Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Cheshvan 5764 - November 5, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
European Antisemitism

Europeans believe that Israel is the greatest threat to world peace. A sample of the population of each of the countries in the European Union was given a list of countries and asked: "Tell me if in your opinion it presents or not a threat to peace in the world."

The survey, known as Flash Eurobarometer 151, was conducted in the middle of October as part of the ongoing public opinion analysis conducted by the European Commission. The list of 15 countries for whom the respondents were asked their opinion as a threat to world peace included: Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, India, Libya, United States, China, Russia, European Union, Israel. (The order was changed each time the question was asked.) The question was the last one asked in a long list that dealt mainly with the war in Iraq and its aftermath. The question about world peace was not considered one of the main issues of the survey.

Israel was identified as a threat to world peace by 59 percent of the respondents. It was followed by Iran, North Korea and the United States who were identified by 53 percent of the respondents as threats to world peace. Following on the list were Iraq (52 percent), Afghanistan (50) and Pakistan (48). After that is a sharp dropoff, as Syria was identified by only 37 percent as a threat. The lowest threat level was the European Union itself, pointed to by only eight percent as a threat to world peace.

EU officials played down the results, saying that the question asked was "misleading" and that they did not expect the results to affect policy. Israel Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom said that the results only reflect Israel's tremendous coverage by the media in Europe. He noted that another poll found that Israel's image among Europeans improved recently. Shalom also suggested that the sentiments were more a desire to appear independent of the United States than being against the Jews.

Other observers noted that the vast majority of the antisemitic incidents in Europe are perpetrated by Moslem immigrants to Europe. Nonetheless, these numbers show that the feelings are at least somewhat shared by many Europeans who are not Moslem.

Some say that Europe turns to the Jews as a traditional scapegoat to escape from its own problems which include negative population growth, burdensome entitlements such as pension obligations, masses of unassimilated immigrants, and a deep resentment of the power of the United States.

But it should not be ignored that the Palestinians are waging a serious campaign to win world sympathy. An IDF spokesman stated that 90 percent of the news pictures from Palestinian areas are taken by Palestinian photographers. A society that collectively approves and supports suicide bombing certainly has no compunction about locating weapons and military activities within noncombatant areas so that civilians will be killed and injured -- and then complaining about Israel's "attacks" on civilians, even though Israel is extremely careful only to target combatants.

Unfortunately, the Israeli Left has also joined the media campaign against Israel. An article written by Labor MK Avraham Burg and widely republished abroad heaped criticism upon Israel, calling its actions immoral.

Some people are shocked and outraged when they encounter these things. We are not.

No doubt it is absurd that the only sovereign state in the world that has active enemies whose declared goal is to destroy it, is considered the greatest threat to world peace, while those enemies and their sponsors (Syria and Saudi Arabia are considered threats by 37 and 36 percent, respectively) have world sympathy.

It is not logic that is driving people's attitude towards Israel, but the traditional antisemitism that has accompanied the people of the Torah throughout history. We must do our best to minimize these feelings, but we know that they will accompany us until the world is full of knowledge of Hashem.

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.