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Israel's image in the European Union


Monday, November 3, 2003 The Jerusalem Post
Worse than North Korea?

Asked to rank 15 countries on how they threaten "world peace," Europeans chose their top threats thus: Israel, Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United States.
A full 59 percent of those polled in 15 European nations ranked Israel as the top threat. What is one to make of this?
The simplest explanation cannot be dismissed. As Minister-without-Portfolio Natan Sharansky, responsible for Diaspora affairs, responded, the fact that Europe regards Israel as more threatening than nations that support and finance terrorism is "proof that behind 'political' criticism of Israel stands nothing less than pure anti-Semitism."

Obviously, those results are not neutral. They come from people that have no idea about the live the people have in North Korea or in a lot of unpleasant palces. I don’t intend to justify them.

There are perhaps various causes that did prompt the people to answer like they did. One of those is probably the image of Israel in Europe.

An image that whatever I have read doesn’t depend so much of the quality of the Israeli PR to the EU that it is made of reporting like the one below. No opinion, just reporting what is happening to farmers in the territories even when the State is trying to restrain the fanatics.


"Le Soir" is a center left Belgian daily.

Le Soir 101103
Olive trees : target of the extremist settlers
SERGE DUMONT, envoyé spécial ŕ Einous (Cisjordanie)

See that’s all that’s left to me. In the night of last Monday to Thursday, a commando of rogues has entirely destroyed the olive grove of Fawzi, a farmer well known in the Cisjordanian village of Einous. He was proud of his century old trees.

It took a few hours to saw or damage heavily with blows of axes. Hardly ten were saved. Probably because the aggressors didn’t have the time to finish the job before the first daylights. My great father planted those olive trees with the uncle who did raise him, tells the farmer, staring into the bottom of his cup of black coffee. Look at these knotty trunks and at these twisted branches, each tree is unique. The older it is and the more it gives fruits. Each of those did bring me around 150 E a year. With my harvest of olives, I could nearly feed all my family. But, what now? I have seven children. What can I give them to eat? The people who make those attacks have one purpose: by destroying our cultures, they want to push us out.

According to the Israeli police in Cisjordan, such attacks are becoming more numerous since the start of the olive harvest, 15 days ago. Especially in the areas near Einous, Sawiyeth and Hawarah, small Palestinian villages near several Jewish colonies including Itshar, a settlement with 17 inhabitants indicted to have attacked Palestinians. Another shall appear this Monday before the Kfar Saba (Israel) court for depredation of Palestinian assets.

But the Einous olive groves stand also near an « illegal » outpost (built without the agreement of the Israeli government) known as « Hill 725 ». Some caravans put there two years ago, uprooted by the iDF last June for the « Roadmap », but rebuilt since. For Fawzi and his neighbors, two farmers whose groves were also damaged early this week, those settlers are the guilty ones. Those people are worse than the ones of Itshar, says Tawfk. Sometimes, they come down from their hill, yelling insults in Arabic and brandishing weapons or sticks. They see us as being lower than dogs. Many of them throw rocks at our women who don’t dare go work.


Hamra, the wife of one of those farmers, no longer leaves her home since a settler did throw a rock at the back of her skull. He was yelling to me to leave and to go live back at home. But, it is here my home, not in Egypt, nor in Jordan, she says in anger. Those people want to drive us to give up our fields. So they can take them. That Allah strikes down me if they achieve that!

Since the start of the intifada, the incidents have always been numerous during the harvest of olives. This year, under the pressure of the Israeli human rights organizations that arrange watches around the groves and supply volunteers for the harvest. The iDF has made provisions to try to prevent the "extremists" from passing to the action. Around « touchy » colonies like Ithsar, the motorized patrols were reinforced and some station permanently near the most threatened olive groves

Exceptionally, the "Yecha" (the powerful lobby of the colonists of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) has in addition condemned "the stupid actions » carried out these last days. In the same way, the "Council of the rabbis of Judaea-Samaria" (the rabbis of the colonies of the West Bank) prohibited to his flocks to take part in them. As for Ariel Sharon he has, on November 6, ordered the opening of a judicial enquiry and requested the police to find the culprits, as soon as possible. Still, all that was however not really helpful as new destruction’s of olive-trees were also reported during the weekend. According to the Israeli progressive organizations like "Ta' ayush" and "Rabbis' for the humans right", tens of thousands of trees would have been cut down in less than fifteen days and no one knows if the Palestinians will find the courage to replant others.

