Europe's obtuse view of Israeli-Arab conflict revealed

Wednesday, March 02, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

It constantly seems as though Western power brokers are just playing dumb when dealing with the Israeli-Arab conflict in order to advance the interests of their own nations in the Middle East.

But last week Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn gave an interview to the Jerusalem Post that revealed an incredibly naive and amnesic outlook on the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs and why it has once again stagnated.

Asselborn told the Post that the blame for stalled negotiations must be borne solely by Israel. The visiting diplomat said that he “doesn’t know any example of a ‘confrontational posture’ taken by the Palestinians,” and insisted that all Israel’s ostensible peace partners want “is to stop settlements, and then they will immediately start negotiations.”

Not only did Asselborn dismiss out of hand the fact that it is the Palestinians who are turning down overtures to restart talks, but he completely ignored the blood-soaked history of Arab efforts to eradicate the Jewish presence in this land. Nor did he appear to have any understanding that this land is disputed, as the Jews have a long history, and even legal claim to it.

“The responsibility [for the breakdown of peace talks] is on the Israeli side in my view… So why don’t you try now to do what the whole world expects?”

In one spectacular demonstration of his disconnected view of reality, Asselborn insisted that Jerusalem could be an open city and still be the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state.

“You don’t have to cut Jerusalem in two parts. Jerusalem could be the capital of both states. That’s possible, perfectly possible.”

He also believes the border with Gaza could be dissolved, and that Palestinians from Gaza could be allowed to freely enter and work in Israel, and vice versa, with no adverse results.

When presented with the fact that 10 years ago there were far fewer checkpoints, and no security walls, but that such measures became necessary because the Palestinians were blowing up Israeli buses and cafes, Asselborn simply replied:

“Yes, but that’s finished.”

Asselborn went on to reveal where most of his misinformation is coming from - his unquestioned willingness to swallow Palestinian propaganda at face value.

The foreign minister said he doesn’t understand why Iran should be such an influencing factor in Israel-Palestinian peace talks, since, after all, most Palestinians he has spoken to told him they “are not friends of Iran, not at all.” His apparent ignorance of the fact that Hamas receives much backing and ideological support from Iran, and that most Palestinians in turn voted for Hamas is unforgivable for a foreign minister.

Asselborn’s gullibility was unmasked most fully when he presented as fact, because his Palestinian friends told him so, the notion that Jewish communities will soon cover no less than 40 percent of the territory in Judea and Samaria, the so-called “West Bank.” In reality, the Jewish communities, or “settlements,” cover a mere 1 percent of the area.

Asselborn may be dismissed as a flaky minister from a small and ultimately unimportant nation, but his views are representative of European leftists across the continent. And while it could be concluded that Asselborn was going to an extreme in playing dumb for the sake of maintaining Europe’s positions on the region, the innocence and gullibility of his tone indicates that he truly believes these misrepresentations to be true.

As many others have done, Asselborn may have so dedicated himself to toeing a particular line that it has become second nature to digest as truth any alterations of reality that allow him to continue pressing Europe’s interests.

This variety of cerebral impairment, if indeed it is what is afflicting men and women like Asselborn, is as difficult to counter as overtly sinister motives. Merely presenting them with the facts and truth would do little good, as they have determined long ago that the truth has a different form entirely.

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