European Anti-Semitism and Arab Hostility
by Ovadia Soffer
January, 13 2002
The manifestations of hostility toward Israel and the Jews of Europe, in the form of attacks on Jewish religious institutions and schools in France and other places, raise the question of whether we are witnessing a renewed outburst of anti-Semitism on the continent where the Holocaust took place.
Those who treat this worrying phenomenon lightly attempt to explain away these displays of hostility by saying the Europeans have embraced the Palestinians' effective and unbridled propaganda, which is augmented by wild, systematic incitement against Israel and Jews, particularly through the Arab electronic media. The latter are received throughout Europe and are transmitted from Arab countries, including Egypt, that are generously assisted financially by the US and Europe.
But even the Arab-Palestinian incitement, however efficient it may be, is not enough on its own to foment passions against Israel and the Jews in European countries.
Economic interests and increasing nationalistic aspirations dictate patterns of behavior to the decision makers in not a few European countries, that are characterized by an attempt - sometimes approaching the absurd - to find a balance between Palestinian terrorism and the so-called "repressive Israeli actions in the territories."
In-depth examination of the European media clearly proves that the aspiration toward achieving a "balance" is not confined solely to politicians. It can be seen primarily in the consistent policy of the media to always find fault with Israel, and to explain even the gravest terrorist attacks by referring to the protracted suffering of the Palestinians.
After the massacres in Jerusalem and Haifa last December, the electronic media in most European countries took pains to balance the horrifying spectacles revealed to the viewers by broadcasting extensive reports about the poverty of the Palestinians. Numerous stations rebroadcast reports about Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in order to explain, as it were, the Palestinian terror.
The accepted - and correct - assumption is that the attacks on Jewish institutions in Europe, and particularly in France, are not due to anti-Semitism in the usual sense of the word, but result from acts of incitement among concentrations of Muslim immigrants who are subjected to the influence of unbridled and systematic indoctrination in mosques, and who are not a little influenced by the media that are one-sided and hostile to Israel.
The Americans, the British and, to a certain extent, the Germans, apparently drew the right conclusions from the attacks of September 11. They recognized Israel's right to defend itself and its citizens, in particular after the murderous attacks in Jerusalem and Haifa.
In contrast, the remaining EU countries are divided into those which support the cause of human rights and consequently award virtually unlimited credit to the Palestinian claims against Israel, and those which are incapable of deviating from their traditional and consistent pro-Arab policy, that can be traced back to their long-term colonial background in the Arab countries.
In the diplomatic sphere, it seems that both these groups have recently joined the Americans in an attempt to apply pressure to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to change the terrorist strategy that he has adopted and halt the violence, with the intention of returning to the negotiating track supported by all countries of the European Union.
However, no significant change has occurred to the hostility of the European media toward Israel, and to their readiness to award disproportionate weight to the Palestinians and their claims at Israel's expense.
Is it feasible to correct the distortion? The answer depends on the readiness of the Israeli administration to devote special efforts to Israeli information services in Europe. This means not only the allocation of suitable resources but - and primarily - the readiness and determination to assign to this difficult front skilled personnel who are familiar with the European mentality and way of life and are also willing to defend the policy formulated by the government and the prime minister.
In Israel's political reality, the achievement of such an aim cannot always be guaranteed, even though it is an aim that is considered obvious and is supported by political and diplomatic activities in most well-run countries in the world.
©2001 - Jerusalem Post