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A European Response

Jordan Times Editorial

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It was with great relief and satisfaction that many in the Arab world yesterday heard the news that a majority of EU citizens consider Israel a major threat to world peace.
London, May 2003. Some of the several hundreds of thousands who demonstrated in support of self-determination in Palestine this summer.
According to a survey commissioned by the European Commission, 59 per cent of Europeans see Israel as more of a threat to peace than Iran, North Korea and the US. The same survey also showed that more than two-thirds of EU citizens (68 per cent) believed the war on Iraq was completely unjustified.

True, as European Commission spokesman Gerassimos Thomas commented when asked about the consequences that these findings could bear on EU foreign policy making: “A poll is a poll, and policy is policy.” But the fact remains that the average European citizen, due to the colonial past of many European countries and their close involvement in the Middle East, is bound to have a clearer understanding of this part of the world than the average, let’s say, North American citizen.

It is also true that the average European citizen, due firstly to geographic proximity, is more likely to seek reliable and comprehensive information on a region so close to his/her backyard or travel and see for himself/herself what happens over here. And what Europeans seem to have understood pretty clearly ? more clearly than some of their leaders ? is that Israeli policies are condemning the Mediterranean area, the Middle East and the international community to instability and underdevelopment.

The survey seems to indicate that the European public has not been fooled by Israel’s powerful propaganda machine, and that, notwithstanding strong anti-Arab and Islamophobic currents, Europeans still regard adherence to international law as a foolproof criteria to assess and grade governments’ behaviours.

Israel’s outrage at the results of the poll was as hypocritical as futile. Europeans have rated the Jewish state below many “rogue states” ? to borrow a term from George W. Bush’s doctrine ? not because they are anti-Semitic, but because they have realised that Israel has been oppressing and repressing in violence and blood the legitimate aspirations of a nation fighting for its right to self-determination and independence.

Officially, Israeli envoys to Brussels and European capitals, as well as right-wing politicians in Israel, yesterday voiced their anger at the poll. Privately, they may have wondered where they failed, how the powerful pro-Zionist propaganda and untiring, meticulous and systematic work of the mighty Jewish lobbies could impact European minds so little.

For fear of being accused of being anti-Israeli, some centre-rightist European politicians swiftly appeared in front of the cameras saying the poll should have not been commissioned in the first place. Like the current Israeli government, they would prefer not to know what people really think of them and their policies.


Published Tuesday, November 4th, 2003 - 05:21am GMT

Article courtesy of the Jordan Times

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