European Misreading of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Finnish Foreign Minister Tuomioja - A Case Study

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Efraim Karsh - * Next year Finland will assume the EU's rotating presidency, making Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja a player in the organization's Middle Eastern policy. Tuomioja's views are representative of a deeper undercurrent in contemporary European criticism of Israel, one that combines factual ignorance and misconceptions about the Arab-Israeli conflict with latent animosity borne out of the Continent's millenarian legacy of anti-Semitism. * There is no "wall" between Israel and the West Bank, but rather a security fence not dissimilar to that existing along the Finnish-Russian border. The security fence actually enhances the Roadmap's chances of success since it envisages the end of Palestinian terrorism as a prerequisite for progress toward peace. * The pan-Arab invasion of the newly proclaimed State of Israel in 1948 had far less to do with winning independence for the indigenous Palestinian population than with the desire of the Arab regimes for territorial aggrandizement. Transjordan's King Abdullah wanted to incorporate substantial parts of mandatory Palestine; Egypt wanted to lay its hands on southern Palestine. Neither Egypt nor Jordan allowed Palestinian self-determination in the parts of Palestine they had occupied. * Islamists inveigh against the Jewish State of Israel not out of concern for a Palestinian right to national self-determination but as part of a holy war to prevent the loss of a part of the "House of Islam." * Islam's war for world mastery is a traditional, indeed venerable, quest, and is far from over. Within this grand scheme, the struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is but a single element, and one whose supposed centrality looms far greater in Western than in Islamic eyes. * The analogy between Zionism and Nazism has never stood the most basic historical test. How many Germans were murdered by Jewish suicide bombers in Berlin's cafes during the 1940s? How many Palestinians were herded like cattle into trains and transported into death camps where they were systematically exterminated in gas chambers? None.

2005-07-12 00:00:00

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