As Associated Press reported on November 24, “British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac… announced plans for a small rapid-reaction force of EU peacekeepers… Blair and Chirac said the European Union should be capable of dispatching a 1,500-strong force within 15 days to respond to a crisis.” The article continued: “The United States generally is supportive of the EU boosting its military brawn, but wants the Europeans to rely on NATO to plan and run operations. Washington is worried about plans, strongly advocated by France, to set up a separate planning and command headquarters for running military operations outside the NATO… Earlier this year, European defense ministers agreed to establish a 60,000-strong force that could be deployed within 60 days if the U.N. requested it.” The article quoted Timothy Garden of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, stating that the rapid-reaction force “showed a commitment to boosting Europe’s defense capability and would encourage other member states to bolster their military strength.”
As Der Spiegel Online reported on November 24, Israel’s Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, accused the Europeans of being inherently and collectively anti-Semitic. In an interview with EUpolitix.com, he stated: “What we are facing in Europe is an anti-Semitism that has always existed, and it really is not a new phenomenon.” According to Der Spiegel, Sharon also denied that one could distinguish between anti-Semitism and criticism of the Israeli government, stating, “There is no distinction today. We talk about collective anti-Semitism. The state of Israel is a Jewish state, and the positions against the state of Israel are accordingly.” He continued that Israel cannot afford to turn over their fate to the Europeans. He also said that the increasing number of Muslims in the EU certainly endangers the life of Jewish people.
On November 25, The Guardian quoted Yaron Ezrahi, an Israeli political scientist, as responding to Sharon’s remarks, as follows: “We should bear in mind that during the time of the peace process, when Rabin and Peres were leading, Israel was the favourite of the west… There was so much support from Europe and its public. Why was anti-Semitism so limited during the time Rabin and Peres led the peace process and gave the world the message that Israel was prepared to abandon the occupied territories? Sharon has a long record of calling Israeli critics of his policies traitors, and foreign critics anti-Semites. The left is concerned that Sharon’s policies are endangering Israel’s future by FUELLING VIRULENT AND VIOLENT ANTI-SEMITISM.”
SUPPORT FOR HOHMANN?
As Der Spiegel Online reported on November 25, more than “1000 CDU and CSU-members have signed a statement” to “critically support” Martin Hohmann. Hohmann had been stripped of his right to vote in parliament for the CDU, due to a controversial speech in October. The joint statement was published in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,” criticizing the party leaders of CDU and CSU (Angela Merkel and Sigmund Stoiber) for their conduct toward Hohmann. Similar ads had been published before in other daily newspapers. The most recent statement read that Hohmann’s speech was “partially problematic, but not anti-Semitic.” The statement included a quote from history professor Arnulf Baring, who had said on German TV: “Of course, his speech is problematic, but his expulsion is a poor witness for the CDU and for the liberal foundational understanding in this country.” The recent statement was initiated by Fritz Schenk, former moderator of a popular TV broadcast on German public television, the “ZDF-Magazin.”
SPAIN VS. UNITED STATES?
As Der Spiegel Online reported on November 25, the Spanish Government “had been one of the most supportive voices for Bush’s Iraq war. Now, foreign minister Ana Palacio admitted that the situation in Baghdad is worse than it was under Saddam Hussein.” The article continued: “According to Spanish press releases, the minister said that we have ‘a serious security problem in Baghdad.'” Spain’s Minister-President, Jose Maria Aznar, was quoted as stating that the alliance made “mistakes” after the war.
ATTACK ON FREE PRESS IN IRAQ?
As Associated Press reported on November 24, “the U.S.-appointed government raided the offices of Al-Arabiya television on Monday, banned its broadcasts from Iraq and threatened to imprison its journalists. Media groups said the action called into question the future of a free press in the country.” The article continued to explain that the station was banned from working in Iraq “for broadcasting an audiotape a week ago of a voice it said belonged to Saddam Hussein.” The Iraqi Governing Council declared, through its current council president, that “Al-Arabiya incites murder because it’s calling for killings through the voice of Saddam Hussein.”
The Council’s action was sharply criticized and condemned by numerous organizations and individuals, including the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ); the Paris-based media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RWB); and Josh Friedman, head of international programs at Columbia University’s School of Journalism in New York. They warned of “heavy-handed actions… toward the media that make us apprehensive about the future of free press freedoms in Iraq” (CPJ), and of “methods… that are contrary to the promise of setting up a democracy in Iraq” (RWB).
FUTURE OF EU CONSTITUTION
As www.thescotsman.co.uk reported on Tuesday, “Britain is preparing to abandon the European Union constitution if the differences between the 15 member states cannot be resolved.” The news release continued: “In an attempt to break the deadlock, Italy — which holds the EU presidency — is to present a compromise draft to foreign ministers at the end of this week.” In addition, the article pointed out: “Ian Davidson, the MP for Glasgow Pollok and chairman of Labour against the euro, was glad to hear that the British government was considering walking away from the proposed EU constitution. He said: ‘Since it was all about the creation of an EU superstate, I welcome the fact that Britain is prepared to walk away from something not in the national interest.'”
The proposed European constitution was also criticized again by the Catholic Church. As Zenit reported on November 20, the Catholic Church has been insisting that the future constitution “includes a reference to Europe’s Christian roots.” Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said: “The defense carried out by the Pope has, as its objective, the VERY IDENTITY OF EUROPE.” He also criticized the present wording of Article 51 of Title VII of the proposed constitution, as it might allow to “distinguish between sects, alternative religious movements, and deep-rooted Churches in Europe.”
OUTRAGE OVER BUSH REMARKS
As WorldNetDaily reported on November 24, “many Evangelical Christians in the U.S… are outraged over President George Bush’s statement [on Thursday, during a joint press conference in England with Tony Blair] that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.” The article continued: “Bush’s equivalence of the Judeo-Christian and Muslim gods brought reactions of shock and dismay from Christians in the U.S. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, was… saying the president ‘is simply mistaken… The Bible is clear in this: The one and true god is Jehovah, and his only begotten son is Jesus Christ.'” The article also quoted Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, as contradicting the president and as saying: “The Christian God encourages freedom, love, forgiveness, prosperity and health. The Muslim god appears to value the opposite.”