I have just returned from a couple of weeks in Europe – a continent in distress. The financial crisis is felt in every city in Europe, and may result in default on debt of some of the European countries. It may even lead to the collapse of the EU altogether. Iran’s plans to continue with its nuclear program will soon put Europe in the range of the Iranian nuclear warheads. The rise of extreme Islam in Europe threatens to change the face of Europe and the European culture forever. Many real problems that may threaten the European lifestyle, and yet anti-Israel sentiment is still prevalent.
My question is why? Why is anti-Israel sentiment high on the public agenda in a continent with so many urgent problems? Is Israel really such a risk to Europe, or alternatively, are Israel’s actions so horrific that Europe simply cannot ignore them for moral reasons, and put then high on the agenda, despite the more urgent problems?
Let’s look at some facts. Israel’s birth at 1948 was out of war. Like most other wars it’s controversial, and there are numerous viewpoints and interpretations of the events. Undoubtedly, both sides had their fair share of atrocities. Yet, no other birth of a nation has created such one-sided hatred.
Nowadays the existence of Israel is a fact. None of those who took part in the birth of the country is in a position of power any longer. Most of them are dead. So even those who feel that Israel birth was in sin must admit that most living Israelis had nothing to do with the birth of their country. Yet they are still a target of hatred.
There is no doubt that the Arab-Israeli conflict is ugly. There is no doubt that this has been a horrible war in which both sides have committed many atrocities. But there is also little doubt that either side is the sole responsible. The situation is rather hopeless, and nobody, absolutely nobody, has a solution. Yet, Israel is hated.
The Arab-Israeli conflict is far from being the bloodiest conflict in the world. It’s far from having the worse record of atrocities. Let’s, for example, look at some numbers (all taken from the Historical atlas of 20th century Matthew White):
The total death toll of the Israeli Arab conflict in over 100 years claimed about 60,000 people, out of which 7,000 Arabs were killed in the 40 years of occupation. It’s a horrible number indeed. However, in the same period 83 million people were killed as a result of tyranny and genocide. That is, Israel has been responsible for 0.07% of all such killings. Not so bad considering that the country has been in a war the entire period. Let’s compare it to other countries:
In China 40 million were killed under Mao
In Russia 20 million were killed under Stalin
Sudan conflict has consumed 225,000 lives
Algeria 100,000 (fundamentalist Moslem insurrection only, not including the Algerian war)
Not that these numbers justify the Arab-Israeli war, but one must wonder why the hatred in the European street is focused on Israel rather than on Algeria or Angola, for instance.
How come Israeli scholars are banned from many English academic conferences? Why don’t they ban Burmese, Sudanese or Chinese? And why, when any Muslim decides to detonate a bomb anywhere in the world, let it be London or Bali, calls against Israel are heard?
Is the very same attitude that led the English to blame the Polish when they were first occupied by Hitler? That is blaming the bombers may lead to more religious hatred, and more bombs, while blaming Israel is safe. After all, no bomb, suicide bomber, airplane hijacking by an Israeli has ever taken place?
Or maybe it’s just the same good old anti-semitism under disguise: “we don’t hate Jews any more; it’s Israel that we hate”?