It is a familiar pattern. Whenever a terrorist commits an atrocity, his apologists start blaming society or, even worse, the victims. Hence, it was not surprising that after Mohamed Merah, a French jihadist of Algerian descent, killed a rabbi and three Jewish children in Toulouse last week, some immediately blamed the Jews.
Merah had cold-bloodedly videotaped how he chased an eight-year old girl across a school playground and murdered her with three bullets in the head, and how he executed Rabbi Sandler and his three- and six-year old sons. Even so, some did not hesitate to compare his acts to military operations of the Israeli army in Gaza.
That alone is shocking, but that the comparison was made by the head of foreign policy of the European Union makes matters even worse. And yet, one week after comparing the Jewish children that were intentionally murdered in Toulouse with young Palestinian victims of the Israeli army's defensive air strikes in Gaza, Catherine Ashton, the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is still in function. Not a single one of the 27 governments of the member states of the European Union is asking for her resignation.
Israeli politicians reacted with indignation to Ashton's comparison. Her remarks, however, are not surprising given her past as an activist who belonged to the "Blame the West first" crowd. Some people, when confronted with sociopathic behavior, collaborate with it or look for arguments to prove that it is actually not a symptom of emotional disorder, but an attempt to right a wrong which someone has committed.
The European Union is one of the most outspoken and frequent international critics of Israel. Last week, this column pointed out its frequent unfair and biased reports about Israel. As Israel is a Western country, it is hated by anti-Western elements in the EU who depict the Palestinians as permanent victims of Israeli aggression.
Americans do not seem to be aware of it, but people with an anti-Western past control more than one third of the EU's top positions. Catherine Ashton began her political career in the early 1980s when she was the treasurer of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the main British peacenik organization, which, according to former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, was on the Soviet Union's payroll. She apparently still subscribes to these discredited and potentially self-destructive policies -- evidently still as blind to totalitarian abuse of power as she was three decades ago. She is as unable to see the autocratic nature of Islam today as she was unable to see the autocratic nature of Communism then.
"Imagine," The Economist wrote in 2010 when Ashton was appointed to head the EU's foreign department, "a 1980s Europe where CND had triumphed, … surrendering to Kremlin pressure and propping up the evil empire. … Given the Soviet Union's history of mass murder, subversion, and deceit, it is astonishing that even tangential association with Soviet-backed causes in the past does not arouse … moral indignation."
No rigorous scrutiny of Ashton's remarks then; no rigorous scrutiny of Ashton's remarks last week.
Unfortunately, Ashton is not alone. Ten of the 27 members of the European Commission, the EU's executive, were on the side of repressive totalitarian rule during the Cold War. They were either Communist Party apparatchiks or anti-Western Marxist Socialists who considered the West as bad as the Soviet Union. Two of the current EU commissioners were members of the Soviet Communist Party (the Estonian Siim Kallas and the Latvian Andris Piebalgs), two were members of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party (the Czech Štefan Füle and the Slovak Maroš Šefcovič), one was a member of the Yugoslav Communist Party (the Slovenian Janez Potočnik), one was a member of the Greek Communist Party (Maria Damanaki), and one was a former member of the Portuguese Maoist Party (EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso). Two others were Marxist Social-Democrats close to the Communist Party (the Hungarian László Andor and the Spaniard Joaquín Almunia), and one, Catherine Ashton, was active in a Soviet sponsored "peace organization" attempting to prevent the West from defending itself against Soviet aggression.
Apart from a vain attempt by Gerard Batten, a British Member of the European Parliament, to block the appointment in 2010 of EU commissioners who "have been associated with oppressive regimes" or "have participated in non-democratic governments or political movements," no one seemed to mind that a third of the members of the European Commission are former collaborators of a regime that slaughtered 20 million of its own people under Josef Stalin. Today, Israel is paying the price for this lack of rigorous scrutiny on the part of the Europeans.
After Ashton was criticized by Israeli politicians for making the Toulouse-Gaza comparison, she expressed her "sadness at the distortion of my remarks." Instead of apologizing, she blamed her critics for "distorting" her message. Meanwhile, she manipulated the transcript of her remarks by adding to the online version of her speech a reference to Israeli children in Sderot who have been the victims of literally thousands of Palestinian rocket attacks. If thousand of rockets were to land, year after year, in the suburbs Brussels or Florence, what would you recommend the residents there do: reward the adversary by abandoning those cities? In any event, the previous online version of the transcript there was no reference to Sderot.
Confronted by the outspoken aspirations of Islam dynamically to expand, people such as Ashton and those who have appointed her show the same deluded blindness they showed three decades ago when confronted with the repressive nature of Communism.
While Ashton blamed Israel, Tariq Ramadan, professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, the so-called voice of moderate European Islam, blamed France. Ramadan wrote on his website that Merah had turned into a terrorist "after having been a citizen deprived of true dignity." Islam had nothing to do with it, Ramadan claims. France is to blame because "a substantial number of French citizens [of Islamic origin] are treated as second-class citizens."
Ramadan's article is another attempt to blame victims for the criminal activity perpetrated against them, this time in their capacity as French citizens rather than as Jews,. An Oxford professor writing such an article is an embarrassment and an insult to all members of the Oxford University community. It is, however, as before, unlikely that anyone at Oxford will complain about it.
Europe is in a state of denial about the transformative nature of its enemies. By refusing to recognize mental illness in its varied forms. -- whether attempts to ward off depression by means of aggression; paranoia, either innate or induced, or the excitement in physically harming oneself or others that is known as sado-masochism -- for what it is, Europe remains unable to protect its citizens.
Eighty years ago, the Europeans went through the same process. As Mark Twain said, "History never repeats itself, but it often rhymes." Once again -- just as they did during the Inquisition and the Third Reich -- the Europeans are failing, either from ignorance or the wish not-to-know, to confront the subject of emotional disorder, especially inflamed daily not only by ideological teachings that conspicuously seek to whip up hate, but also with the complicity of a European press increasingly reminiscent of Der Stürmer. Once again, the Europeans, for their own failure, are trying to make the Jews pay the price.