Two people wearing Israeli flags are told to leave by a protest organizer during a pro-Palestinian demonstration against Israel's military action in the Gaza Strip.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli discourse about Europe often falls victim to generalizations. The Right claims that Europe is anti-Semitic, that Europe is already lost. The Left claims that we should not engage with European parties from the Right, falsely associating them with fascism. Reality is far more complex: Since the infamous Arab oil embargo after the Yom Kippur war, social leftists have created an unholy coalition with radical Islamists. Although efforts have been made to keep this alliance hidden, or disguised as “support for Palestine” or “legitimate criticism of Israel,” recent events in European parliaments and local city councils clearly show it is alive and well.
First, it goes without saying that there has always been an anti-Semitic base in Europe, historically rooted in religion. According to a 2012 study by the ADL, 21.6 percent of respondents in 10 major European countries – some 60 million people – agree that the Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus. However, when you include attitudes about the Jewish state, you get approximately 45% of respondents in seven European countries agreeing that “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians,” according to a 2011 Bielefeld University study. In addition, in the ADL study already referred to we get 31.5% of respondents in 10 countries choosing “possibly true” of three anti-Semitic stereotypes. It seems that above the basic religiously- motivated anti-Semitism, there must be another factor causing so many Europeans to hold anti-Jewish views. This is where the “unholy coalition” comes into action.
In her great book Eurabia, Bat Ye’Or (Gisele Littman) unveils the beginning of the anti-Israeli propaganda in Europe. Already amid the Yom Kippur War, in October 16, 1973, Arab countries gathered in Kuwait. The decided to raise oil prices by 400% and decrease oil production by 5% per month until Israel retreated to the 1967 borders. In light of these threats, Germany and France panicked. On November 9, nine members of the European Economic Community (ECC) issued a declaration from Brussels of three new principles regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. The most important was the third, which stated that, “The legitimate rights of the Palestinians must be included in any peace agreement in the Middle East.” Basically, The ECC acknowledged the existence and rights of the Palestinians for the first time. This is why to this day, many high-profile European officials claim that “one of the main sources for unrest in the Middle East is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
From then on, we have seen a vast escalation in the ECC’s approach towards Israel.
The ECC was supposed to be an inter-economical group, but the Arab pressure for “Euro-Arabic” dialogue resulted in the ECC taking a stand against Israel. A permanent Secretariat has been established for this dialogue – the EAD, where officials at the level of minister or ambassador sit together with their Arab counterparts. In 1975, the parliamentarian association for Euro-Arabic cooperation (PAEAC), consisting of 200 European MPs and many Arab officials, called on the European governments to recognize the PLO as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinians. More significant, however, was the call for “better media treatment regarding Arab states and immigrants” and “legal conditions regarding the freedom of movement and respect of Muslim immigrants’ basic rights.”
Last week we were informed that the city council of Leicester in the UK has decided to boycott Israeli goods from Judas and Samaria. We have also been informed that an identical boycott has failed in Dudley. Who are the ones behind these decisions? In both cases, Muslim council members from the Labour Party were the ones to suggest the boycott. In Leicester, 51 out of 55 council members are from Labour, and they all voted for the boycott.
In France, we have seen members of the socialist parties from the Left leading the way toward a parliamentarian recognition of Palestine. In Sweden, it was also the socialist leftists. Of course that in Britain it was the Labour Party.
What began as a submission to the Arab embargo has resulted in more than 40 years of non-stop incitement, propaganda and constant condemnation of Israel.
The socialist leftists have always been open to ideas of non-limited immigration, of a post-national world, of the “united in diversity” slogan. They have also never liked the Jews too much, so it was only natural for them to work together with local Muslim communities and the Arab states.
When speaking about Europe, we simply cannot generalize and believe that all anti-Semites are simply born that way. Exposed to decades of malicious and continuous propaganda, it is only natural that more than 40% of Europeans today think Israel is trying to exterminate the Palestinians.
As mentioned before, there is a constant percentage of hatred, but this high level cannot simply be explained by pure anti-Semitism.
As UKIP leader Nigel Farage recently said, “What is fueling the rise of anti-Semitism in UK and across the EU, is that there are many more Muslim voices, some of them are deeply critical of Israel, some of them question Israel’s right to exist.”
Unfortunately, Israel has neglected the European arena for many years. We do not have an equal cooperation system with the pro-Israeli Right in Europe. We have very few organizations that are trying to forge new links with sympathetic European politicians and parties, but it seems that the government does not even want to try. The unholy coalition of the socialist leftists and the radical Islamists must be exposed.
This is the main cause for anti-Semitism in Europe. In most cases, radical Islamists are the ones that physically attack Jews, not local Europeans.
Anti-Semitism is a very serious disease. Instead of giving up on Europe, we must create a coalition of our own and try to cure Europe of it.
The author is a writer and researcher of anti-Semitism and Israel-Europe relations, a student of law and political science at Bar-Ilan University and an intern in the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.