Friday, September 03, 2010

What they really think of us (contd.)

Via David Hirsh at Engage, here is one more story in which an important European official accidentally gets quoted about what he really thinks. From the Guardian:
A top European official was accused of antisemitism tonight after declaring that there was little point in engaging in rational argument with Jews and suggesting that the latest Middle East peace talks were doomed because of the power of the Jewish lobby in Washington.

Karel De Gucht, the European commissioner for trade, and a former Belgian foreign minister, sparked outrage after voicing his scepticism about the prospects for the negotiations which opened in the US this week. He told a Belgian radio station that most Jews always believed they were right, and questioned the point of talking to them about the Middle East. [....]

"Don't underestimate the opinion … of the average Jew outside Israel," he told the radio station. "There is indeed a belief – it's difficult to describe it otherwise – among most Jews that they are right. And a belief is something that's difficult to counter with rational arguments. And it's not so much whether these are religious Jews or not. Lay Jews also share the same belief that they are right. So it is not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is actually happening in the Middle East."

Explaining why he thought the peace talks were probably doomed, he added: "Do not underestimate the Jewish lobby on Capitol Hill. That is the best organised lobby, you shouldn't underestimate the grip it has on American politics – no matter whether it's Republicans or Democrats." [....]
It's not as though such views are exceptional or idiosyncratic. In many western European circles they have become common, even mainstream. What's embarrassing is to have "one of the most powerful officials in Brussels," as the article describes De Gucht, saying this sort of thing to a journalist on the record. Top Eurocrats are supposed to be more diplomatic.

This incident has, of course, let to an unconvincingly pro-forma not-quite-apology:
Officials in Brussels stressed the remarks did not represent EU views or policies. De Gucht was forced to issue a statement clarifying his remarks.

"I gave an interview … I gave my personal point of view," he said. "I regret that the comments that I made have been interpreted in a sense that I did not intend.

"I did not mean in any possible way to cause offence or stigmatise the Jewish community. I want to make clear that antisemitism has no place in today's world." [....]
Why on earth should we take offense? I happen to know some Jews myself with whom it's pointless to try to engage in rational argument, about politics or anything else. (And non-Jews I know have remarked that it can be especially dangerous to get in the middle of two Jews arguing about Israel.)

Not that the goyim are necessarily any more reasonable, to be honest. For example, when it comes to the Middle East, Europeans always seem to believe that they are not only right but morally superior, too, despite the frequent cynicism, smugness, superficiality, bigotry, fecklessness, and moral irresponsibility of their views and policies on these and other matters. But that's just my personal point of view, and I would certainly regret it if my comments were misinterpreted in a sense that caused offense.

Some Jews, however, did take offense at De Gucht's remarks.
Jewish leaders were incandescent. "This is part of a dangerous trend of incitement against Jews and Israel in Europe that needs to be stamped out immediately," said Moshe Kantor, the head of the European Jewish Congress. "What sort of environment allows such remarks to be made openly by a senior politician? Once again we hear outrageous antisemitism from a senior European official. The libel of Jewish power is apparently acceptable at the highest levels of the EU."
See? Jews are hysterical. How can one reason with such people?

--Jeff Weintraub

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