From an article by Isi Leibler, 2/6/09 originally published in the Jerusalem Post:
...the European Union and individual European countries seem poised for what could become the ugliest confrontation with Israel since the creation of the Jewish state.
Crude threats are being conveyed to the Netanyahu government, making it clear that unless it capitulates to a series of demands, relations will be downgraded and boycotts may even be instituted. Unconfirmed rumors are circulating that the US State Department does not object to these European initiatives.
...Coincidentally ...Der Spiegel [has] suggested the Holocaust could not have been implemented so effectively without the enthusiastic support and collaboration of major anti-Semitic sections of the indigenous population under Nazi occupation. It concluded that, to be more precise, the culpability for the Holocaust should be extended to encompass Europe as a whole.
One wonders if Winston Churchill had not become prime minister and the Nazis had conquered England, how the British anti-Semites would have behaved. Would they have behaved differently from their French counterparts? Under Nazi occupation would the British police, bureaucracy and volunteers also have collaborated in deportations and other actions which were a prerequisite for the gas chambers?
This has relevance for our contemporary situation. The ferocity and extraordinary resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe cannot simply be attributed exclusively to the impact of Muslim migrants or rage against Israeli policies. The anti-Israel tsunami which swept across Europe can only be appreciated in the context of the profound traditional hatred of Jews which, we now realize, only went into remission when the horrors of the Holocaust were unveiled. But half a century later it has reemerged with a vengeance, with the Jewish nation state acting as surrogate for anti-Semitism directed against Jews.
How else can one explain why this tiny embattled Jewish state has assumed the role of scapegoat for all the ills of humanity. It is reminiscent of the times when Jews were accused of poisoning the wells, spreading the plague and acting as the sinister force behind capitalism and communism? How else to explain why Israel has been condemned as a rogue state representing a greater threat to peace than North Korea or Iran? How else to explain the application of Holocaust inversion to its treatment of the Palestinians while silence prevails concerning human rights violations and mass murders in countries like Sudan, Sri Lanka or Congo? How else to explain why its legitimate efforts to defend its citizens against terrorists and missiles are blamed for the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and global terrorism?
THESE POISONOUS currents dominate large segments of public opinion in the enlightened Europe of our time. In most cases the people are actually even more hostile to Israel and Jews than their governments. Needless to say, the quality of life for Jews in this environment has undergone a dramatic deterioration. Although some bury their heads in the sand and delude themselves that these conditions are transitory, most Jews are deeply despondent about the future of their children in a society which is beginning to regard them as pariahs.
The current campaign is being spearheaded by the British and the French. Jewish leaders from the French Jewish representative body CRIF, whom I have grown to respect for their courage and willingness to stand up and be counted when confronted by hostile governments, are deeply apprehensive about President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was initially believed to have reversed the traditional anti-Israeli approach of successive French governments since Charles de Gaulle. However, in recent months both the UK and France have intensified their anti-Israel stance and hardly even bother to maintain a pretense of being even-handed.
It is the Italian government, the fourth largest state in the EU, that stands out today as the most notable long standing friend of Israel in Europe. Berlusconi displays genuine warmth when he relates to the Jewish state and takes pride in having been closely associated with Israeli leaders over a long period. At his initiative, Italy utilized its veto power to neutralize some of the more extreme anti-Israel EU initiatives.
Regrettably, like the Germans, Italy still retains strong commercial ties with Iran, but at least this has not deterred it from condemning Iranian policies toward Israel.
...A series of European countries hostile to Israel, starting with Sweden, are about to assume leadership of the EU when the Czechs retire at the end of the month.
In this difficult climate, with the US-Israeli relationship now in question, Israel must try to strengthen its relationship with the European countries willing to offset the anticipated flow of anti-Israeli initiatives.