Madame Tussauds to remove Arafat making “V” for victory sign (& a Spanish MP speaks out for Israel)

December 04, 2002

* At museum, Palestinian terror leader appears beside Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana
* Former Spanish Leftist MP Pilar Rahola: "Judeophobia explains the pro-Palestinian hysteria of the European Left"

 

CONTENTS

1. Calls for Arafat poster to be removed immediately
2. Turkish president welcomes Jews
3. "Spain sheltering Palestinian terrorists"
4. "Europe cannot be explained without its Jewish soul, but it is also explained by its hatred of the Jews"
5. "Madame Tussauds to remove Arafat poster" (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 3, 2002)
6. "Among the Europeans: Living in two different worlds" (National Review, Nov. 21, 2002)
7. "Sezer salutes Hanukah" (Ankara Turkish Daily News, Nov. 30, 2002)
8. "Katsav hosts traditional Ramadan feast for Israeli Arab leaders" (Jerusalem Post)
9. "EU offers to remove Hamas from terror list" (World Tribune, Nov. 28, 2002)
10. "British Jews urge inquiry to examine charges EU funds terrorism" (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 2, 2002)
11. "Nokdim women demand court extradite known terrorists from Spain to Israel" (Israel radio, Dec. 3, 2002)
12. "Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi wins Swedish Palme Prize" (AP)
13. "Judeophobia explains the Pro-Palestinian hysteria of the European Left"


CALLS FOR ARAFAT POSTER TO BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach a series of articles relating to European countries and the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, with a summary first for those who don't have time to read them in full. (I have placed the interview with the Spanish politician Pilar Rahola last, because it is longest, but I would recommend reading it.)

1. "Madame Tussauds to remove Arafat poster" (The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 3, 2002). A poster depicting Yasser Arafat making a Churchill-style "V" for victory sign is to be removed at the end of the year from Madame Tussauds, the famous London waxworks museum. Some are calling for the Arafat poster, which appears beside posters of Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana, to be removed immediately.

2. "Among the Europeans: Living in two different worlds" (The National Review, Nov. 21, 2002). Benny Irdi Nirenstein, an Italian student who grew up in Israel, and recently returned to Italy, writes "I never thought Italians who suffered so horribly during war and dictatorship would ever again find terrorism acceptable. But increasingly they do." West Europeans are living in a different world than Israelis, Americans, Russians, Indians and others. He writes: "Jacques Chirac, for example, unabashedly honors Hizbullah's Sheikh Nasrallah, the same man who last month suggested that he would welcome the return of all Jews to Israel 'to save the trouble of hunting them down later'."

He adds: "European arrogance has grown so great that even the most-ignorant student emerging with a failing grade feels justified in mocking the president of the United States... I don't know whether the gap between Europe and America has ever been so great... Europeans believe Americans to be racist, while they themselves are culturally tolerant... They see no irony in the fact that it is the United States that is standing with Iraqis and Iranians against murderous dictators, while the European Union seeks to expand its business ties to Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They do not see any problem with Mary Robinson's legitimization of suicide bombings, nor the European Union's subsidization of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade... Europe must awake from its sleep if it wants to play a relevant role in the world's future balance."

TURKISH PRESIDENT WELCOMES JEWS

3. "Sezer salutes Hanukah" (Ankara Turkish Daily News, Nov. 30). The new Islamic President of Turkey Ahmet Necdet Sezer shows that there is nothing automatic about Moslem leaders hating Jews, and indeed that some Moslem European countries are more friendly to Jews than Christian ones.

4. "Katsav hosts traditional Ramadan feast for Israeli Arab leaders" (Jerusalem Post). Israeli President Moshe Katsav hosted some 70 Israeli Arab leaders, including MKs, mayors, and heads of local councils, at an Id al-Fitr feast last Sunday after sunset, when Muslims break their Ramadan fast. (An example of how Israel, in contrast to many Arab states, continues to reach out to those from different religions TG).

5. "EU offers to remove Hamas from terror list" (World Tribune, November 28, 2002). In the latest example of its appeasement, the European Union has offered to remove Hamas from a list of organizations deemed as terrorist if Hamas suspends suicide missions against Israel. (No mention is made by EU of all the non-suicidal terror attacks Hamas continues to carry out against civilians.)

