'Fates of Europe, Israel connected'

EP member: The same forces that hate Israel also hate Europe.

hannu takkula 88 (photo credit: )
hannu takkula 88
(photo credit: )
European Parliament member Hannu Takkula of Finland has urged Europeans to prevent the visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Germany for the opening of the World Cup in June. In a reference to the Iranian nuclear threat, Takkula, who was speaking at a Europe Day event on Tuesday night said that never before had the fate of Israel and Europe been so inter-connected. "The same forces that hate Israel, also hate Europe," he said, adding that Europe must remain true to its Judeo-Christian roots by supporting Israel. The heritage of the European Union was founded on three cities - Athens, Rome and Jerusalem - said Takkula, who conceded that not everyone in the European Parliament shared his enthusiasm about Israel's capital, as illustrated by the absence of any European embassy in Jerusalem. Comparing what is happening in the world today with events of the 1930s and 40s, Takkula noted that it was significant that European leaders agree that there is no other solution than peace and cooperation. In a sense, he said, it could be said that the EU grew out of the Holocaust. "One would have thought that events of the Second World War would have taught us lessons for centuries," he said, commenting that today's threats contain the same disturbing rhetoric as those of the 1930s. Attempts to destroy the Jewish state "are nothing more than the same old anti-Semitism," he said. Takkula said Europe bore some responsibility for Hamas's win in the Palestinian elections. Had Europeans not been so keen to support the previous corrupt government and had, instead, imposed stricter requirements about the use of funds, the situation might be different today, he said. He applauded France for playing a crucial role in preventing members of Hamas from entering the Council of Europe and taking part in the debate. Takkula also had praise for German Chancellor Angela Merkel for taking a firm stand with regard to Iran. "The Iranian president is clearly denounced by European leaders," he said. The Europe Day event was hosted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) on behalf of the European Coalition for Israel. ICEJ Executive Director Malcolm Hedding, cognizant of voices within the European Union that are trying to make a distinction between the Hamas government and the Palestinian people, insisted that the EU should not differentiate between people and governments. "Otherwise, what is democracy?" he asked. "At the end of the day, people have to be responsible for the people they put in power." Moscow-born Israel Beiteinu MK Yuri Shtern, who chairs the Christian Allies Caucus, noted that until 2003, there was no officially registered pro-Israel group in any European Institution. As a native Russian he said, to him May 9, was not so much Europe Day as VE Day, which is celebrated on May 9 in the Soviet Union and countries of the former Soviet Union. Shtern shared the concern of his Christian colleagues that the message of history was being largely ignored. "When you read history, everything is so clear," he said. "You can make an immediate forecast about what would happen, because it did happen. Why could they not see it?" Looking around today, he continued, one could see the same phenomenon not only in Israel and in Europe, but in many other countries. One of the reasons that Hitler and his cohorts had been able to succeed for so long said Shtern, was because they used anti-Semitism as a tool in promoting German foreign policy. They appealed to the anti-Semitic sentiments of the European masses and European leaders, and in this way were able to disarm them and to take over Europe. "The challenge for Europe now is exactly the same," asserted Shtern. "Just as Europe was destroyed by anti-Semitism, it may be destroyed again, by anti-Zionism."