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Jewish World Review Jan. 9, 2001 /24 Teves 5762

Sam Schulman

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The European Union - Sad for Europeans, Harmful to Jewry, and First in the Hearts of The Forward

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com --
IN an even more snotty and perfervid tone than usual, the editorial page of the new Forward celebrates the introduction of the Euro and the entire European Union project. What they like best about it is the rebuke it offers to American ideals of selfishness, self-reliance, and self-government. (What The Forward means by American is Republican, of course). After praising the EU's achievement in lowering barriers between nations, building trust, and opening borders, the youthful editors conclude:

No, Europe hasn't entered the messianic era. There are plenty of things it does worse than America. . . But, as the introduction of the Euro reminds us, Europe's system of cooperative internationalism and social democracy works pretty well - well enough, at least, to put the lie to those who say such things can't work.

Why should the European Union mean anything in particular to Jews? First, we have to understand how utterly different its reality is to the dithyrambic fantasy. The Forward describes.

The Forward hails the EU for showing that, while we Americans were mired in conflict and high defense budgets, the nations of Europe "decided to look their ancient enemies in the eyes and face them down not with guns and barbed wire but with commerce, open borders and, ultimately, union." What have we benighted Americans been doing all this time? According to the Forward, . "We've worked hard to keep our eyes cocked, our powder dry and our children properly terrified. our study of history has taught us that nothing leads so quickly to disaster as a strategy built on the better nature of humankind."

The reality is that Europe's enemies, after the collapse of the Axis at the end of World War II, has not been other European nations, but the Soviet Union, which absorbed and heartlessly and murderously ruled half Europe's former territory for two generations. Any progress that Europe has been able to make from 1945 to 1989 has been thanks to NATO, to NATO's primary source of strength, the U.S. defense forces, and to us benighted, selfish American taxpayers who paid out a much larger share of our national wealth than did any European nation to keep Europe's frontiers secure and its cities standing. Those who relied on the "better nature of mankind" - if they weren't crushed in the Gulag archipelago - were busy trying to undermine the efforts of the European majority and the U.S. to keep Europe free of more Soviet tanks.

The Forward says that while we Americans "weren't looking . . . the Europeans rebuilt their own civilization, relying on the reverse qualities [of our own]: maturity, prudence and mutual responsibility." But the mutual responsibility and prudence which enabled the European project was by far the product of American resolve, military strength, and political will.

The Forward hails the EU as a triumph of democracy - particularly in its embrace of what a straw-man American would describe as "the folly of trusting others." This is a particularly sad fantasy, since the EU project has been characterized by a determined evasion of the necessity to trust others - if those others are the citizen-electors of the countries now hurdling towards unity. At no time has this 'democratic' project sought to obtain the consent of those it governs and wills to govern. The successive steps towards European union have been taken without any democratic action at all.

And the EU is now engaged in creating a body of laws, a police force, a currency, -- all without any mechanism through which the voters can control it. The EU depends on a determined disenfranchisement of its citizens. European national government all answer to their voters - the EU bureaucracy and executive answers to no one. Should the European "ideal" ever be realized, it will mean the extinction of the ability of the majority of any single nation to choose how it will run its own laws, economy, or foreign policy.

The Forward also declares that the U.S. makes "a fetish out of sovereignty and unilateral prerogative" - but the superior Europeans "aspire towards common action." We've seen what this "common action" means in practice since September 11. The EU countries have acted in common - not to act at all. Only in the last few weeks have the first EU military units been capable of deploying in Afghanistan. The entire joyful liberation of the Afghani people, and the destruction of so much of the terror network, has been enabled by the U.S.'s ability to act as a sovereign nation capable of defending its citizens.

But - as my great-grandfather used to say - what does this mean for the Jews? So what if the Europeans want to throw away their individual freedom, their rights to self-determination, and their ability to govern themselves?

This is what. First of all, the "European" ideal is inherently hostile to the ideal of national self-government. In fact, one might regard the fate of the Jews in Europe and Asia over the last two millennia as a test of the European, stateless idea. The European Jews were the first "European" citizens - and again and again we have found that without a state, without the ability to control our own fate as a nation, we suffered constant murderous prosecution. The European "Ideal" is inherently and structurally hostile to the idea of the state of Israel as a Jewish nation.

The Forward may not agree with this argument. But it might have mentioned that the EU is not only theoretically opposed to Israel - but in real life the EU has been one of the most reliably hostile enemies that Israel has ever had in the West. Again and again, the EU has condemned Israel for self-defense and apologized for the terrorist acts committed against its citizens. The EU has done more than any other Western government to delegitimize what the French ambassador to Britain calls 'that shitty little country."

Should the extreme federalists who now control the EU succeed in their program, the EU will become a tragedy for Europeans who will surrender their rights of self-determination. The Forward's endorsement of the EU's ideals - for no better reason than that they resemble the McGovern agenda, and ignoring its theoretical and practical hostility to the Jewish state, its eagerness to deny the right of self-defense to a beleaguered nation - well, it's merely a disgrace.

Sam Schulman Archives


JWR contributor Sam Schulman is a New York writer whose work appears in New York Press, the Spectator (London), and elsewhere, and was formerly publisher of Wigwag and a professor of English at Boston University.You may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2000 by Sam Schulman