Monday, January 31, 2005

# Posted 1:15 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

PLEASE HELP ME CONFIRM MY PREJUDICES: I didn't have high expectations for this essay in the WaPo entitled "In Europe, An Unhealthy Fixation on Israel." I figured it would provide some low-grade indications of European anti-Semitism that would further close my mind to the possibility that Europeans have valid opinions about the Arab-Israeli conflict.

But I wasn't ready for this:
A poll of 3,000 people published last month by Germany's University of Bielefeld showed more than 50 percent of respondents equating Israel's policies toward the Palestinians with Nazi treatment of the Jews. Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed specifically believed that Israel is waging a "war of extermination" against the Palestinian people.

Germany is not alone in these shocking sentiments. They have been expressed elsewhere, and often by prominent figures. In 2002, the Portuguese Nobel Prize-winning writer Jose Saramago declared, "What is happening in Palestine is a crime which we can put on the same plane as what happened at Auschwitz." In Israel just last month, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, the Irish winner of the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize, compared the country's suspected nuclear weapons to Auschwitz, calling them "gas chambers perfected."

Moreover, in a Eurobarometer poll by the European Union in November 2003, a majority of Europeans named Israel as the greatest threat to world peace. Overall, 59 percent of Europeans put Israel in the top spot, ahead of such countries as Iran and North Korea. In the Netherlands, that figure rose to 74 percent...

BBC poll of 4,000 people taken late last year, in the run-up to Holocaust Remembrance Day last Thursday, showed that, amazingly, 45 percent of all Britons and 60 percent of those under 35 years of age had never heard of Auschwitz -- the Nazi death camp in southern Poland where about 1.5 million Jews were murdered during World War II...

The Eurobarometer survey quoted above also showed 40 percent of respondents across Europe believing that Jews had a "particular relationship to money," with more than a third expressing concern that Jews were "playing the victim because of the Holocaust."
What the hell is going on here? You hear a lot about how ignorant Americans are, how 50% of us still believe that Saddam was responsible for 9/11. Next thing you know, 50% of Europeans will believe that the Mossad was responsible for 9/11.

UPDATE: 'Zap' has put a lot of effort into answering my question about European anti-Semitism, i.e. What the hell is going on here?
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