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Behind the Headlines the View from Europe

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For the past two months the weather has been rather cool, rainy and, at times, outright miserable. “You call that summer” one headline organized. People had reason to mean. The decline of tourism put a dent in the calculation of many business firms and both commerce and people involved in it have not been in the best frame of mind.

The foreign ministers of the European Economic Community (EEC) tried to escape the miserable weather by heading to Venice for a summit meeting. Perhaps they blamed the bad weather on the Jews, as their predecessors did in the Middle Ages. In any case, they adopted a resolution which, in the final analysis, is tantamount to unconditional surrender to the Palestine Liberation Organization for Europe and for Israel.

Immediately after the declaration was adopted in Venice the headlines stated: “Israelest isolee”; “Israel isoliert”, and “Israel isolated in the world.” At first the reader does not know whether this is a statement of triumph, of fact, or of wishful thinking. But reading the editorials and the slanted news presented by almost all the French, German and Swiss newspapers is a sad experience, Israel has become, next to South Africa, the whipping boy of the nations.

The editorials that agree with the Venice declaration and the demands at the United Nations in the General Assembly and in the Security Council that Israel evacuate all the so called occupied territories justify their position by noting the absence of a strong American leadership and point to the weakness and near paralysis of the Carter Administration.

“It is difficult to speak of a great power, one which cannot even keep five helicopters in the air,” this writer was told, regarding America’s aborted effort in Iran to rescue its 53 hostages. Furthermore, it is said, no initiative is expected from America before the Presidential election in November. If President Carter wins, he will squeeze Israel again to be more forthcoming on the issues the Carter Administration finds most vexing. If Reagan wins, everything will be up in the air, this writer was told matter-of-factly.

A FLIMSY EXCUSE

This, surely, is a flimsy excuse for the behavior of the West European nations which did not earlier support the Arabs in the Mideast conflict. In the fall of 1973 the EEC published a declaration which cited the principle that territories taken by force must be returned to the former inhabitants and called for Israel’s confinement to its 1967 borders.

The EEC did not bother itself with the Soviet Union which more than once seized territories by force, nor did they refer to the suppression of minorities and dissidents in the Soviet Union. Neither did they, for example, cite India which grabbed Portugal’s colonies in the Indian Ocean.

But these some nations feel no compunction about labelling Israel an occupier and the Arabs who have attacked Israel four times are viewed as the pitiful victims of “Israeli aggression.” It has reached the point where whatever Israel does or does not do is held against her. If there were no settlements in Judaea and Samaria the Arabs and their European satellites would have to invent something for which they could blame Israel.

All this evokes memories of the Crusades in the Middle Ages, especially after reading editorials dealing with the proclamation by Israel’s Knesset that united Jerusalem is that nation’s capital. The editorials seem set to organize another Crusade to free, Jerusalem from the infidels. The outcry, particularly in the German and French press, was great. The Swiss newspapers which, for years, tried to be impartial on issues dealing with the Mideast, are beginning to reflect the influence of Arab pressure.

Europe has increasingly been relegated to a satellite status: first of America and now of the Arab world. The thought process this dependency has generated trophies the awkward and spine numbing posture of fence-sitting. The effort to retain their economic well-being and the frantic attempt to assure ongoing prosperity has led the European nations to wallow in greed, selfishness and an irreverent zest for the good life.

In Europe, the ideal of justice of even fair play has been scrapped in favor of an object surrender to those who complain the loudest. Everything that can disturb the good life and the quest for maximum material goods has to be placated — as the PLO was — or has to be placed off limits — as Israel was. This attitude has led to some strange behavior on the part of the European powers in the Mideast conflict, in Afghanistan and in their participation in the Olympic Games in Moscow. The consequences’ of this can be highly disturbing.

A BLATANT ATTEMPT

The German newspaper, Die Welt, reported that a journalist, Dr. Paul Martin, was indicted by a court in Cologne for “war mongering.” He had discussed in his column the obvious situation that some day the industrial states of Europe and the United States might find it necessary to occupy the oil fields in Arab countries. The risk in doing that is so “great” that the volunteer fire brigade of Tulsa, Oklahoma would be sufficient to accomplish the mission, he wrote. It is hardly possible to imagine a more blatant attempt to curb any voice that might arouse Arab displeasure.

Meanwhile, the Arab propaganda barrage is going full blast. A presentation of the Jewish cause is sorely lacking to counteract this. The International Herald Tribune, on its front page, printed an interview with PLO chief Yasir Arafat who tried to minimize the recent PLO resolution calling for the annihilation of Israel. It was, he explained, only a draft resolution. Even the Swiss newspapers appear to accept this view.

The stakes are high for both the PLO and for Israel. The year of decision might be closer than it would appear. There is a drift of events which, slowly, might lead to a confrontation and an eruption in the Mideast. King Hussein of Jordan, who has a great deal to lose from a PLO dominated West Bank, cries about an “unavoidable disaster.” But no one is doing anything about it as oil is being poured on the fire. Tragically, too many people, including many American Jews are going about their business as usual. From this side of the ocean, this inaction and indifference is truly alarming.

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