At the Balfour Declaration centenary conference convened by JCPA Tuesday, February 28, there was a particularly interesting juxtaposition during the first panel between remarks by Colonel Richard Kemp and Professor Julius Schoeps.
(NB: the videos of the talks will only be up next week. I will link when possible and make any amendments to this post that a second hearing might impose. Thanks to Richard Kemp for sending me a copy of his remarks; for his further thoughts see “Balfour Declaration, November 2016)
In his talk, “Israel as a Strategic Asset to Britain”, Richard Kemp drew a striking contrast between two European attitudes towards Israel. On the one hand, there are those who see her as a remarkably successful loyal ally, crucial not only to Montgomery in 1940s, but even more today in the 21st century. On the other, there are those who repeatedly sacrifice Israel’s interests and side against her. His illustrative example concerns Italian Admiral Giampaolo Di Paolo, the Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, who:
In 2009… visited Israel to study IDF tactics to apply to NATO operations in Afghanistan. He was particularly interested in Israeli tactics for fighting terror in civilian-populated areas. This visit came just weeks after the publication of the infamous Goldstone Report – which alleged that Israel had committed war crimes by deliberately targeting civilians in Gaza.
The contrast was striking: within weeks of the European Parliament endorsing the report, the European Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee was visiting Israel, for the third time in four years, to study ethical methods for dealing with terrorist insurgencies without causing undue harm to civilians.
Apparently the Europeans find scolding Israel nearly irresistible, even though they know their criticism is not only untrue… but, it’s the opposite. Israel behaves better than even other Western armies; a fortiori than the jihadis they fight, whose cannibalistic strategies create civilian casualties among their own people.
Let’s call it (European) schizoid dissonance: holding two diametrically and significantly contradictory notions in one’s empirical and moral discourse at the same time. On the one hand, the (European) cultural elite – journalists, critics, public intellectuals, researchers, NGOs –conduct a conversation in which despising Israel holds an important place, in which they have flipped the symbol and insist on seeing an Israeli Goliath bullying a hapless Palestinian David. On the other hand, the military, the security people, the grown ups in charge, ask the Israelis to teach them how to limit casualties when the enemy uses civilians as shields and how to enhance their security. And that schizoid dissonance seems to hold more or less for all European countries. (...)
Which brings us possibly back to Kemp’s explanation for this schizoid condition.
Why do European countries exploit Israel’s capabilities with one hand and stab her in the back with the other?
he asked and paused. I was wondering which of the standard explanations he’ll highlight. Jew-baiting? Underdogma? Realpolitik?
For me, the most surprising and welcome single word of the day. Kemp reads the continuing pro-Palestinian position of the European cultural elite [increasingly dominant when least appropriate, after 2000], as a way to placate Muslim populations abroad and at home: Arab nations, European Muslims whose “Street” they fear, and whose votes they want, and the Jihadis who, as we see again and again, can get very nasty with those who offend them, however slightly. So rather than go after the real villains who threaten not only Israel, but Europe, they prefer to wage a war of a million cuts against Israel, even as they profess their (former) admiration for her.read more