6. "British Jews urge inquiry to examine charges EU funds terrorism" (The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 2, 2002). So far, more than 100 European parliamentarians in Brussels have signed a petition demanding the European Union set up a committee of inquiry into allegations that millions of euros of its aid money is being used to fund Palestinian terrorism. 157 signatures are required. EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten, a long time supporter of the Palestinian Authority, continues to strongly oppose any inquiry. (One wonders why.)

“SPAIN SHELTERING PALESTINIAN TERRORISTS”

7. "Nokdim women demand court extradite known terrorists from Spain to Israel" (Israel radio, Dec. 3, 2002). Two women from the Jewish community of Nokdim in Samaria, whose relatives were killed in terror attacks, are demanding that the Israeli High Court request the extradition of the murderers to Israel, from Spain, where they are being sheltered.

8. "Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi wins Swedish Palme Prize" (Associated Press). Hanan Ashrawi has been given US$50,000 "for her work for Palestinian independence and openness." Ashrawi [who has implicitly and explicitly supported terrorism] was called "an inspiring symbol of a new, democratic, peaceful Middle East." The Palme Prize, which includes a diploma, is awarded for an outstanding achievement chosen by the Fund's board. Previous winners include Czech President Vaclav Havel and Amnesty International.

“EUROPE CANNOT BE EXPLAINED WITHOUT ITS JEWISH SOUL, BUT IT IS ALSO EXPLAINED BY ITS HATRED OF THE JEWS”

9. "Judeophobia explains the Pro-Palestinian hysteria of the European Left" Interview with Pilar Rahola, Former Member of Parliament of the Spanish Republican Left, in the French publication, Proche-orient. (Translated from the French). Pilar Rahola, a prominent Spanish feminist, becomes the latest European leftist, to denounce her fellow leftists for their anti-Semitism. She has also decided "to step forward to denounce the flagrant imbalance in the handling of information [in the Spanish and international media] from the Middle East".

Her most recent piece, "In Favor of Israel," is to be published in a book in which fifteen other Spanish intellectuals, including Jon Juaristi, president of the Cervantes Institute, and Gabriel Alviac, a well-known journalist with the Spanish daily "El Mundo", seek "to reestablish the facts".

She says: "Europe cannot be explained without its Jewish soul, but it is also explained by its hatred of the Jews. Thus, all the repeated attempts of Europe to get rid of its Jewish soul are, in fact, a kind of suicide ... There is a kind of madness that excuses all the crimes, abuses, and errors of the Palestinian side, and, at the same time, there is an historical predisposition that condemns any single error of the Israeli side and this to the point where the Palestinian victims are given maximum attention and the Israeli (victims) are ignored. It is as if the Jewish victims didn't exist, on the pretext that they were responsible for their own death."

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLES

MADAME TUSSAUDS TO REMOVE ARAFAT POSTER

Madame Tussauds to remove Arafat poster
By Douglas Davis
The Jerusalem Post
December 3, 2002

A poster depicting Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat making a Churchill-tyle "V" for victory sign is to be removed from display at Madame Tussauds, the famous London waxworks tourist attraction.

The Arafat poster, which will be removed at the end of the month, appears beside posters of Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana.

The decision followed a number of complaints, including one from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which pointed out that Arafat is "a known supporter and instigator of terrorism."

In a letter to Madame Tussauds, the board's public affairs director Fiona Macaualy said she could see little reason why the poster should not be removed immediately.

"I understand that you consider Yasser Arafat to be newsworthy but I doubt that it would be considered socially acceptable to advertise other such terrorists and criminals such as Osama bin Laden or Myra Hindley [a notorious British child murderer who died last month]."

 

AMONG THE EUROPEANS: LIVING IN TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS

Among the Europeans: Living in two different worlds.
By Benny Irdi Nirenstein
The National Review
November 21, 2002

Last week in Florence, 300,000 Europeans many waving Palestinian flags and sporting t-shirt images of Che Guevara, Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tong marched to denounce the possibility that the United States will liberate the Iraqi people. In the upside-down world of these European demonstrators, democracies are to be condemned and dictatorships coddled.

