Israel Finds More Sympathy in Europe

[Christian Science Monitor] Robert Marquand - For decades, Europe was a Middle East counterbalance - generally sympathetic to Palestinians as the weaker party. Yet Europe's traditional position has been quietly changing, gravitating closer to a U.S.-Israeli framing of a war on terror, a "clash of civilizations," with a subtext of concern about the rise of Islam. In no small way it is associated with the rise of Muslim populations in Europe. "There is convergence on goals [terrorism] between Europe and the U.S.," argues French intellectual Dominique Moisi. "The Europeans are less pro-Islamic Muslims now than before, after 9/11." European diplomats "don't see Hamas as Palestinian nationals, but as Islamic," says a senior French scholar with extensive Mideast experience. In Europe today, nearly all major leaders - France's Nicolas Sarkozy, Germany's Angela Merkel, Britain's Gordon Brown, and Italy's Silvio Berlusconi - are seen as leaning toward Israel. "There is a general 'Arab fatigue' in Europe," says Denis Bauchard, an adviser to the French Institute for International Relations in Paris. "Europe fears an Islamist threat, whether internal or external, and this has begun to change the overall views on the Israel-Palestine conflict," says Aude Signoles, an expert on Palestinian movements.

2009-01-08 06:00:00

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