The worst of us

“Plus royaliste que le Roi” is a French expression defining a person or a group of persons trying their best to emulate a social reference they respect and admire, as a consequence their actions tend to be overly zealous and their thinking less critical. The 20th century has provided Europe with a great amount of examples showing just how dangerous this category of persons may be.

In the 1930s and 1940s militias and governments have, at times outdone Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy’s requests in tragic attempts to gain their graces. It wasn’t unusual that the French government in Vichy, the Hungarian Arrow Cross or the Rumanian President Antonescu would adopt gruesome anti-Semitic policies and precede Hitler’s in his own “aspirations” regarding the extermination process in Europe.

The same situation occurred with the growth of extra-parliamentary communist movements, particularly where armed group motivated by Leninist ideals waged a terror campaign in the 1970’s with the goal of overthrowing the republican system.

These points are extremely relevant as they highlight an inherent tendency inside the European political ethos: the need by national radical groups to make an external violent ideology their own and emulate it as so to appear as close as possible to its original creators. This trend is especially visible in period lacking of political innovation and the defined by the stagnation of moral values.

The recent 8-days campaign led by the Israeli Defense Forces against the Hamas terrorist war making capabilities have been instrumental in underlying once more and in proving this fact, a certain part of the European political sphere and civil society have excelled in the art of being “plus royaliste que le Roi”, leading a relentless anti-Israeli campaign. Left-wing and self-styled humanitarian organizations have been harboring a quasi-fanatic attachment to the Palestinian discourse.

The latest round of violence has been essential to highlight yet again how much certain parts of the European societies are ready to abandon free-thinking and enter into a delusional attachment to an idea they do not fully comprehend. How could it be explained that groups of people who are one day supporting the cause of same-sex marriage and women rights in Europe are ready to blindly define Hamas as freedom fighters engaged in a noble quest for national liberation? This may easily be understood: such organizations harbor so much hate, may it be overt or covert, against Israel that they are ready to overlook the fact that they are supporting and legitimizing a backward and authoritarian terrorist regime.

Such a mentality, which has been rapidly gaining ground, exposes the worst part of us, Europeans; an underlying counter-force to progress and freedom that has endangered the continent and its inhabitants for the last two centuries. This dangerous conduct has produced dull masses ready to accept silently, if not eagerly participating, at the Shoah, masses which are now unable to morally rise against a terrorist discourse. This worst part of the European socio-political ethos may today be defined by the 3 following characteristics.

The normalization of post-modern anti-Semitism finding fertile ground in a general feeling of detachment with the horrors of the Shoah is the first point to address. During the Gaza operations, the number of anti-Semitic comments rose exponentially and these interjections are in a certain way accepted by the general population. “If only Hitler had finished the job, there wouldn’t be a war” read a status on a university-related page on Facebook. This statement was one among many others, either equating Israel’s policies to those of Nazi Germany or attempting to give some kind of legitimacy to the “final solution”. This trend relegates the memory of the worse crime ever committed by the Europeans as simply a detail in History, something that can be compared and relativized, something you can make fun of and eventually forget. As the younger generation is getting used to an increasingly anti-Semite discourse, only denounced by some detached legislations and minority-driven associations, the risk is that the extermination of Jews in Europe by the Nazis and their allies could become something banal, thus pushing the public to no longer condemn those actors, such as Hamas and Iran, having an active policy aimed at negating this part of global history.

The second characteristic of this deconstruction of European critical thinking goes through an “Israel deserves it” feeling. The average citizen of a European country is unable to fully appreciate the risk paused by terrorist attacks on the soil of the Jewish State and thus fully falls into the “occupation” discourse. With a number of associations focusing especially on portraying the Palestinians as highly martyrized communities, the message has been pounding the European intellect thus blocking any possibility to objectively analyze the situation. In regard to the normalization of post-modern anti-Semitism, this sentiment leads to an unspoken conclusion: European masses will support Israel only when “enough” Jews die, only when the suffering is so apparent that it can no longer be ignored, only when in the perverted mind of those who are today tacitly supporting Hamas, Israel will have redeemed is original sin by the blood of its citizens. Without such a catastrophe, the worst part of European societies comfortable within its wall of lies isn’t able to fully appreciate the extent to which suicidal and random terrorism shares the same general values which destroyed Europe 70 Years ago.

This situation is the result of a third pillar which is essential to the existence and the persistence of the previous two: unimaginative and highly biased journalism creating a general comfort zone for the uninformed populations leading them to consistently believe in  what at best may be coined as propaganda. The 8-days crisis has shown how much news outlets are unable or unwilling to deliver a fair and direct message. With the majority of reporters based in Gaza and showing only one side of the story, with pictures of slaughtered children taken from the civil war in Syria widely commented as “victims of Israeli attacks” and with the number of speakers present on stage proposing an analysis which subtly paints a pro-Palestinian / anti-Israeli situation, the overall public is left with nothing else but the acceptance of a message that can easily be a trait of the darkest ages of European thinking.

Without questioning the democratic right to argue and contradict certain policies, the reasoning over the European attitude toward Israel should focus on deconstructing irrational discourses and challenging ideas which aren’t based on reasoned debates. The risk for Europeans, may they be Jews, Christians or Muslims, is that while abandoning critical thinking, European societies fall back into an age of intellectual dullness where the banalization of evil leads to the unquestioned support of entities which are radically opposed to any social value or political interest of European states.

About the Author
Riccardo Dugulin is an independant international affairs analyst. He holds a Master in International Security from the Paris School of International Affairs (Sciences Po) and has worked in leading think tanks in Washington DC, Beirut and Dubai and has held the position of security coordinator for a security assistance firm.