Being an Italian who grew up in Israel, I'm increasingly caught in between two very different worlds. Half my friends now serve in the Israeli army, a veritable melting pot of rich and poor, black and white. For my other friends, danger is avoiding a hangover after a late night of partying in Rome.

I returned to Italy recently. What I find is frightening. Europeans no longer take for granted principles I came to understand in Israel. I assumed that anyone growing up in a democracy would understand that democracies are always superior to dictatorships. I never thought Italians who suffered so horribly during war and dictatorship would ever again find terrorism the deliberate slaughter of civilians for political gain acceptable. But increasingly they do.

I can no longer speak about the importance of freedom, liberty, and democracy in Italy without attracting the condescending sneers of a generation schooled by Europe's media, statesmen, and left-wing intelligentsia to look beyond such "simplistic" concepts.

To my European classmates, any suggestion that there is a connection between Islam and terror even as self-identified Islamic groups slaughter schoolchildren in Israel, tourists in Egypt, and revelers at a Bali nightclub is more racist than Islamists' targeting of civilians because of their religion. European politicians, Jacques Chirac, for example, unabashedly honors Hizbullah's Sheikh Nasrallah, the same man who last month suggested that he would welcome the return of all Jews to Israel "to save the trouble of hunting them down later."

In Italian classrooms, political ethics are reversed. Terrorism is justified, but defense of democracy is not. Military campaigns are roundly condemned, even though it was the military and not political appeasement that freed Western Europe from the worst tyranny. For many Italian students, professors, journalists, and politicians, there can be no justification for war. When the Baath party seized power in a coup, Saddam Hussein purged hundreds of political competitors. But to a new generation of Europeans schooled by Sixties radicals and liberal elites, Saddam is a legitimate nationalist leader and masterful tactician, while President George Bush, leader of the world's strongest democracy, is simply dismissed as stupid.

European arrogance has grown so great that even the most-ignorant student emerging with a failing grade feels justified in mocking the president of the United States. No countervailing arguments are needed to address those who understand the necessity of war, the right of self-defense, or the fragility of liberty in the face of tyranny.

I don't know whether the gap between Europe and America has ever been so great. No one I know identifies himself as pro-American. Despite recent waves of anti-Semitic and racist violence, and Le Pen's strong showing in the French elections, Europeans believe Americans to be racist, while they themselves are culturally tolerant. Europeans believe themselves to be empathetic while Americans are merciless and ruthless. They see no irony in the fact that it is the United States that is standing with Iraqis and Iranians against murderous dictators, while the European Union seeks to expand its business ties to Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They do not see any problem with Mary Robinson's legitimization of suicide bombings, nor the European Union's subsidization of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. For my European teachers, Saddam is more a representative of a different culture than a dictator set on accumulating weapons of mass destruction.

In many ways, the widening ideological gulf between Western European countries like Italy and the United States is due to the deep ideological mark of communism. Eastern Europe suffered under Communism and knows the evil of Leftism gone awry. In Italy, Communism has never fallen out of vogue. Under U.S. military protection, successive generations of young Italians have grown up unable to conceive of what tyranny actually means while taking liberty for granted. They demonize power and believe that the underdog must always be right. Accordingly, in the Middle East, Israel's military prowess makes the Jewish state worthy of contempt, and proponents of the slaughter of Israelis and Jews worthy of honor. More broadly, the power of the United States makes America public-enemy number one. Thus, American efforts to feed Muslims in Somalia, or liberate Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo are ignored. Despite the sacrifice of American lives for freedom in Korea, Grenada, Kuwait, and Haiti, they believe Washington is just cynically seeking control of Iraq's oil.

The inability of Europe to truly separate religion from state compounds the problem. No Italian politician can afford to ignore the Catholic Church. British politicians still look toward the Church of England for their moral guidance. When religion and politics mix, it can breed two extremist outcomes: One of fundamentalism as afflicts the Islamic world, and the other of irresponsible pacifism that now afflicts Europe, with an effect equally dangerous. Europe is now facing a devaluation of the same fundamental values that allowed it for more than 300 years be the world's most-prosperous and powerful region. The cultural relativism that increasingly reigns supreme in Europe serves as a powerful justification for treating as allies and equals the most corrupted and anti-democratic regimes on the globe. Terror becomes as legitimate as the decisions of a democratically elected government. Europe must awake from its sleep if it wants to play a relevant role in the world's future balance, and it does.

