I was thinking about writing a piece on the reports of a European Commission poll of 7,500 Europeans that says Israel is ‘the greatest threat to world peace’ but British blogger Harry Hatchet has said pretty much what I would have done, and probably much more clearly.
Innocent Israeli civilians have been murdered in discos, bars and restaurants. Schoolkids on buses have been blown up in horrific suicide murders. And yet sympathy for Israel, outside of the US, appears to be at an all-time low.
Why? The easy and convenient answer is that Europe is a continent seething with anti-semites. While there are worrying signs, that is simply not true.
Could it not be the case that the Israelis are simply losing a propaganda war?
It is surely not a hard case to present that the blame for the violence in the Middle East should not put exclusively at the door of Israel. Ordinary Israelis have been victims of the most appalling acts of terrorism.
But that image of the little Palestinian boy being shielded by his father against a wall, the images of bulldozers, of a wall being built, of refugee camps, innocent civilians dying in Israeli raids are all beamed into our homes as well.
When those actions are criticised, the defence we increasingly hear is that criticism of Israel is equal to anti-semitism. That might make those who are criticised feel more justified in their actions but have Sharon’s supporters given up on the idea of winning hearts and minds or even basic politics or PR? Is their only strategy now one of playing to the gallery of the most hawkish anti-Europeans in the Bush administration?
This is all presuming the Israeli hardliners and their friends actually care about winning hearts and minds in Europe and aren’t simply engaged in a political effort to push the EU out of any peace process and leave the US, always less willing to criticise Israel, as the sole partner in any settlement.
As they say, read the whole thing.