July 27, 2014


I’ve lived in Europe the past dozen years—in Berlin, Prague, and London. When it comes to Israel, Europe’s ways seldom cease to amaze. . . .

Bias against Israel, and Jews, is hardly a rarity across the EU. This is not just about Gaza and it can pop up anywhere.

In late 1990s, the venerable Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung slipped in a story about then British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind. The prestigious German paper reported that “the Jew Rifkind” had ended a Bonn speech by quoting the founder of the Reformation, Martin Luther: “Here I stand. I can do no other.” Huh? “Der Jude Rifkind”? The author of the story explained in defense that readers should know that the Foreign Secretary was quoting a Protestant, even though he was not one. Sigh.

A few years later France’s ambassador to the Court of St. James’s slipped. In an unguarded moment at a London dinner party he referred to the Jewish state as “that shitty little country Israel.” The Qua d’Orsay envoy did not deny making the remark, but did say he found it outrageous that a private observation would find its way into the media. A French Embassy spokesman said at the time the ambassador had “no intention of apologizing.”

A few years later still, when I was head of the Aspen Institute in Berlin, a German foreign ministry official sitting in my office out at the Wannsee—the site, incidentally where the Nazis planned the “Final Solution”—asked me why I, as a non-Jew, would be pro-Israel. More awkwardly, a senior executive at the American Chamber of Commerce in Frankfurt told me in the run up to the Iraq war that it was the Jews who were behind the campaign. Sound nutty? The Berlin daily Tagespiegel ran a major story on Iraq around the same time with a large photo of George W. Bush in the Oval Office, meeting with a delegation of Orthodox Jews from Israel. Mind you, the photo and White House visit had absolutely nothing to do with Iraq but, well, you get the picture.

There are a few things going on here. First, there’s guilt-displacement: If Israel is bad, then the Holocaust seems a bit less so. Second, opposing Israel and Jews gives Europe diplomatic leverage in the Middle East, to the point that one European Parliament member has called it a “proxy war” on America:

European Union Parliament member Ilka Schroeder delivered an address entitled, “The European Union, Israel, and Palestinian Terrorism” at the Center for German Studies of Ben Gurion University on Monday.

“The Europeans,” explained MP Schroeder, “supported the Palestinian Authority with the aim of becoming its main sponsor, and through this, challenge the U.S. and present themselves as the future global power. Therefore, the Al-Aksa Intifada should be understood as a proxy war between Europe and the United States.”

“It is an open secret within the European Parliament that EU aid to the Palestinian Authority has not been spent correctly,” MP Schroeder said during a recent address in New York. “The European Parliament does not intend to verify whether European taxpayers’ money could have been used to finance anti-Semitic murderous attacks. Unfortunately, this fits well with European policy in this area.”

MP Schroeder, a twenty-five-year-old former member of the German Green Party, began her political career protesting the war in Kosovo and denouncing globalization. A year ago, MP Schroeder set her sights on an issue long avoided by members of the radical Left – the diverting of some of the 250 million in annual aid for the Arabs of Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) to corrupt officials and terrorist groups bent on Israel’s destruction.

This doesn’t happen by accident. Related item here. And, of course, here. Then, of course, there’s Europe’s shameful record of anti-semitism over centuries, backstopping everything else.

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