Sunday, June 03, 2007

The sins of the fathers

Dr. Josef Joffe is publisher-editor of the German weekly Die Zeit.

To regain moral stature, Europeans have turned anti-Fascism into a worldly doctrine of transcendence, into a secular Decalogue that reads: Thou shalt not pray to the discredited gods of nationalism; thou shalt not practice power politics, thou shalt relinquish sovereignty and rejoice in cooperation. From there, it is but a short step to the darker side of redemption. Don't the Israelis-and the Americans-behave in the evil ways we have transcended? Aren't we better than those who are a grating reminder of our unworthy past?

On Europe's military dependence on the United States.

A high official in the Pentagon recently told me that every French plane that took off in the post-Yugoslav skies had to be accompanied by four American planes. One to go in front to do the defense suppression, electronic warfare. One on each wing for protection. And one on its tail for damage assessment, which the French apparently have no capabilities for.

So here's the reason why the United States, by dint of its incredible conventional technological superiority-at this point at least-is forced to carry most of the burden, as it has in Bosnia and Kosovo, and of course in the Gulf War. It's easy for the Europeans to hang back because they know Big Daddy is there, and Big Daddy is incredibly rich and has technological goodies for which we don't have the money. So that too explains why the United States would trigger so many resentments because of its power, [and because it still] remains a much-needed player in these games.

On the 2006 war against Hizballah.

Morally, it was not exactly a shining moment, given the destruction of civilian infrastructure. But in Europe, there was something relentless, obsessive, and merciless about the criticism. For instance, in a poll taken six days into the war (Der Spiegel, 24 July 2006), almost two-thirds of the German respondents opined that ‘Israel had no right to eliminate the attacks of the radical-Islamic Hizballah'; only 22 percent conceded that right. Does this mean Israel should return to the classic Jewish role as victim? I hope that these figures don't prove that.

On anti-Zionism in Europe.

When one analyzes the basic anti-Zionist thrust of European opinion, one is quickly drawn to Europe's past that will not pass away. Many Europeans, though generations later, may feel a sense of inherited guilt about how their countrymen collaborated in the Holocaust or just stood by. Norway, perhaps the most anti-Israeli country in Western Europe, may have come to terms least with its collaboration. There was a lot more than Quisling. It is also among the fiercest critics of Israel. We might assume a correlation between the two.

It's all worth reading.

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