Why Europe Hates Israel

Two contrasting slogans have characterized the debate over Israeli settlement building vis-à-vis Europe: “Never Again,” and “Tolerance.”

“Never again” is an implicit promise not to let evil triumph. It is perhaps best embodied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose policy prescriptions are substantively built on a firm refusal to cede strategic victory to those who assault Israel’s legitimacy.

“Tolerance,” on the other hand, is a cooperative effort aimed at achieving societal harmony through common decency. Implicit in that understanding is an imbalance of power. When the cooperative effort crumbles, decency can lead to disdain. It’s not hard to see how the tolerance of someone can lead to the tyranny of someone else.

If “never again” operates on an ironclad commitment never to repeat the same fatal mistake twice, “tolerance” contains the innate tendency to double-down on that same ideological failure. That's exactly what happened after World War I, when the nations of Europe tolerated the restoration of Germany’s pride at the expense of themselves and others. In the end, only the unbearable cost of World War II gave pause to that approach.

Today the Europeans are at it again, tolerating Palestinian and Arab violence perpetrated against Israel, the goal of which is to reverse the humiliating defeat of 1948. In both cases, the tolerance of one nation has coincided with the intolerance of another nation: the Jews.

Europe wasn’t always anti-Israel. In 1956 during the Sinai-Suez war, France and the United Kingdom coordinated with Israel, which had -- in an attempt to stop Arab terrorism -- captured the Sinai Peninsula. Britain and France attempted to retake the Suez Canal, which Nasser had nationalized. The United States strongly opposed the campaign, and eventually forced all three countries to withdraw their forces.

Another notable testament to past European-Israeli cooperation is Israel’s nuclear program in Dimona. France undermined the United States by helping Israel build that program.

With time, however, cooperation spiraled into conflict. European support for Israel decreased for two main reasons.

First: arch-terrorist and leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Yasser Arafat succeeded at creating the image of a Palestinian nation that had legitimate national aspirations which were being denied by Israel. Arafat effectively publicized Palestinian grievances, garnered public support, and prompted the international community to focus specifically on Palestinians and not on the broader Israeli-Arab conflict over the Golan Heights or the Sinai Peninsula. He achieved diplomatic gains as well -- in 1974, Arafat was invited to address the United Nations General Assembly. With time, terror has helped the Palestinians gain the trappings of an emergent nation-state.

Second: the influx of large Muslim populations to Europe has affected the composition of Europe internally. Large numbers of Muslims began to migrate to the UK and France after both gave up their colonies in the Muslim world. After 1947, millions of Muslims from the Indian subcontinent began to migrate to the UK. In Tunisia and Morocco in 1956 and in Algeria after 1963, millions of Muslims emigrated from these former French colonies to France. In the 1960s, Germany, in an effort to boost its worker population, brought “guest-worker” Muslims from Turkey to operate their factories.

In all three countries, the vast majority of Muslims did not assimilate as previous generations of Christian and Jewish immigrants had done.