Monday, July 11, 2016

Europe: Israel sparks politicians's fiercest debates... more than security, refugees, the economy

Washington must not determine itself against Israel as Europe has always done, writes Michael Oren @ Newsweek:
"The fiercest arguments we have in parliament are over Israel." These words, spoken by the chairman of the Dutch Foreign Affairs Committee, startled me. But they failed to faze the other committee members from the both the left and right. On the contrary, they all readily agreed. In the end, only I displayed surprise.

"Let me get this straight," I said. "Your country is in economic crisis, tens of thousands of refugees are massing on your borders, and the EU may be unraveling, and yet the issue that most occupies you is…Israel?"

My hosts unanimously nodded. However shocking, the conversation was by no means unusual. As chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee in Israel's Knesset, I frequently meet with European legislators.

Whether Dutch or Belgian or German, they all report the same phenomenon. Israel—more than security, more than refugees, and the economy—sparks their bitterest debates. And each time I hear this, I find myself astonished. At stake, I realize, is not Israel's identity but the Europeans'. For them, the Jewish State is exactly that, a state of Jews against whom the West is once again defining itself. [...]

The same Dutch government that is offering dozens of its national churches for sale is acridly divided over Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.

While grappling with a failed economy and massive security threats, French leaders have time to launch a Middle East peace initiative that Israel rejects.
Addressing the European Parliament this month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas repeated a medieval European libel by accusing Jews of poisoning Palestinian wells. Abbas later apologized, but the Europeans gave him a standing ovation.
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