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Europe Agonistes

In transatlantic relations, nothing is potentially more divisive than the issue of Israel’s security. From that standpoint, in spite of a rapprochement between France and the United States, culminating in a joint UN resolution, the latest Middle East war is in reality widening and deepening the emotional gap that has existed between Europe and the US since the war in Iraq began.

What is unfolding in front of us can be seen as a real-life version of Luigi Pirandello’s play To Each His Own Truth. And, in all fairness, each side has its grains of truth.

For a majority of Americans, now more than ever, Israel is the first line of defense for the West against Iranian-led radical Islam, even if they disagree with the tactical choices made by Ehud Olmert’s government. This war, unlike the previous 1982 war in Lebanon, is for Americans not a war of choice but of necessity.

For a majority of Europeans, though they have absolutely no sympathy for radical Muslims, be they Sunni or Shia, Israel’s offensive against Hezbollah and its result, the destruction of Lebanon, are seen as self-defeating for Israel and as potentially detonating a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West. For, ultimately, a resolution of the conflict between Israel and its neighbors can be only political.