Monday, November 03, 2003

Israel as the Biggest Threat to World Peace?

As sensational a claim as the above headline may seem, it appears to be a widely held belief amongst the European population.

srael has been described as the top threat to world peace, ahead of North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran, by an unpublished European Commission poll of 7,500 Europeans, sparking an international row.

The survey, conducted in October, of 500 people from each of the EU's member nations included a list of 15 countries with the question, 'tell me if in your opinion it presents or not a threat to peace in the world'. Israel was reportedly picked by 59 per cent of those interviewed.

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'This poll is an indication that Europeans have bought in, "hook, line and sinker", to the vilification and demonisation campaign directed against the state of Israel and her supporters by European leaders and media,' said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Centre's founder.

'This shocking result that Israel is the greatest threat to world peace, bigger than North Korea and Iran, defies logic and is a racist flight of fantasy that only shows that anti-semitism is deeply embedded within European society, more then at any other period since the end of the war,' he added.

I find these numbers simply astonishing. This is the sort of thing that makes you wonder how well you really understand the people you think you know; how can 3 in 5 Europeans possibly believe that Israel is the biggest threat to peace in the world?

Even keeping in mind what I've said here in the past about breezily equating criticism of Israel with antisemitism, I must with the greatest reluctance agree with Rabbi Hier's remarks. There is plenty to dislike about Israel's policies, not least being the insistence on the continued expansion of settlements regardless of the state of negotiations, but to buy into the notion that Israel, which has been on the receiving end of Arab aggression throughout its' existence, is a greater danger to peace than Iran or North Korea - that is simply prejudice talking, rather than any sort of considered opinion.