by Dr. Haim Shine
In January 1904, just a few months before he died, an infirm Benjamin Ze'ev Herzl traveled to Italy to persuade the Italian king and the pope to support the Zionist cause, highlighting the surging tide of anti-Semitism inundating Europe. The pope had expected Herzl to bend down on one knee and to kiss his extended hand, but Herzl, a proud Jew, refused.
The pope explained to Herzl that the Holy See would neither accept a Jewish entity in the Holy Land, nor the restoration of Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem. An independent Jewish state with its capital in Jerusalem blatantly contradicted the Christian faith, as it would have refuted Christianity's replacement of Judaism. The Catholic leadership refused to condemn anti-Semitism, and throughout the 20th century, it continued to wage a consistent campaign denouncing Zionism.
Even today, several European countries are unwilling to reconcile with a strong, independent Israel ruling over Jerusalem. The U.K., France and Italy summoned Israeli ambassadors to protest Israel's decision to build residential units in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. The British will probably never forgive us for the fact that just a handful of resistance fighters managed to bring the British empire down on its knees; the Catholic French will most likely never get over our resounding victory in the Six-Day War, which shattered then-President Charles de Gaulle's religious faith, and the Italians are doing their best to erase former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's legacy -- he was a staunch Israel supporter.
Protesting construction over the Green Line is kind of like playing pretend. The Europeans do not really care about a few homes in Beit El or Yitzhar. The main source of contention is Jerusalem and development there, but the Europeans have to understand that the overwhelming majority of Israelis would never relinquish even a sliver of territory in Jerusalem, in the same way that the English, French and Italians would never agree to concede an alleyway in London, Paris or Rome, even if most of its residents were Muslim immigrants.
These European countries could easily win the Nobel Prize for Machiavellian hypocrisy. They bear a message of peace while simultaneously hindering progress in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The European Union has been throwing sticks in the spokes of the American peace carriage. Certain EU members have even been collaborating with Hamas and radical Islamist groups, attempting to thwart the diplomatic process. So even if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wanted to reach some sort of arrangement, which is highly doubtful, the EU's one-sided stance would cause him to harden his line. He has no reason to concede anything. If the peace process fails to bear fruit, Abbas will get Europe's full backing to crush Israel through international organizations and to paralyze its economy with endless boycotts.
When former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion declared in 1948 that "the Jewish nation has risen up in the land of Israel -- with national independence," he was clarifying that the Jewish people would never again dance to the sound of flat music.
Dr. Haim Shine
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