In an opinion poll conducted in October, when shown a list of countries
and asked "if in your opinion it presents or not a threat to peace in
the world," some 59 per cent of European Union citizens polled said
that Israel was a danger. The other leading threats to the peace were (in
descending order) Iran, North Korea, and Afghanistan.
"This shocking result... defies logic and is a racist flight of
fantasy that only shows that anti-Semitism is deeply embedded within
European society, more than at any other period since the end of the
war," responded Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal
Centre. Other US-based groups joined the chorus of condemnation, blaming
it all on the ingrained anti-Semitism of 'old Europe'. But the poll
involved 500 randomly selected citizens in each of fifteen EU countries
from Ireland to Greece, from Portugal to Finland.
These are very different countries. Why did an average of 59pc of their
citizens say 'yes', that Israel is a threat to world peace? One possible
explanation is that 59pc of Swedes, Dutch, Spaniards and Italians are
rapidly anti-Semitic, and spend their spare time desecrating Jewish
cemeteries. Another possibility, however, is that they genuinely think
that Israel's present government is a threat to the peace.
If they do, then they are thinking like a lot of Israelis, starting
with the Israeli army's chief of staff, General Moshe Ya'alon. He summoned
senior Israeli journalists to army headquarters a few days ago to tell
them that in his opinion the roadblocks and military lock-downs that keep
Palestinians from travelling between cities and towns in the occupied
territories were just fuelling Palestinian resentment of Israel and
building support for militant groups like Hamas.
General Ya'alon added that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government
undermined the peace process by not supporting former Palestinian prime
minister Abu Mazen, and that the route of the new wall Israel is building
around the West Bank, which cuts deep into occupied territory to keep
Jewish settlements on the 'Israeli side', is storing up trouble for the
future. If the general in charge is driven to talk like that, is it
surprising that Europeans are worried?
But surely Europe is safely distant from all this, isn't it? Not
according to Martin van Creveld, professor of military history at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who has been warning for several years
that the only logical outcome of Prime Minister Sharon's settlement policy
is ethnic cleansing: the military expulsion of Palestinians from the West
Bank. Sharon is confident that the United States under the current
administration would never defy Israel and intervene to stop it, van
Crefeld believes - and if the Europeans thought about intervening, they
could easily be deterred.
"We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can
launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome," says
van Crefeld in the new edition of David Hirst's classic book on the
Arab-Israeli conflict, 'The Gun and the Olive Branch'. "Most European
capitals are targets for our air force. Let me quote General Moshe Dayan:
'Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.' ...Our armed
forces are not the thirtieth strongest in the world, but the second or
third. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can
assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under."
This sort of talk scares the hell out of Europeans. You wouldn't have
got 59pc of European identifying Israel as a threat to world peace ten
years ago, when Yitzhak Rabin was prime minister and the Oslo accords had
just been signed. They have changed their minds in response to changing
There are plenty of sensible, moderate people in Israel, but they are
not in charge at the moment. There are still some old anti-Semites in the
fifteen countries of the EU, and some new ones, too, but the vast majority
of the Europeans who said Israel is a threat to world peace are not
anti-Semitic. They are just scared.
How can we manifest peace on
earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both
sexes) in our vision of Peace?
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