Congratulations are in order for Dr. Javier Solana, a senior European Union (EU) official responsible for foreign affairs.

After centuries of anti-Semitism, during which Europeans would frequently describe Jews as ?wily? and ?clever?, Dr. Solana came to Israel this week and shattered that dreadful habit. Mustering up all the diplomatic skill and analytical ability at his disposal, Dr. Solana told reporters that Israel?s demand for seven days of quiet before resuming negotiations with the Palestinians was plain-old ?stupidity?. Yes, that?s right, he said ?stupidity?.

So it now seems we Jews can finally rejoice. At last, Europeans no longer think we are too ?clever? - they have downgraded us to ?stupid?. Score one in the age-old battle against anti-Semitism.

Having dispensed with the pleasantries, Dr. Solana then proceeded to suggest that Israel should immediately begin negotiating with Yasser Arafat, regardless of the ongoing Palestinian terror campaign. After all, as Solana?s traveling companion, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, said over the weekend, ?the Europeans want to underline that after the 12 days of relative quiet recently there is a need to re-launch the peace process (Reuters, November 17).?

Of course, there has been no such ?relative quiet? of late. As Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pointed out at his press conference with Verhofstadt, there have been 268 Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis in the past 12 days, resulting in 5 people killed and 59 others injured. That averages out to almost 1 terror attack every hour, stretching over the 12-day period. Even if one is willing to forgive the Europeans for their lack of mathematical acumen, it is somewhat harder to overlook the moral obscenity of their current stance. For they are in effect saying that just because the Palestinians are killing us a little less than they used to, we should rush back to the negotiating table with them.

Sorry, Javier, but things just don?t work that way anymore.

The State of Israel was founded, among other reasons, to provide safety and security for the Jewish people and to let our enemies know that they could no longer kill us with impunity. Perhaps, in the shtetls of Europe, surrounded by animus and hostility, the Jewish communities of old had little choice but to appease those who would persecute them, but those days, my dear Javier, are over. The Jewish people are no longer wards of European nobles and overlords. We do not need your permission, let alone your approval, to defend ourselves. With all due respect, Europe is hardly in a position to preach to Israel about how best to protect Jewish lives. After a thousand years of massacres, pogroms, book-burnings, blood-libels, expulsions, Inquisitions, concentration camps and death marches, I think the Jewish people have had quite enough of European morality, thank you very much.

As a physicist by training, Dr. Solana is surely familiar with Isaac Newton?s Third Law of Motion, which states that if one object exerts a force on a second object, the second object exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the object body. As it is more commonly known: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." That, in a nutshell, embodies Israel?s current approach. Every Palestinian assault will be met with a firm Israeli response. No other country in the world would put up with the daily violence and terror that Israelis have been subjected to over the past 13 months. Neither should Israel.

If Dr. Solana thinks that the people of Israel will agree to rush back to the negotiating table and simply overlook the 200 innocent Israelis murdered since September 2000, then he is sadly mistaken. Even if Arafat were to end the violence tomorrow, it would make little difference, because whatever credibility he may have sought in recent years with the Israeli public has been thoroughly and irrevocably erased. By resorting to violence, Arafat has demonstrated that he is not interested in compromise, but in victory. Faced with such a foe, Israel has little choice but to fight back.

Call it what you will, Dr. Solana ? it is anything but ?stupid?. To Israelis, it is a matter of life and death.


Originally published in the Jerusalem Post. The article is posted with permission of the author.

Michael Freund served as Deputy Director of Communications and Policy Planning in the Prime Minister?s Office from 1996 to 1999.