October 19, 2004
The two most terrible countries in the world?By Edward Bernard Glick
Most Europeans, their pontificators and their polls tell us, think that America and Israel are the two most terrible polities on this planet. Not nuclear North Korea. Not near—nuclear Iran. Not the Sudan, which is practicing genocide. Not even Saudi Arabia, which besides exporting oil and terrorists peddles and bankrolls extreme Wahabbism around the world.
What in Heaven's name is happening across the Atlantic pond, especially among the Angry Left, whom Lenin used to call the Useful Idiots? Are they thinking rationally? Or are they just emoting against the current President of the United States and the current Prime Minister of Israel?
Did the Europeans like Americans and Israelis more when former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, at the behest of former President Bill Clinton, offered Palestine Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat some 95 percent of the Israeli—occupied territories, a portion of East Jerusalem for his capital, and the dismantling of most of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip? And were the Europeans at all upset when Arafat rejected Barak's offer and began the present intifada?
The truth is that, except for a very few astute observers like Alexis de Tocqeville, Sir Winston Churchill, Lady Margaret Thatcher, and Alistair Cooke, in his marvelous 'Letters from America' series on BBC, European intellectuals have never understood the United States. Nor have they wanted to. They've always had contempt for us. They have always mocked America's dynamism, openness, diversity, informality, social mobility, and appeal to the huddled masses of the world.
Never mind that the United States saved Europe in two World Wars and that thousands of American soldiers lie buried in its graveyards. But saving Europe when it screws up is what the United States is supposed to do. And damning Americans for saving them is what Europeans are supposed to do, under the French principle that no good deed should go unpunished.
Also, with the exception of Great Britain, Europe cannot forgive history for its having ceded to the New World the Old World's erstwhile cultural, diplomatic, economic, and military dominance. France, in particular, cannot abide the fact that it's no longer a great power. It therefore compensates by tweaking America whenever it can. France exaggerates the importance of its veto on the United Nations Security Council and fantasizes about earlier centuries of real and imagined Gallic glory.
When Europe's elites and their American hangers—on proclaim that the world despises Americans, they are being delusional. Americans are not flocking to foreign consulates, begging for visas, or sneaking across borders and oceans, so that they can live happily in, say, North Korea, China, Pakistan, or the Congo. Rather, it is the other way around. When was the last time Europeans or anyone else saw Floridians rafting to Cuba to live under Fidel Castro, or Californians crossing deserts to work illegally in Mexico?
As for the Islamist terrorists, they have generally ignored Europe, though not completely, as evidenced by the recent attacks in Spain, France, Turkey, and Russia. Until now, their main focus has been on the Great Satan, which, among its many sins, is its refusal to abandon Israel, the Little Satan.
One wonders why the Europeans, who claim to understand everything, cannot comprehend that for Americans September 11 was the Pearl Harbor of World War Three. Are they so mired in their anti—Americanism that they will worry about the Jihadist threat to Western civilization only after a biological, chemical, or nuclear version of September 11 — not in New York or Washington, but in London, Paris, Stockholm, or Brussels?
As for the Europeans' negative attitude toward Israel, here, too, they are being delusional, if not outright anti—Semitic. Of course, anti—Israelism is not a synonym for anti—Semitism. And one can favor the evacuation of every Jewish settlement from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank without being either anti—Israel or anti—Jewish. But what is one to make of Europe's unceasing criticism of Israel's response to terror and to the bloodiest intifada in Israeli history?
Since it is a democracy, Israel cannot resort to the military methods that Arabs have used with much success. For example, in order to save his kingdom, the late King Hussein killed several thousand Palestinians and ousted Yasser Arafat from Jordan in 'Black September' 1970. Hafez al—Assad killed 20,000 Syrians in Hama in 1982. And Saddam Hussein tested poison gasses in 1988 on Iraqi Kurds in Halabjah, killing 5,000, and then employed the gasses against Iran in the Iraq—Iran war of the 1980s. Nevertheless, famous for their double standards, the Europeans saw nothing, heard nothing, and said nothing.
The Europeans are also unwilling and unable to grasp the impact of the Holocaust — which took place on their turf, after all — upon the Israeli psyche and the Jewish soul. They don't understand that after Auschwitz even Israelis with no familial ties to Europe are determined to ensure that the spectacle of Jews being killed and maimed with immunity and impunity will never happen again, especially in the Middle East.
In the days before we in the West could imagine Palestinian children being used as suicide bombers, and their parents praising them for it, the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, herself a mother, used to say that 'we shall have peace with our neighbors only when they begin to love their children more than they hate ours.'
If Europe really wants to help — and I am not sure that it does — let it spend its time and money persuading the Arabs and their coreligionists that a sovereign Palestine living in peace with its infidel neighbor is a far nobler Islamic goal than a vanquished Jewish state would ever be.
If Europe really wants to help, let it acknowledge that even without a Jewish Israel there would still be hostility, dictatorship, cronyism, corruption, and overpopulation in the Middle East; there would still be Arab states without oil resenting Arab states who have oil; there would still be hundreds of thousands of unemployed and underemployed Palestinians; there would still al Qaeda terrorists; and there would still be 1.3 billion Muslims in the world.
If only one percent of Muslims are radical Jihadists, there would be 13 million people, a number equal to the total number of Jews in the world, who are hell bent on terrorizing Unbelievers back to earlier centuries of real and imagined Islamic glory.
And, instead of demonizing America and delegitimizing Israel, if Europe really wants to help, let it join America and Israel in their effort to defeat the Jihadists and bring them and the rest of Islam peacefully and productively into the Twenty—first Century.
Edward Bernard Glick is a professor emeritus of political science at Temple University in Philadelphia.