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by Editor @ 12:22 AM CST [Link]


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Replies: 7 comments

Perhaps it is the reporting is at fault, since it appears that this round of damage at least may not have been done by settlers, and the trees appear to have been pruned rather than destroyed.
Was it a ploy by Palestinians to get sympathy? Perhaps, perhaps not. But the sort of reporting that rushes to tell only one side of the story is typical of the problems that Israel has in certain EU countries.

Israel has a population of 6.5 million and an area of 8,000 square miles. Clearly a postage-stamp sized country cannot be a bigger threat to world peace than North Korea or Iran. People often imagine that Israel is the size of France or larger, with a huge population, because of poor education and because of the way the news is slanted.

The most recent poll showed that a large percentage of Italians believe Israel has no right to exist and that the Holocaust is an invention of the Jews.
What is the connection between alleged desecration of olive trees by fanatics and Holocaust Denial?

People around the world se images of desecrated synagogues in France or Germany but none of them believe that Germany or France has no right to exist.

Do these beliefs reflect any action of Israel or rather a failing of the European educational system?

Certainly PR that tries to defend specific Israeli policies and insists that all criticism of Israel is antisemitism is not going to make much headway in the EU, and is unjustified. However, if a large number of Europeans believe that the Holocaust never happened, it is time for the EU to re-examine their educational system and press as well. That sort of result is not due to any Israeli policy.

Posted by Moderator @ 11/11/2003 08:32 PM CST

I bet the paper reporting the incident of the olive trees will never report the response by either the settlers or the Israeli government. these will be found at

Posted by Ed Remler @ 11/12/2003 07:17 AM CST

Can one admit all opinions? Or are some "opinions" rather a crime against the truth and History? I know what happens in the "Territories" and so I despise those that say the Palestinian olive trees were just "pruned", not destroyed, those that say all the Europeans are anti-Semites, claiming moreover we are in Europe too stupid to know the situation in North Korea and that we deny the Shoah. This is the usual propaganda of Israel's government an his accomplices. To this kind of people, we, the so stupid Europeans, we say stop, we do no longer admit your blackmail and accusations. This is the deep sense of the EU poll.

Posted by MARCHOIS @ 11/12/2003 11:15 AM CST

I am curious to know:
1. Has the mood in Europe ever been sympathetic to Israel and if so, when did it change and why?
2. Do European papers report Palestinian suicide bombers and if so, is it sympathetic to them?


Posted by Karen @ 11/12/2003 10:23 PM CST

there was a time when people
did not believe that death
chambers existed in the days of hitler.
after one thousand years of
anti semitism, thereis little
chance for the EU to change.

Posted by roy in u.s.a. @ 11/17/2003 12:15 AM CST

Yes Israel is the number ONE threat to the world peace. They refuse to end their occupation of Arab land. Israel has a huge nuclear arsenal and willing to use it against arabs and muslims if forced to end its occupation of Arab land. Israel use brutal methods to fight those who say no to the occupation. Israel is and by their daily killing of defenseless Muslims is angering, more than one billion Muslims. Today Muslims around the world hate Israel more than any thing else and if they have the chance they may want to tear Israel into pieces, of course Israel is ready for such times by planning to use the nuclear weapons to wipe out every Islamic country if necessary. Is this any thing less than threatening the world peace.

Posted by tyrant loather @ 11/18/2003 10:00 AM CST

when the romans destroyed the temple in isreal and drove the jews into slavery and exile.they also renamed the country palstine.i wonder who told the arabs that they could have it to do as they seen fit? give the jews back their homeland and go back to the desert where you came from! PS TAKE ALLAH WITH YOU IF YOU ARE NOT GOING TO PRACTISE THE WONDERFULL FAITH THAT HE CREATED,STOP THE KILLING BEFOR IT DESTROYS ALL OF YOU...

Posted by tim @ 11/22/2003 09:00 PM CST

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