Over the past week, the leaders of Europe have been tuning their instruments ahead of today's meeting of the Quartet in Washington. The sound has been lousy.
Last Friday, EU leaders met in Copenhagen for a summit on the Middle East in order to blast Israel. Israel, the European ministers alleged, is responsible for Palestinian terrorism because it dares to allow Jews to live in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. By daring to allow Jews to live in these areas, the EU said, Israel "violates international law, inflames an already volatile situation, and reinforces the fear of Palestinians that Israel is not genuinely committed to end the occupation."
The Europeans also excoriated the Bush administration for telling French President Jacques Chirac last Thursday that the Quartet would not issue a final version of its so called "road map" for the establishment of a Palestinian state in its meeting today.
After breaking for the weekend, on Monday, the Europeans were back on the warpath. This time the battle cry emanated from London. There, Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected a request from Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for a meeting to discuss cooperation on fighting terrorism and conceptualizing the said road map. Such a meeting, with a mere foreign minister was beneath Blair's dignity. Blair only meets with heads of state and ultra-leftist opposition party leaders, the Foreign Ministry was told.
At any rate, Blair was otherwise engaged this week. America's closest ally in its war against terrorism was busy debauching himself by hosting the terrorist supplier, cheerleader and enabler; the occupier of Lebanon; the weapons of mass destruction proliferator and human-rights abuser Syrian President Bashar Assad at 10 Downing Street. There, before the television cameras, Blair smiled and said, "it is important to engage with Syria because Syria is going to be an important part of building a peaceful and stable future in the Middle East."
For his part, Assad drew strength from Blair's hospitality. Assad, who last year sat next to the pope and condemned the Jews for murdering Jesus and Muhammad, has never been one to mince words.
Standing next to Blair, the Syrian dictator described the terrorist headquarters he happily houses in Damascus as "press centers." He extolled suicide bombers. He defended his friend Saddam Hussein. He condemned the United States. And of course, he condemned Israel – over and over.
Moreover, Assad used his trip to London to divert any attention the international press corps might have paid to his roundup of Kurdish political activists.
These Kurds, members of the outlawed Yakiti party, had held non-violent demonstrations outside the Syrian parliament building demanding political freedoms early last week. Three days later, Assad's security services started rounding them up in house-to-house arrests.
As if Blair's embrace of this enemy of everything he and his EU colleagues claim to stand for was not enough, Blair took leave of his honored guest to make a speech in Parliament about the Palestinians. There he announced his plan to organize a conference on Palestinian "reforms." To this summit next month he will invite the members of the Quartet, representatives of the Palestinian Authority as well as representatives of the burgeoning democracies of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Together, without Netanyahu, all will discuss how to enact cosmetic reforms that will enable the assembled parties to demand the swift establishment of the State of Palestine.
Where does one begin analyzing this European behavior? Even as the Europeans launched their weekly assault against Israel and their embrace of terrorists, reports that Islamic terrorists have Europe itself in their sites were flowing freely.
On December 8th The New York Times reported on the increasing alarm of European security services over the gathering force and virility of these threats. This week the French announced the arrest of what appears to be an al-Qaida cell whose members were planning a chemical weapons attack on the Paris subway.
But no matter. The Europeans know who the villain in all of this is. The villain of course is Israel.
Assad, who launched the reenactment of the Arab League's economic boycott of Israel last year must have felt right at home in Europe where his call for economic strangulation of Israel has been enthusiastically taken up continent-wide.
The British have distinguished themselves not only for their department stores' recent moves to ban Israeli products from their shelves, or for their quiet governmental ban on weapons sales, but also for their decision to launch an academic boycott of Israel. The day before Assad chatted with Queen Elizabeth while drinking tea and munching on crumpets at Buckingham Palace, the British papers were reporting that this boycott has been extended from the social sciences and humanities to the include a boycott of Israeli scientific research.
In refusing Netanyahu's request for a meeting, Blair may have lost his chance to meet with any top ranking Israeli leader. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after all is under threat of indictment for war crimes in Belgium which has an extradition treaty with Britain, and therefore has to be careful about his European travel plans. For its part, the British Ministry of Justice has refused Israeli requests to set aside the Arab demand to indict Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz for war crimes. Given this state of affairs, there is a likelihood that neither leader be calling on Blair anytime soon.
