Europe’s criminal view of Israel

According to a study published in 2011 by the University of Bielefeld, some 150 million Europeans view Israel as satanic.

Anti-Israel protesters 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Anti-Israel protesters 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
According to a study published in 2011 by the University of Bielefeld on behalf of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a political foundation associated with the German Social Democratic Party, some 150 million Europeans view Israel as satanic. Despite these outrageous findings, the report hardly received any attention. The study was undertaken in seven European countries.
The researchers asked people whether they believed Israel was carrying out a war of extermination against the Palestinians. The countries with the lowest percentages of agreement – just below 40 percent – with this statement were Italy and the Netherlands. In England, Germany, Portugal and Hungary the number ranged from 40 to 50%. In Poland, the figure was 63%.
Another study published in 2012, by the Holocaust Center in Norway, posed the question somewhat differently: “Do Israelis behave like Nazis?” Thirty-eight percent of those polled said yes.
The findings of these two studies give much insight into the extreme, malicious views a large number of Europeans have with regard to the Jewish state. They evoke the most severe anti-Semitism of the past two millennia.
In the first centuries of Christianity, the false accusation was launched that Jews had committed deicide, killing the supposed son of God. At that time no greater evil could have been imagined. (Recognizable Jews in some European countries have told me that even today they are accused of killing Jesus).
After the Enlightenment, however, the symbols of absolute evil changed; in strongly nationalistic states, it was often other ethnic groups. In Nazi Germany, this was carried to the extreme: Jews were entirely dehumanized and defined as “subhuman,” “vermin” and “bacteria.”
They again embodied “absolute evil” as it was perceived at the time, leading to the Holocaust.
The image of absolute evil in the Western world changed again after the Second World War, becoming genocide and Nazi-like behavior. The two aforementioned studies show that a very substantial minority of Europeans associate this new symbol with Israel. (The study does not cover all EU countries, yet one may assume that it is representative).
As such, a vast number of Europeans have in fact revived an anti- Semitic mindset dating back to the Middle Ages. There are probably as many Europeans with these profoundly false opinions as there were anti-Semites in Europe before Hitler came to power. This radical view of Israel is still largely latent, yet it does find expression in anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents. However, it could explode in the future, as has happened before.
At least three factors have contributed to the resurgence of this mindset. The first is “delegitimization by a thousand cuts” – the ceaseless, frequent publishing of negative news about Israel, supplemented by lies, false accusations, libel, articles full of bias and prejudice, official condemnations and so on. Television and other media, politicians and ex-politicians, some church leaders, several humanitarian and political NGOs, academics, as well as some Jews and Israelis have all contributed to this.
The second factor is the much reduced attention given to the widespread criminality and hate-mongering in large parts of Palestinian society and many Arabic and Muslim states. If mass murders, terror attacks and other major crimes were highlighted proportionally to the size of the population and misconduct in those countries, news about Israel would be comparatively negligible.
At the same time, European states did not live up to their commitments under the UN Genocide Convention to bring Muslim planners of genocide such as Iran and Hamas, before an international court.
The third element which contributed to the delegitimization of Israel is the downsizing of major evil events in European countries’ own past. In this way a far too rosy picture of European society’s own history is painted, which is then compared with the greatly falsified picture of Israel. The question therefore remains whether only disasters befalling Israel will open people’s eyes, or whether anything else can be done to combat this? The author is a board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (2000-2012). He is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.