Op-Ed: The European Obsession with Judea and Samaria
Tom WilsonTom Wilson is a British born writer and political commentator. He writes often on matters of politics and religion as well as making regular media appearances discussing current affairs in the US and Middle East.
At times this ongoing fixation has appeared almost farcical. On the same day in May of last year that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas once again stated his refusal to return to the negotiating table, the European Union was seemingly too busy announcing the publication of yet another report on Settlements to even notice. While Palestinian intransigence remains unshakable European foreign policy analysts obsessively count and recount the number of Jews living in Israel’s disputed territories and meanwhile the rest of the region precariously hurtles from one crisis to the next.
True, the Zionist national revival in general sits squarely counter to the post-nationalist universalism of the European project and the progressive march towards the no doubt thrilling dream of world government that so many eurocrats already speak fondly of. Palestinian Arab nationalism, as aggressive and fiercely intolerant as it may well be, is of course dressed up as an anti-colonial civil rights movement, one to which Europeans enthusiastically lend their support, perhaps in the hope of redeeming themselves of their own history.
Then in 1967 everything changed. In fending off its attackers not only did Israel establish its military preeminence in the region but now all of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, and the biblical heartlands of Judea and Samaria had fallen to Jewish Sovereignty. This was too much. No Palestinian Arab State had been extinguished; Jordanian occupiers had simply been replaced by Israeli forces. Yet, the international community, seemingly previously untroubled by the Jordanian seizure of these areas, was clearly outraged by the Jewish presence there and from the UN the call immediately began for Israeli withdrawal.
Liberal Westerners are happy to swoon over Islam. This is primarily because they don’t for a moment entertain the thought that it could be true.
Yet it gets worse. The return of Jews and Jewish sovereignty to such religiously sensitive areas as Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria all begins to look horrifically like happenings envisaged by the Bible. For post-Judeoa-Christian Europe it is difficult to overstate just how catastrophic it would be for anything to appear to give any kind of validation to biblical claims. Europeans have spent a century or more trying to free themselves of the frustrating limits that biblical morality placed on their appetites.
Islam, on the other hand, does not concern most Europeans, for as Douglas Murray observes in his latest ebook Islamophilia, liberal Westerners are happy to swoon over Islam. This is primarily because they don’t for a moment entertain the thought that it could be true. They do not historically have the same cultural hang-ups about Quaranic prohibitions and so feel no sense of guilt when say drinking alcohol for instance. Christianity and its taboos still loom in the European psyche, however, and so Europeans often reveal themselves to be far more hostile to the Church leaders than to many extremist Islamic clerics; compare Yusuf Qawadawi’s visit to London to that of Pope Benedict’s.
Six decades on from the German-led attempt to extinguish the Jewish people, one that found collaborators in every European country, and it is striking how in some German cities it can seem as if there is a sex-shop on every street corner. Across Europe grand Cathedrals, like the once thriving Jewish quarters, are almost entirely deserted. Yet, anti-Semites always encounter the same conundrum; the more they persecute the Jews, the more they reaffirm the very Jewish exceptionalism they seek to deny. Success becomes a failure that must spur on new attempts.
The European Union’s latest directive against the "settlements" has no shortage of unfortunate historical connotations. Not only are Europeans once more telling Jews where they can and can’t live but it smacks of a futile colonialism whereby Europeans are again recklessly attempting to draw other people’s borders for them. Similarly, boycotts are a longstanding tactic in the war against Jews, advocated in early Medieval England just as they were also the first anti-Jewish policy enforced in Nazi Germany.