The question I ask myself when I am studying in Rome is whether my European friends must see terror with their own eyes before it can stop wondering "why these crazy Americans are going to war?"

Benny Irdi Nirenstein is completing a political-science degree at Luiss University.

 

TURKISH PRESIDENT SALUTES HANUKAH

Sezer salutes Hanukah
Ankara Turkish Daily News
November 30, 2002

President Ahmet Necdet Sezer saluted the Hanukah feast of Turkish Jews. In a written statement Sezer pointed out that Muslim and Jewish holidays take place coincidentally at the same time. "This gives us great happiness. In days we are all focused on purification, making peace with each other and promoting human values, we hope to reach peace in Middle East," he declared.

Sezer wished the holiday to bring peace and order to Turkish citizens and the Jewish world.

Hanukah, the Hebrew word meaning dedication, is celebrated for eight days in the Hebrew month of Kislev, which usually occurs in mid to late December.

 

KATSAV HOSTS TRADITIONAL RAMADAN FEAST FOR ISRAELI ARAB LEADERS

Katsav hosts traditional Ramadan feast for Israeli Arab leaders
by Greer Fay Cashman
Jerusalem Post

President Moshe Katsav hosted some 70 Israeli Arab leaders, including MKs, mayors, and heads of local councils, at a Id al-Fitr feast on Sunday after sunset, when Muslims break their Ramadan fast.

Katsav did not shy away from using the feast to address the heavy issues, such as the element of Israeli Arab society who actively support Palestinian terrorism.

Jews and Arabs must work together to nip this trend in the bud, he told the gathering. "If you don't stop it now, you will lose the power to do so in the future," he warned.

Katsav said that he did not object to Israel's Arabs advocating a Palestinian state but he strenuously condemned the participation of Israeli Arabs in terrorism.

Katsav was also critical of those Arab states that provide funding for terrorism. "Whoever supports terrorism, doesn't want a Palestinian state," he said. "Whoever supports the ongoing bloodshed is preventing the creation of a Palestinian state."

Shawki Hatif, head of the Arab Coordinating Council, echoed Katsav's plea for an end to bloodshed. "Every day we are burying people on both sides," he said. "We have to raise our voices against this madness." He also lamented that as a direct outcome of the violence, Israeli Arabs have been marked as enemies.

"With the creation of the state, this community decided to throw in its lot in with Israel," he said. "The question is whether Israel accepts us."

MK Abdel Malik Dehamshe commended Katsav's courage for inviting Arabs leaders at this time to come and break their fast.

 

EU OFFERS TO REMOVE HAMAS FROM TERROR LIST

EU offers to remove Hamas from terror list
Special to World Tribune.com
November 28, 2002

The European Union has offered to remove Hamas from a list of organizations deemed as terrorist if the Islamic group suspends suicide missions against Israel.

Palestinian sources said the EU offer was submitted during negotiations with Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and Egypt over the last month. The sources said an EU representative held a series of talks with Hamas in an effort to achieve a limited ceasefire over the next few months.

Earlier this month, the EU sponsored talks in Cairo between Hamas and the ruling Fatah movement to discuss a ceasefire in the more than two-year-old war against Israel. The talks included a series of offers from both the EU and Egypt for a suspension of attacks.

An EU negotiator was said to have offered to remove Hamas from the European list of terrorist groups. Hamas's military wing Izzedin Al Kassam was placed on the list earlier this year while the political arm was left out.

Palestinian sources said the Fatah-Hamas dialogue will be renewed next month in Cairo. They said they expect the dialogue to include senior representatives of both movements.

[Canada has placed Hamas and the Islamic Jihad groups on Ottawa's list of terrorist groups. Hamas is already on the list of U.S. State Department terrorist organizations.]

For their part, Hamas leaders have rejected a ceasefire in suicide missions in Israeli cities. They termed such attacks as strategic, saying they would lead to the defeat of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in elections scheduled for Jan. 28.

