What does Europe want from the Jews?
Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis's Hitlerian rant this week was the latest expression of the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. To an audience which included the Greek ministers of culture and education he asserted that the Jewish nation "is the root of evil. It is full of self-importance and evil stubbornness."
Theodorakis has a long personal history of hating Jews and Israel matched by a long history of support for the PLO – support which led to the PLO's decision to have him compose the Palestinian national anthem. Because of this, the fact that he feels the way he does about Israel and the Jews is no surprise.
What is interesting about Theodorakis's remarks is that they come but a week after we learned that 59 percent of Europeans believe that Israel is the single largest threat to peace in the world. And the publication of the EU poll came but a week after the EU, under French leadership, refused to condemn the anti-Semitic screed uttered by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed at the Islamic Summit Conference where he said that "the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them."
In Israel, Theodorakis's remarks, like the EU poll results have been greeted with red headlines and a shallow public discussion of what Israel has done to cause this rash of Jew hatred. Is our army's treatment of the Palestinians responsible? Are the Israelis who live in Judea, Samaria and Gaza to blame for Europe's steadily rising comfort level with public expressions of anti-Semitism?
Underlying all of this gratuitous and vain soul searching has been another running subtext.
What has Israel done to defend itself against the resurgence of anti-Semitism as a cultural and political force in the West and why have these actions, such as they are, failed so abysmally?
Under the gun of media scrutiny, Israel's public diplomacy gurus launched their breathless defense. Led by Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General for Public Diplomacy Gideon Meir, they whined that they don't have enough money to launch a successful campaign to defend Israel abroad. The decision to close Israeli embassies due to budget cuts also adds to the Foreign Ministry's failure to defend the country and indeed the Jewish people from constant vilification, we were told. And, aside from these tired excuses, the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office found a scapegoat on which to pin their failure.
Danny Seaman, who has headed the Government Press Office for the past three years, was informed Monday night by a reporter that a decision had been made to replace him. Seaman, whose crime has been his staunch and unprejudiced enforcement of Israeli laws towards the foreign press, we are told, is responsible for the biased reporting that characterizes the media coverage of Israel. If he hadn't made foreign news organizations hire Israeli cameramen and if he hadn't ended the policy of accrediting Palestinian journalists, Israel would never be in the mess it is in today.
Of course this is ridiculous, as are all of the Foreign Ministry's excuses for its failure to mount even a modicum of defense for the state in the international media and towards foreign governments.
The real cause of Israel's abject failure to combat anti-Semitism in Europe is our failure to see the big picture. Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe because many members of the European political and intellectual elite believe that vilifying Israel and the Jews advances their interests. And what are these interests that are served by anti-Semitism? They have to do with the enhancement and projection of European power.
How has this been manifested? A month before the September 11th attacks on the US, French policy wonk Dominique Moissy published an article in Foreign Affairs under the title, "The Real Crisis over the Atlantic."
Moissy, an advisor to the French Institute for International Relations and a member of the Trilateral Commission explained that the rift between the US and the EU has to do with how Europe defines its role in the world. Using the example of European rejection of the US's right to use the death penalty, Moissy explained, "Traditional state-centered concerns are no longer as relevant in this age of interdependence. Instead, domestic issues such as the death penalty and abortion have emerged on the foreign policy agenda."
Moissy's argument, at base, was that the US needs to accept European cultural supremacy if it wishes to maintain its Atlantic alliance with a self-confident New Europe. Two and a half years later, after the "New Europe" which Moissy described prevented the US from going to war in Iraq under UN Security Council or NATO aegis, many argue that the EU-US rift that was already apparent before the September 11th attacks has turned into an unbridgeable break.
Undaunted by the split his own government was so responsible for causing, Moissy recently published an article in the International Herald Tribune where he made the case for why Europe is indispensable for America. In his view, America cannot turn its back on Europe because "Europe is America's best protection against its own inner evils – neo-isolationist narcissism and arrogant ignorance of the way others may feel and think."
Moissy also provided a way to mend fences between Europe and the US. The way to rebuild the Atlantic alliance, he argued, was to work together to end Israeli sovereignty. In Moissy's words, "The road to reinvent the West goes through Jerusalem."
Moissy urged that Europeans and Americans work together to force Israelis to accept the European financed Geneva "peace formula" which he claims "is the only way out of the abyss into which the region is falling."
The Geneva initiative calls for the institution of an international regime to include military forces from the EU, UN, US, Russia and indeed, Mahathir's Organization of the Islamic Conference that will take over the role of sovereign from the government of Israel. The international forces will be responsible for settling all disputes between Israel and the Palestinian state and will oversee everything from the security of Jerusalem to the use of airspace and the protection of borders. In short, the Geneva initiative that the EU stands so squarely behind, calls for the end of Jewish sovereignty in Israel and the reinstitution of an international mandate like that of the League of Nations.
It has been evident for years that many European governments view Israel's right to sovereignty as conditional upon our enemies' acceptance of our right to exist. European block voting in favor anti-Israel resolutions in the UN is case in point. So too, data indicating that levels of anti-Semitism in Europe reached an all-time low during the Oslo years are proof of this fact. As long as the PLO said it was okay to recognize Israel, the Europeans went along. The minute that Arafat renewed his call for the destruction of Israel, the Europeans, again, followed his lead.
But the current European hostility towards Israel, that is manifested as much in its policies as in its overt expressions of anti-Semitism is not simply a matter of never fully accepting Israel's right to exist. This conditional European acceptance of Jewish sovereignty is now linked to European aspirations to cultural hegemony over America.
There is a direct connection between Europe's anti-Semitism and its anti-Americanism. European anti-Americanism stems from cultural envy of American independence and power. Europe wants America to accept its cultural superiority and in so doing, hitch US military and financial might to European visions of social engineering and global governance.
itism plays an enormous role in the New Europe's attempt to force the US to adhere to its cultural dictates. If the US can be convinced that Israel is the gravest danger to world peace, as the vast majority of Europeans believe, then the US will effectively abandon its right to make moral distinctions for itself and come to rely on European guidance in its application of its military might.
If Israel, the archetype of the nation state is accepted as a rogue nation, then the US will hardly be able to argue with Europe's self-proclaimed right to interfere in its own internal debates about issues like the death penalty, abortion rights, genetically modified crops or global warming. Europe will have proven its point. According to the European logic, America, after abandoning Israel, will have been brought to cultural heel.
When seen as part of an overall European push for cultural hegemony over the West, the resurgence of anti-Semitism stops being a matter of simple public diplomacy. And our self-indulgence in blaming European anti-Semitism on loyal civil servants or on Jewish settlements is also unmasked as so much self-destructive nonsense.
To be successful, public diplomacy, like traditional diplomacy must be based upon what is actually happening in the real world. Israel has become a European pawn in its power bid to force its norms on America. If we wish to combat European anti-Semitism, we must understand that it has nothing to do with our actions. Rather, the resurgence of Jew-hatred in Europe has to do with the European quest for power.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.