Why Europe Hates Israel
By Bret Stephens, an editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe.
Wall Street Journal 2001-1-29

a Belgian court heard arguments from lawyers representing 23 Palestinians, survivors of the 1982 Sabra and Chatilla massacres near Beirut, that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon should be prosecuted in Belgium for crimes against humanity.

More than a half-century after the Holocaust, a Europe awakened to the importance of human rights is looking to sanction the leader of the world's only Jewish state for a crime that was actually committed by a Christian Lebanese militiaman, later employed by the Syrian regime of Hafez Assad. And yet blame for the massacres seems to be apportioned to Mr. Sharon alone. Why?

The short answer is the Belgian legal system, whose well-meaning laws lend themselves to this sort of opportunistic and sensational indictment. A slightly longer answer is that many Europeans are sincerely convinced that Mr. Sharon really is a war criminal, as a BBC documentary attempted to show last summer.

But the real answer is that European governments today are, by and large, tacit enemies of the state of Israel, much as they might protest that they merely take a more "evenhanded" approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

That Europe today should be hostile to Israel may seem a bit of a mystery, not least given the usual sympathy of aims between democratic states. The explanation comes in several parts. First, as historian Howard Sacher points out, Europe's left sees in Israel's political evolution a betrayal of its utopian ideals. It's easy to forget that in the years following the establishment of Israel, many Europeans looked to it as a model socialist country. They admired its largely state-run economy and especially its collectivist kibbutzim. Hundreds of young European leftists, most of them non-Jews, flocked to these farms in the 1960s, looking for the kind of workers' paradise they could not find on the other side of the Berlin Wall.

This fondness, however, evaporated after the 1967 war, when Israel went from being the Middle East's underdog to its Goliath, holding a colonial-like mandate over the lands that came into its possession. Partly under the sway of Soviet propaganda, partly in keeping with the fashion of radical chic, European leftists abruptly transferred their allegiances to the Palestinians and the PLO, which in the 1970s drew the likes of current German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to their meetings. Meanwhile, successive Israeli governments veered to the right. "The era when Yitzhak Rabin or Golda Meir could address their European counterparts as 'comrades' at gatherings of the Socialist International had passed," says Mr. Sacher.

Full text

More about EU and EMU - More about the Talibans and all that