European fascination over Israel: An Orwellian quandry

  • In April 2002, the British media led its European counterparts with sweeping criticisms on Israel’s policy in Jenin, even though far more Israelis were killed than Palestinians. 
  • Ten years later, European student activists tried to “break into Israel“, denouncing Jerusalem’s policies on Palestinians, while ignoring the dozens being slaughtered every month by the Assad regime in Syria.
  • 35 leading British performers have objected to an invitation of an Israeli theatre to perform in London. The protest cites Israel’s policy of “exclusiveness”, although it ignores the proposed Palestinian constitution, which will not allow Jews to live in the new country.
  • Gunter Grass, Germany’ nobel prize laureate, has just launched a stinging attack on Israel in general, specifically targeting the Prime Minister.

Let me try to examine through European eyes why the issue of Israel is so “repellent” to many.

One young Portuguese blogger, Romeu Monteiro, commented that he was taught to loath Israel with the help and through the actions of Palestinian suicide bombers.

“How desperate must someone be to kill themselves like this? How could the Jews go from being oppressed to oppressors? Have they not learned the lessons of History?” I grew up loving the Jewish people but hating Israel.

It was only when Monteiro placed a series of facts against the spin that he realised that balance was missing. After all, how can you possibly justify suicide bombings, which should really be described as an act of homicide.

Nicky Larkin, well-known Irish photographer and film maker, takes a different angle. Writing last week in Ireland’s Independent newspaper, he starts out by saying: “I used to hate Israel. I used to think the Left was always right. Not any more. Now I loathe Palestinian terrorists. Now I see why Israel has to be hard. Now I see the Left can be Right — as in right-wing.”

What happened to Larkin? Like our Portuguese commentator, he found “40 Shades of Grey”. While Israel needs to rethink some of its policies, the supposed Palestinian non-violence proved to be the opposite. He had been taught to hate something that did not exist, and his moral teacher was not practicisng what it preached.

As a side note, it is interesting to observe what happened this week between a group of European student protesters and a unit of the Israeli army. A senior officer was caught by a Palestinian camera operator violently attacking one of the students.

Wrong? Quite possibly. But within 24 hours, pictures had appeared on Facebook showing the “non-violent protesters” in another light. One was seen punching a different officer. A second member of the group possessed a knife. Sic?

Over the past century or so, the left has led many of the key changes in European society, values that we rightly hold precious today. Yet, in the 1930s, the German left originally backed Hitler. For years, the left supported blindly anything that the Soviet Union charged them to do. How often do you hear of thrid world countries supporting the verbal assualt on Israel, while ignoring state actions in Zimbabwe or China or North Korea?

When the Guardian, the New York Times, university academics et al invoke their curses at Israel, the rhetoric of hate reminds of the phrase the “defense of the indefensible”. George Orwell coined it, roughly three years before 1984 was published.

And maybe that is what the Larkins of this world are asking us to remember.

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