Tuesday, December 22, 2009

P. David Hornik: Eurabia vs. Israel on Jerusalem

The recent Swiss vote to ban minarets was seen by many as a further indication that European populations are waking up to the threat of Europe’s Islamization and the need to stop the trend.

If so, the European Union—the centralized bureaucracy that, as documented in Bat Ye’or’s important book Eurabia, went “over the heads” of European publics to meld the European and Arab/Muslim civilizations in the first place—still hasn’t caught up and remains locked in a pro-Arab/Muslim disposition.

At least, the EU’s stance on Jerusalem would suggest so. Last week the new EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, “came down hard on the Israeli government” in her maiden speech to the European Parliament and said:

“East Jerusalem is occupied territory together with the West Bank. The EU is opposed to the destruction of homes, the eviction of Arab residents and the construction of the separation barrier.”

Her words prompted Israel’s deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon to reply:

“Just as the Romans did not succeed in cutting off Jerusalem from Israel, so too will diplomats from the UN and the EU be unsuccessful as well.”

Ashton, previously the EU’s trade commissioner and expected to be given considerable authority as a new sort of EU foreign minister, also called Israel’s recently launched ten-month moratorium on settlement construction a “first step”—representing, as the EUobserver comments, “a cooler tone than EU foreign ministers who last week took ‘positive note’ of the move.”

The EUobserver also pointed out that the speech was

“significant for what it left out: Ms Ashton did not say that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, that it faces a security threat from Palestinian ‘terrorists’ or that Palestinians should immediately return to formal peace talks—the classic tenets of Israeli supporters.”

Ashton’s statements also come hard on the heels of an EU-Israel spat over Jerusalem in which the EU explicitly called for East Jerusalem to become the capital of a Palestinian state. That demand was later only partially toned-down under intense Israeli objections.

In other words, even at a time when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly accepted the call for a Palestinian state and enraged part of his right-wing base with the settlement moratorium, the EU keeps reflexively embracing Arab/Muslim positions.

As always, the EU’s stance on Jerusalem ignores several facts.

Jerusalem was unified under Israeli sovereignty in 1967, after nineteen years in which Jordan illegally occupied the city and finally used it to attack Israel despite being implored by Israel to keep out of the fighting.

Under Israeli rule, Muslims and all other groups (except Jews—on the Temple Mount itself) have enjoyed full freedom of worship—a stark contrast to the nineteen years of Jordanian rule when Jews and Christians were denied access to Jerusalem’s holy places and Jewish synagogues and gravestones were destroyed and desecrated.

Muslims already have full control over Mecca, Medina, and countless sacred locales and shrines throughout the vast Muslim world, and their demand for Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem and the redivision of Israel’s capital can reasonably be regarded as excessive – especially when, as noted, Israel gives Muslims full access to their Jerusalem shrines and full rights in the city.

Indeed, Jerusalem is full of minarets, and any visitor to its Old City or its Arab neighborhoods can attest to the vibrancy of Muslim religious life there. The EU should be more concerned with Islamization on the continent than with taking harsh stances against Israel as it struggles to survive and to find the right mix of accommodation and steadfastness in an Arab/Muslim environment hostile its very existence.

But for the EU, after decades of forsaking its Judeo-Christian roots for pro-Arabism, that may be too much to expect. Even if European populations are starting to grasp the consequences of this civilizational self-abnegation, Europe’s Brussels-based bureaucracy remains willfully ignorant of the stakes.


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