Palestinian sources said Fatah and Palestinian Authority officials have urged Hamas to halt attacks inside Israel until at least after the Israeli elections. PA officials have expressed support for Labor Party chairman Amram Mitzna as Israel's next prime minister.

The EU effort has drawn protests from European parliamentarians. The parliamentarians have accused the EU and its commissioner for foreign relations Chris Patten of encouraging corruption and violence in the Palestinian Authority.

The EU provides 10 million euros a month to the PA and members of the European Parliament's foreign relations committee called for a panel to investigate PA corruption. Several members expressed concern that EU money could have been diverted to fund what they termed were Palestinian terrorist attacks. Patten rejected the assertion.

 

BRITISH JEWS URGE INQUIRY TO EXAMINE CHARGES EU FUNDS TERRORISM

British Jews urge inquiry to examine charges EU funds terrorism
By Douglas Davis
The Jerusalem Post
December 2, 2002

Britain's Jewish community is urging European parliamentarians in Brussels to support requests for a committee of inquiry into allegations that European Union aid is being used to fund Palestinian terrorism.

A minimum of 157 signatures are needed to establish such and inquiry. So far, more than 100 parliamentarians have signed the request.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, the community's representative body, said Monday it was "deeply concerned" by allegations that millions of euros sent to the Palestinian Authority are being used to fund Palestinian terrorism. It has written to all British legislators in Brussels urging them to request an inquiry, it said.

"The situation in the Middle East is heartbreaking for both sides and there can be no peaceful resolution of this conflict until all acts of terrorism have ceased," Tony Sacker, the board's vice-president, said in a letter to the legislators.

"Ensuring that EU funds are not used to fund terrorism will be an important contribution to the peace process," he said.

Last month, EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten said he wanted an investigation into allegations of misuse of EU aid to the Palestinians like "a hole in the head." Patten's remark came in response to a question by Charles Tanner, foreign affairs spokesman for the Conservative group in the European Parliament, over charges that European aid to the Palestinians is being diverted to fund terrorist activity.

In a letter to the London Sunday Telegraph, Tanner said, "If there is to be any chance of securing a lasting peace in the Middle East, we must settle beyond all reasonable doubt such serious allegations of fraudulent and violent use of EU taxpayers' money."

Unless there is an inquiry, Tanner said, "aggrieved Israelis will feel entitled to sue the EU. Commissioner Patten should be the first to accept that he has all to gain by clearing the air once and for all."

Tanner said he was surprised "the European Commission [the cabinet of the European parliament] has resisted this initiative. Commissioner Patten's response to my intervention... was that he wanted the issue investigated 'like a hole in the head.'"

 

NOKDIM WOMEN DEMAND COURT EXTRADITE KNOWN TERRORISTS FROM SPAIN TO ISRAEL

Nokdim women demand court extradite known terrorists from Spain to Israel
Israel radio report
December 3, 2002

Two women from the Jewish community of Nokdim in Samaria, who lost their loved ones in a shooting attack, are demanding the High Court request the extradition of the murderers to Israel, according to Israel Radio.

Tamara Lipschitz, who lost her father, and Miriam Gorov, who lost her husband, when terrorists fired on their vehicle between Nokdim and Tekoa, southeast of Bethlehem shortly after 4 p.m. on February 25, 2002, are making the request.

The victims' family members argue that the terrorists fled to Spain and that Israel has an extradition agreement with the country, according to the radio.

 

PALESTINIAN LEGISLATOR HANAN ASHRAWI WINS SWEDISH PALME PRIZE

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi wins Swedish Palme Prize
The Associated Press
November 20, 2002

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi on Wednesday was named the winner of the US$50,000 Olof Palme Prize for her work for Palestinian independence and openness that "has won respect in all camps," according to the citation.

The annual award is endowed by the family of the slain Swedish prime minister and the governing Social Democratic Party to foster international understanding.

Ashrawi was honored for her "consistent and fearless fight over the years for her people's independence and dignity," the Olof Palme Memorial Fund for International Understanding and Common Security said.

Ashrawi was a spokeswoman for the Palestinian side in peace talks in the early 1990s and served as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's higher education minister between 1996 and 1998. She's served as an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council since 1996.

