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July 27, 2006

On European Public Opinion

A column in Germany's Der Spiegel by political scientist Matthias K√ľntzel discusses European public opinion and the current crisis between Israel and Lebanon:

The natural reaction to the current violence in the Middle East is one of horror. It's time for a cease-fire, right? Not necessarily. Pacifism would only help the radicals.

When it comes to Israel, public opinion in Europe walks a fine line. Israel's overreaction and use of overwhelming force, say most, is to be condemned and criticized. But in the same breath, Hezbollah's provocation is likewise reviled and rejected as the militant group's unceasing attacks on Israeli civilians are cited. Both sides are judged using the same criteria and both sides come out stained with some blame for the current conflagration.

But this seemingly nuanced point of view is misleading. In reality, German and European public opinion does take sides -- and it tends to side with the apparent underdog and against Israel.

It has almost become a reflex on the Continent. In 2003, 59 percent of all Europeans pointed to Israel as the country presenting the greatest risk to world peace. On the third day of the current crisis, fully three quarters of all Germans polled were convinced that Israel was overreacting and using too much force in its response to Hezbollah. And since then, the images coming from the war zone have set the tenor: A cease-fire, most believe, should begin as soon as possible.

I disagree -- and have four reasons for doing so.

Read it all here.

Posted by GI at July 27, 2006 05:21 PM

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