The Therapy Sessions
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Myth and Reality in Europe by Bret Stephens:
In the spring of 2003, I was invited to meet a high-ranking European diplomat who was visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories on a fact-finding trip. I was then the editor of the Jerusalem Post, and the diplomat wanted to hear what representatives of 'civil society' had to say about the intifada. I argued that the violence was of Yasser Arafat's making and would not go away until he did. In reply, the diplomat observed that Israelis and Palestinians alike could benefit from the example of France and Germany, which after centuries of conflict had wisely agreed to set differences aside and embark on a path of harmonious collaboration, the result being the European Union.
The soft nostrums of European diplomacy are always hard to take, especially when the people to whom they are offered are being blown up daily. But what struck me most about the diplomat's exhortation was his evident sincerity. He really seemed to believe that the EU was the product of some kind of spontaneous moment of enlightened European statesmanship, which by pure chance occurred sometime in the late 1940s, rather than of Germany's annihilation as a military power, American dominance in Western Europe and the Soviet menace. And it was through this prism of a mythologized past that he had come to the Middle East to offer his prescriptions for peace.