The awards committee called Ashrawi "a leading force in the struggle for increased openness and democratic structures within her own Palestinian ranks" and said she was "an inspiring symbol of a new, democratic, peaceful Middle East."

A prize ceremony will be held in the Swedish capital on Jan. 30 to mark the birthday of Palme, who was shot to death Feb. 28, 1986, on a Stockholm street as he and his wife walked home unguarded from a downtown movie theater.

The Palme Prize, which includes a diploma, is awarded for an outstanding achievement chosen by the Fund's board. Previous winners include Czech President Vaclav Havel and Amnesty International.

 

“JUDEOPHOBIA EXPLAINS THE PRO-PALESTINIAN HYSTERIA OF THE EUROPEAN LEFT”

"Judeophobia Explains the Pro-Palestinian Hysteria of the European Left"
Interview with Pilar Rahola, Former Member of Parliament of the Spanish Republican Left
By Marc Tobiass
Proche-orient.info
October 2, 2002

A Catalan from Barcelona, Pilar Rahola is a highly colorful figure on the Spanish scene. She is known for her feminism, as well as for her frank and direct manner. A former parliamentarian, Pilar Rahola sat in the national legislature in Madrid for eight years, first as part of the republican left, then as the founder of the Independence Party. However, she decided to leave political life just over a year ago to devote more time to her other passions. She has just published "The History of Ada," a metaphor for abandoned children, those child-slaves or children-soldiers whom one meets all over the world, that is, when they are not transformed into human bombs.

She has also decided to step forward to denounce the flagrant imbalance in the handling of information from the Middle East. Her most recent piece, "In Favor of Israel," is to be published in a book in which fifteen Spanish intellectuals, including Jon Juaristi, president of the Cervantes Institute, and Gabriel Alviac, a well-known journalist with El Mundo [translator's note: a Spanish daily newspaper], seek to reestablish the facts.

Marc Tobiass (of proche-orient.com) talks with Pilar Rahola.

Marc Tobiass: Why did you feel the need to write "In Favor of Israel," to participate in the publication of this book?

Pilar Rahola: Since the start of the second intifada, the Spanish press, on the right as well as the left, has taken a particularly aggressive approach toward Israel, an approach that leaves out the reasons for Israel's actions and tends to ignore the Israeli victims in this conflict. In this situation, a small minority of intellectuals, public personalities-sensitive to the Jewish question in general and to Israel in particular-felt deeply touched by this problem. Outraged by the return of Judeophobia in Spain, we, each in our own way, began to write some articles, to use the media to condemn this situation. And then Oracia Vasquez Real, an important writer in Spain, suggested that we coordinate our activity, that we collect in one work the vision of the Middle East conflict held by fifteen well-known intellectuals.

Marc Tobiass: For whom did you write this book, and with what objective?

Pilar Rahola: Fundamentally, this book is addressed to the anti-Jewish school of thought in Spain. The goal of our book is to launch a debate about Judeophobia in Spain. We are convinced that the current view of the conflict, so Manichaean-with the good, always the Palestinians, and the evil, always the Israelis-has deep roots. It comes from an ancient anti-Jewish feeling that exists in Spain and that also explains the history of Spain. This feeling softened slightly after the Franco era [translator's note: post-1975], but today there is a virulent resurgence of this savage feeling to the point where one can find genuinely anti-Semitic expressions in the Spanish press. In essence, this is a provocative book in the face of totally pro-Arab thinking in Spain, that is completely uncritical of the mistakes of the Arab world in general and of the Palestinians in particular. We want to counter this flagrant imbalance.

Marc Tobiass: This imbalance is not specifically Spanish, nor, for that matter, is the Judeophobia. You rightly recall in your piece the troubling remark of Hermann Broch [translator's note: Austrian anti-Nazi novelist, 1886-1951] denouncing the indifference of Europe as the worst of the crimes in the bloody madness of the Hitler era.

Pilar Rahola: Yes, I think that Europe was indifferent on the surface because it felt guilty within. I believe that this indifference unquestionably comes from Judeophobia. And in the ultimate paradox, the Jewish soul is part and parcel of Europe. Europe cannot be explained without its Jewish soul, but it is also explained by its hatred of the Jews. Thus, all the repeated attempts of Europe to get rid of its Jewish soul are, in fact, a kind of suicide.

