 & 2 (Spring 2005),
88. Robert Fife, "UN Promotes Systematic Hatred of Jews,MP Says," National
Post, 2 April 2002.
89. "Manifestations of Antisemitism in the European Union," drafted for the
European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) by the
Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZFA) at Berlin Technical University,
p. 17, http://eumc.eu.int/eumc/FT.htm.
91. Joel et Dan Kotek, "Au nom de l'antisionisme: L'image des Juifs et d'Israel
dans la caricature depuis la seconde Intifada," Brussels: Editions Complexe,
92. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Joel Kotek, "Major Anti-Semitic
Motifs in Arab Cartoons," Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 21, 1
94. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Zvi Shtauber, in Israel and Europe:
An Expanding Abyss? 188.
95. Wilhelm Heitmeyer, "Texte zu Ergebnissen der Umfrage 2004 des Projektes,"
Universítát Bielefeld, Institut fur interdisziplinare Konflikt- und
Gewaltforschung, 2004 (German).
96. See, e.g., Martin Ulmer, "Current Trends in Germany," lecture at conference
of SICSA in Jerusalem: "Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in Western
Europe since 2000," haGalil.com, 18 December 2002; Susanne Urban,
"Anti-Semitism in Germany Today: Its Roots and Tendencies," Jewish
Political Studies Review, 16, Nos. 3 & 4 (Fall 2005), 119-130.
97. See Manfred Gerstenfeld, "The Deep Roots of Anti-Semitism in European
98. Anti-Defamation League, Press Release, "ADL Survey of Five European
Countries Finds One in Five Holds Strong Anti-Semitic Sentiments:
Majority Believes Canard of Jewish Disloyalty," New York, 31 October
99. Anti-Defamation League, "Attitudes toward Jews in Twelve European
Countries," May 2005.
100. "European Poll: 46% Say Jews Are 'Different,'" Haaretz, 26 January 2004.
101. Stephen Bates, "One in Seven Britons Say Holocaust Is Exaggerated," The
Guardian, 23 January 2004.
102. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Meir Litvak, "The Development of
Arab Anti-Semitism," Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 5, 2 February
103. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Robert Wistrich, Post-Holocaust and
Anti-Semitism, No. 25, 1 October 2004.
104. Melanie Phillips, "The Moral Sickness of the World," melaniephillips.com,
12 November 2004.
105. Personal interview with Yehuda Blum.
106. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Anne Bayefsky, "The United Nations:
Leading Global Purveyor."
107. Claude Meyer, interview with Jean-Claude Milner, Actualité Juive Hebdo,
no. 823, 11 December 2003 (French).
109. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Joel Kotek, "Anti-Zionism in Belgium:
The Country's Civil Religion that Reflects the New Anti-Semitism," Post-
Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 29, 1 February 2005.
110. Norwegian Israel Center against Anti-Semitism, letter to Prime Minister
Kjell Magne Bondevik, "Double Moral and Unreasonable Criticism of
Israel," 17 February 2005.
111. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Yehezkel Dror, "The EU and Israel:
Radically Different Worldviews," in Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss?
112. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Shmuel Trigano, "The European
Union: Continuously Creating Problems for Israel and the Jews," in Israel
and Europe: An Expanding Abyss? 82-83.
113. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Andrei S. Markovits, "European Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism: Similarities and Differences," Post-Holocaust
and Anti-Semitism, No. 16, 1 January 2004.
114. Manfred Gerstenfeld, "The EU Constitutional Crisis, the Middle East, and
Israel," Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol. 4, No. 25, 26 June 2005, www.jcpa.org/
115. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Mark Sofer, "Israel and the New
Accession States of the European Union," in Israel and Europe: An Expanding
116. Efraim Zuroff, "Eastern Europe: Anti-Semitism in the Wake of Holocaust-
Related Issues," Jewish Political Studies Review, 17, Nos. 1 & 2 (Spring
117. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Je.rey Gedmin, "Experiencing European
Anti-Americanism and Anti-Israelism," Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, No. 27, 1 December 2004.
118. Claude Meyer, interview with Jean-Claude Milner, Actualité Juive Hebdo,
No. 823, 11 December 2003 (French).
119. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Dan Segre, "Can Israel Ever Trust
Europe?" in Israel's New Future: Interviews (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center
for Public Affairs, 1994), 60.
121. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Johannes Gerster, "Confronting European-
Israeli Misunderstandings," in Israel and Europe: An Expanding
122. Norwegian Israel Center against Anti-Semitism, letter to Prime Minister
Kjell Magne Bondevik, "Double Moral and Unreasonable Criticism of
Israel," 17 February 2005.
123. Yehezkel Dror, "Foundations for an Israeli Grand Strategy toward the European
Union," Jewish Political Studies Review, 16, Nos. 3 & 4 (Fall 2004),
124. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Zvi Shtauber, in Israel and Europe:
An Expanding Abyss? 191-192.
125. Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Hildegard Müller, in Israel and Europe:
An Expanding Abyss? 44.
DR. MANFRED GERSTENFELD is chairman of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is an international business strategist who has been a consultant to governments, international agencies, and boards of some of the world’s largest corporations. Among his ten books are Europe's Crumbling Myths: The Post-Holocaust Origins of Today's Anti-Semitism (JCPA, Yad Vashem, WJC, 2003); The New Clothing of European Anti-Semitism, co-edited with Shmuel Trigano (Editions Café Noir, 2004, French); and, most recently, Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss? (JCPA and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2005).
The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect
those of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
The above essay appears in the Fall 2005 issue of the Jewish Political Studies Review, the first and only journal dedicated to the study of Jewish political institutions and behavior, Jewish political thought, and Jewish public affairs.
Published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (http://www.jcpa.org/), the JPSR appears twice a year in the form of two double issues, either of a general nature or thematic, with contributors including outstanding scholars from the United States, Israel, and abroad. The hard copy of the Spring 2005 issue will be available in the coming weeks."
From the Editors: Manfred Gerstenfeld and Shmuel Sandler
The Forgotten Narrative: Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries by Avi Beker
European Politics: Double Standards toward Israel by Manfred Gerstenfeld
Annals of Israeli-Albanian Contacts on Establishing Diplomatic Relations by Yosef Govrin
Perspectives - Jomo Kenyatta and Israel by Asher Naim
Assessing the American Jewish Institutional Response to Global Anti-Semitism by Steven Windmueller
The New Muslim Anti-Semitism: Exploring Novel Avenues of Hatred by Raphael Israeli
Arab and Muslim Anti-Semitism in Sweden by Mikael Tossavainen
Kill a Jew - Go to Heaven:
The Perception of the Jew in Palestinian Society by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
Israel in the Australian Media by Tzvi Fleischer
Barbara Tuchman's Comments on Israel by Moshe Yegar
Hidden in Plain Sight: Alexis de Tocqueville's Recognition of the Jewish Origin of the Idea of Equality by Joel Fishman
Perspectives - The Seventh-Century Christian Obsession with the Jews: A Historical Parallel for the Present?
by Rivkah Duker Fishman
Isi Leibler on Tower of Babble: How the United Nations
Has Fueled Global Chaos by Dore Gold
Shalom Freedman on Iran's Nuclear Option: Tehran's Quest
for the Atom Bomb by Al J. Venter
Shalom Freedman on Rabin and Israel's National Security
by Efraim Inbar
Freddy Eytan on The Long Journey to Asia
by Moshe Yegar
Susanne Urban on From Cooperation to Complicity:
Degussa in the Third Reich by Peter Hayes,
and The Nazi Dictatorship and the Deutsche Bank
by Harold James
Joel Fishman on The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People
under Siege by Kenneth Levin
Manfred Gerstenfeld on Rising from the Muck: The New
Anti-Semitism in Europe by Pierre-André
Manfred Gerstenfeld on Les territoires perdus de la
République: Antisémitisme, racisme et sexisme en milieu
scolaire by Emmanuel Brenner
Manfred Gerstenfeld on Holocaust Justice: The Battle for
Restitution in America's Courts by Michael J. Bazyler
Shalom Freedman on Double or Nothing: Jewish Families
and Mixed Marriages by Sylvia Barack Fishman
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