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From "Blood Libel" to "Land Libel"

By Michael Freund
8/15/2006, 12:00 AM

For a continent that prides itself on the glory and depth of its civilization over the centuries, Europe sure has a lot of work still to do when it comes to its treatment of the Jewish people.

For hundreds of years, European attitudes toward the Jews were essentially shaped by a spiteful and malicious lie.

And in that sense, at least, very little seems to have changed.

For while they once charged us with the “blood libel”, saying that we illicitly used other people’s blood, various European leaders now falsely tar us instead with “land libel”, asserting that we have taken other people’s territory.

And just as they once blamed the Jews for all sorts of catastrophes, such as the Black Death, they now seek to lay various world crises at our doorstep, too.

Take, for example, British Prime Minister Tony Blair's address the other day at a banquet in London, where he outlined his view of how to resolve the crisis in the Middle East.

In an astonishing display of delusion masquerading as analysis, Blair essentially sought to convince his audience that the "core" of all the region's troubles - and yes, even those of Iraq - are somehow connected with the Jewish state.

"A major part of the answer to Iraq lies not in Iraq itself but outside it, in the whole of the region," Blair said, adding that it is necessary to adopt what he terms a "whole Middle East" strategy.

And then, after suggesting that the current focus on Syria and Iran is misplaced, Blair added the clincher: "On the contrary, we should start with Israel/Palestine. That is the core."

The core?

What on earth is he talking about?

To suggest that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is somehow connected with the Baathist insurgency in Iraq, or with Syria's desire to strangle Lebanon, or Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara, or Sudan's acts of murder in Darfur, or any of the myriad other intra-Arab conflicts in the region, is not only intellectually vacuous, it is downright silly.

Worse yet, it is a cheap and transparent attempt to mollify the Arab states by parroting their party line of "don’t blame us for our region's troubles, blame the Jews".

In promoting this hogwash, Blair is deflecting attention from the real, underlying cause of the region's ills, namely, the Arab world's lack of freedom, democracy, tolerance and mutual respect.

While courting the Arabs may prove useful to Mr. Blair as he plans for his retirement next year, we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking that it will make the Middle East a safer or more peaceful place.

Instead, it is just one more sorry example of just how Europe's underlying approach toward the Jew has yet to really change.