After the Holocaust, after Auschwitz, that is, after the ultimate stage in the destruction of the Jewish soul-a process which lasted for centuries in Europe-Europe is shattered, many of its elements are dead, but it also has a bad conscience; it knows it is guilty. Since then, Europe has looked for and found in the Palestinian cause the expiation for its guilt. It is from this that the uncritical and Manichean attitude toward the Palestinian cause emerges-it is, primarily, the last heroic (European) adventure. Further, the more the Jews are presented as being the evil party, the bad ones, the less difficult it is to carry the responsibility and the guilt. This is a process of collective psychology. From such a perspective, there essentially is no difference between France, for example, and Spain. It is unbelievable how Europe continues to hate its Jewish soul, even after it has expelled it!

Marc Tobiasss: According to you, it is this Judeophobia that explains the "pro-Palestinian hysteria" that exists in Europe.

Pilar Rahola: I am sure of it. There is undeniably of late a very serious effort at disinformation about everything to do with the Middle East. There is a kind of madness that excuses all the crimes, abuses, and errors of the Palestinian side, and, at the same time, there is an historical predisposition that condemns any single error of the Israeli side-and this to the point where the Palestinian victims are given maximum attention and the Israeli (victims) are ignored. It is as if the Jewish victims didn't exist, on the pretext that they were responsible for their own death!

The worst thing is that there is also a problem of terrorism in Spain, but when the crimes of ETA [translator's note: the Basque terrorist group] are mentioned, one speaks of terrorism, while when the crimes of Hamas are mentioned, one speaks of militants, activists, resistance, struggle. When one mentions the Palestinian victims, one speaks of children, civilians, innocents, but when one mentions the Israeli victims, one speaks of people without a name, as if to suggest that they are only soldiers, members of the army. There is a distortion in the presentation of the conflict, a dangerous manipulation that feeds the hatred and the anti-Semitism.

Marc Tobiass: Your remarks add up to an indictment of the European media.

Pilar Rahola: What I want is to launch an appeal to the collective European way of thinking, and especially to the intellectuals and journalists, because, from my point of view, they are in the process of creating a collective reality that is Judeophobic. Today one must prove oneself to be on the left; it is necessary to be anti-Semitic to have credibility. Things have reached the point where, for instance, Sharon is always guilty of being guilty, while Arafat is seen as an honest figure, innocent, a tireless old resistance fighter, a heroic figure, a kind of Gandhi-in brief, a person gussied up in romantic finery, when in reality he is head of an oligarchy that has so much blood on its hands.

Israel is not (just) a country that is trying, for better or worse, to survive for fifty years, but it is reduced to one sole image: a country that occupies the territories and whose vocation is to make life miserable for the poor Palestinians. The history of the Holy Land is being reinvented. Everything takes place as if there were instructions: Never recall the faults and errors of the Palestinians, never recall their alliances with dangerous countries such as Iraq, in order to heap more shame on the United States and Israel. The profound reasons for this war are never made clear, never discussed.

Marc Tobiass: There is a comment in your text that sent shivers down my spine. You say that Judeophobia is, in the final analysis, the common denominator between Europe and the Palestinians.

Pilar Rahola: It's true that there are in Europe non-Jews who are sensitive and respect the Jewish soul, which is also part of the foundation of Europe, but they constitute a minority. The majority, the unconscious European collective, does not understand, does not absorb, nor accept, the Jewish phenomenon. And it is there that the essential meeting point between the European and the Palestinian takes place. Palestinian identity is not just a recent phenomenon, but it is, above all, built on hatred of Israel, hatred of the Jews.

If Europe can be explained by its Jewish component and by its hatred of the Jews, as if they were two sides of the same coin, Palestinian identity can essentially be explained only by its anti-Jewish component. It is for this reason that the Palestinians have such difficulty putting an end to their violence.

