Europeans believe that Israel is the greatest threat to world
peace. A sample of the population of each of the countries in
the European Union was given a list of countries and asked:
"Tell me if in your opinion it presents or not a threat to
peace in the world."
The survey, known as Flash Eurobarometer 151, was conducted
in the middle of October as part of the ongoing public
opinion analysis conducted by the European Commission. The
list of 15 countries for whom the respondents were asked
their opinion as a threat to world peace included:
Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria,
Iran, Pakistan, India, Libya, United States, China, Russia,
European Union, Israel. (The order was changed each time the
question was asked.) The question was the last one asked in a
long list that dealt mainly with the war in Iraq and its
aftermath. The question about world peace was not considered
one of the main issues of the survey.
Israel was identified as a threat to world peace by 59
percent of the respondents. It was followed by Iran, North
Korea and the United States who were identified by 53 percent
of the respondents as threats to world peace. Following on
the list were Iraq (52 percent), Afghanistan (50) and
Pakistan (48). After that is a sharp dropoff, as Syria was
identified by only 37 percent as a threat. The lowest threat
level was the European Union itself, pointed to by only eight
percent as a threat to world peace.
EU officials played down the results, saying that the
question asked was "misleading" and that they did not expect
the results to affect policy. Israel Foreign Minister Sylvan
Shalom said that the results only reflect Israel's tremendous
coverage by the media in Europe. He noted that another poll
found that Israel's image among Europeans improved recently.
Shalom also suggested that the sentiments were more a desire
to appear independent of the United States than being against
Other observers noted that the vast majority of the
antisemitic incidents in Europe are perpetrated by Moslem
immigrants to Europe. Nonetheless, these numbers show that
the feelings are at least somewhat shared by many Europeans
who are not Moslem.
Some say that Europe turns to the Jews as a traditional
scapegoat to escape from its own problems which include
negative population growth, burdensome entitlements such as
pension obligations, masses of unassimilated immigrants, and
a deep resentment of the power of the United States.
But it should not be ignored that the Palestinians are waging
a serious campaign to win world sympathy. An IDF spokesman
stated that 90 percent of the news pictures from Palestinian
areas are taken by Palestinian photographers. A society that
collectively approves and supports suicide bombing certainly
has no compunction about locating weapons and military
activities within noncombatant areas so that civilians will
be killed and injured -- and then complaining about Israel's
"attacks" on civilians, even though Israel is extremely
careful only to target combatants.
Unfortunately, the Israeli Left has also joined the media
campaign against Israel. An article written by Labor MK
Avraham Burg and widely republished abroad heaped criticism
upon Israel, calling its actions immoral.
Some people are shocked and outraged when they encounter
these things. We are not.
No doubt it is absurd that the only sovereign state in the
world that has active enemies whose declared goal is to
destroy it, is considered the greatest threat to world peace,
while those enemies and their sponsors (Syria and Saudi
Arabia are considered threats by 37 and 36 percent,
respectively) have world sympathy.
It is not logic that is driving people's attitude towards
Israel, but the traditional antisemitism that has accompanied
the people of the Torah throughout history. We must do our
best to minimize these feelings, but we know that they will
accompany us until the world is full of knowledge of
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