The irony of the fact that the Europeans, who are prime targets for Islamic terrorism staunchly refuse not only to fight it, but also refuse to accept that Israel is being victimized is breathtaking.
Before leaving London, Assad on Thursday threatened his generous host. Condemning Blair's meek call for Palestinian reforms, Assad proclaimed, "The result of reforms will be destruction."
This mind-boggling impertinence shows exactly where European Middle East policy is leading. By mindlessly asserting that Jewish towns in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the greatest obstacles to peace in the region, the Europeans simply whet the terrorists' appetite for destruction. The disingenuousness of the European claim that these towns, whose establishment and expansion is not even discussed, let alone proscribed, in the Oslo agreements are illegal or equivalent to the murder of Israelis by Palestinian terrorists is as appalling as it is destructive to the fight against terrorism.
And we must not forget that when at Camp David Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians a deal that would include the evacuation of almost all of these "obstacles to peace" and the deportation of their Jewish residents into the shrunken State of Israel, Arafat responded by going to war.
Finally, it flies in the face of all the liberal values and international humanitarian laws that the Europeans so loudly espouse, that these enlightened leaders could demand the ethnic cleansing of Judea, Samaria and Gaza of Jews as a precondition not only for Palestinian statehood but also for the end of Palestinian terrorism.
Our prime minister tells us that we needn't worry about the European antagonism because at the end of the day, Washington, not Brussels, calls the shots. This would be comforting if it were not the case that the forces in Washington that call the shots are those who are most aligned with Europe.
Far from condemning Europe for its anti-Israel policies, the State Department under Colin Powell has embraced much of the European Middle East platform as its own. In his address at the Herzliya Conference earlier this month, US ambassador Dan Kurtzer warmly embraced the so-called Saudi peace plan which calls for the right of return of Palestinian refugees as &q
uot;an encouraging sign."
While Kurtzer was stronger in condemning terrorism than his European cohorts, he minced no words in describing his view of the Israeli towns in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. "Terrorism, like settlements, must stop," Kurtzer said.
Kurtzer extolled the so-called road map that will be discussed in Washington today. In his own address before the same conference, Sharon tried desperately to force the State Department to lay off the road map which, the Prime Minister intimated is nothing but a sick mutation of President Bush's call for actual democratization of the Palestinian Authority as a precondition for statehood.
Many in Jerusalem have taken heart from the appointment of Elliott Abrams as the director of the Middle East desk at the National Security Council. Washington insiders however point to the fact that Flynt Leverett, the NSC's point man for the "peace process" is a State Department appointment. Leverett, a former CIA officer came to Israel with Undersecretary of State William Burns last month to discuss the road map. At the time, his participation in the delegation was seen as a sign to the Prime Minister that contrary to what he would like to believe, the White House is very much on board with the road map.
To placate European rancor over the Bush administration's decision to postpone publishing the road map until after next month's general elections, Colin Powell arranged for the Quartet members to meet with President Bush today. For its part, the World Bank kicked into State's European appeasement drive by announcing this week that it will be giving the PA $40 million in short order to pay the salaries of its employees. All of this was apparently deemed necessary in order for the State Department to win a one month delay in the publishing of road map that represents nothing more than the total repudiation of President Bush's Middle East policy.
Rather than demanding actual Palestinian reform and cessation of terror, the Orwellian road map calls for the Palestinians to regurgitate past statements to the effect that terrorism is a bad thing and declare that they plan to reform. In exchange, Israel will have to ban all Jewish construction activities in Jewish towns in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and withdraw IDF forces from Palestinian areas so that the Palestinians can think about making additional statements to the effect that they intend to reform themselves and stop murdering Israelis.
What we learn from this situation is that we are in very big trouble. The Europeans have cast their lots with the enemies of all they proclaim themselves to represent. As President Bush prepares for war in Iraq, he has allowed the State Department, whose head opposes Bush's vision, to take full control of the Israeli-Palestinian agenda. All that Prime Minister Sharon has managed to win for us is a one-month respite before we begin our descent down the European road. Fasten your seatbelts, we are in for a very bumpy ride.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.