If the Palestinians renounced their hatred of the Jews, they would at the same time lose a significant part of their identity. To get beyond this violence, they would have to get beyond the hatred and thus change their identity. In other words, they would have to reinvent themselves. It is on the basis of this hatred that the Palestinian meets and agrees with the European. Often, this takes place with people of the left, which is a veritable calamity for people like myself, as we are of the left. We are Europeans, but we do not accept Judeophobia, just as we do not accept the anti-Zionism that justifies and nourishes the anti-Semitism of the Spanish left today.

Marc Tobiass: Isn't this legitimization of hate the true obstacle to peace?

Pilar Rahola: Without doubt. I believe that Europe is directly responsible, and not only for the conflict. In the final analysis, who, if not Europe, created the Jewish problem in the world? In a certain sense, one can even say that Europe is the actual founder of the State of Israel. Europe expelled its Jews-its Spanish Jews, its Russian Jews, its French Jews, and its German (Jews). It expelled them from its body, even though these Jews felt themselves European to the core.

Marc Tobiass: You describe yourself as being of the left and, for you, being a leftist is above all an existential position toward life, toward society. Yet, you yourself say that when this position turns into ideology, at times it becomes an excuse for channeling uncritical dogma, a simplistic Manichaeanism, indeed a racism. You, who were a parliamentarian of the left, how can you handle this contradiction?

Pilar Rahola: Those on the left in Spain have a real problem. In some respects we are the heirs of the French Revolution; we have been influenced by the great ideologues like [Jean-Paul] Sartre and [Albert] Camus, and also by May 1968. That is to say, the overall thinking of the Spanish left comes from France. Now, France is fundamentally anti-American.from which (comes) our anti-Americanism, that at times borders on the pathological, an anti-Americanism which is also anti-Semitic. This explains why to a certain extent the Spanish left is anti-Semitic. Obviously, people like myself have great difficulty with this state of affairs.

I believe that if the left has failed as a great world ideology, it is because the left did not succeed in breaking with the worst of its dogmatic thinking. The left can be very progressive, but it can also be very dogmatic. Unfortunately, the left became infatuated with such infamous dictators as Pol Pot, Mao, and Stalin, and now it is in love with Arafat. The left should be critical, and in the first place, self-critical.

Marc Tobiass: And what is the dogma that worries you the most today?

Pilar Rahola: The most absurd thing is to watch leaders of the left today greet and celebrate Arab leaders, even when they are fundamentalists. For example, in the debates that followed the attacks of September 11, we heard an anti-American discourse here, pooh-poohing the victims, something which is in and of itself terrible! And there were those who tried to downgrade-with that tawdry third-worldism which characterizes some circles of the left-the danger embodied in individuals like Bin Laden, who is, in fact, an authentic fascist. I believe that for the moment the world remains blind to the biggest totalitarianism of the twenty-first century, which is Islamic fundamentalism. Now we must prepare ourselves seriously to face this danger: For me, this totalitarianism is without any shadow of a doubt comparable to Stalinism and Nazism, the biggest scourges of the twentieth century.

Marc Tobiass: To finish this interview, Pilar Rahola, I would like to cite a sentence from your text: You say that to be "in favor of Israel" is the most intelligent, rational, prudent, and honest way to be in favor of Palestine.

Pilar Rahola: First of all, I do not accept the use of defense of the Palestinian cause as a pretext for a new epidemic of anti-Semitism. If Europe had had a critical discussion that did not hesitate to condemn the grave and permanent mistakes of the Palestinian side, if Europe had been more critical of the Palestinians, we would be closer to a solution today. But Arafat enjoys support and legitimacy in Europe which allows him to never miss an opportunity for missing the opportunity of peace. I believe that if Europe had been more critical toward Arafat, toward the different aspects of Palestinian violence, if Europe had been tougher in its statements, the Palestinians would have been compelled to step back from the violence and the suicide attacks.

A sense of justice calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state next to the State of Israel, but not in its place. Yet, at its core, Europe is ill at ease with the existence of Israel, and one can even say that the existence of this state provokes resentment and anger on the European left. Even if this is not acknowledged, many Europeans contend that a Palestinian state must replace the State of Israel.

But for those of us who support Israel, who are in favor of good neighborly relations-for coexistence between the State of Israel and a Palestinian state-our way of saying YES to a Palestinian state is also a way of saying YES to the existence of the State of Israel.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.