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Saturday, November 01, 2003

Wiesenthal Center 'outraged' by poll calling Israel a threat


By Amiram Barkat. Haaretz Correspondent and AP


The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called for excluding the European Union from Israel-Palestinian peace talks after reports of a new poll showing many Europeans consider Israel the top threat to world peace.

The organization said it was outraged at published reports that 59 percent of 7,500 Europeans surveyed called Israel a larger threat to world peace than North Korea or Iran.

Wiesenthal Center dean Rabbi Marvin Hier said the result "defies logic and is a racist flight of fantasy that only shows that anti-Semitism is deeply embedded within European society, more than any other period since the end of World War II."

The survey, first reported by the Spanish newspaper El Pais, has not yet been released. Its main result was reported Friday by the International Herald-Tribune, which cited a source at the European Commission. Full results are to be released by the European Commission tomorrow.

"This poll is an indication that Europeans have bought in, 'hook, line and sinker,' to the vilification and demonization campaign directed against the State of Israel and her supporters by European leaders and media," Hier said in the statement posted on the Wiesenthal Center Web site.

He said that if the reports are accurate, "Israel should draw the only conclusion possible - that the European Union and its members should play no role in any future peace process."

The Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center also asked supporters to sign an Internet petition to European Commission President Romano Prodi saying Europe's "blatant bias" disqualifies it from peace talks.

Minister Natan Sharansky, responsible for the Diaspora and Jerusalem affairs, said Saturday that the poll results prove anti-Semitism lurks behind European political criticism on Israel.

"Just like in the past when the Jew was blamed for all the problems of the world, the 'enlightened' world today uses that same claim about the Jewish state. The European Union must work to stop the demonization of Israel before Europe deteriorates back to its dark past."

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