During the recent round of fighting, Slovenia, Austria, and the Czech Republic all flew Israeli flags from important government buildings as a sign of solidarity. And such sentiments were not limited to Jerusalem’s emerging Central European allies: Western European governments, which normally trip over themselves to express their “deep concern” over Israel’s actions, or to issue disingenuous calls for both sides to stop the violence, were unusually silent. Germany’s Angela Merkel even expressed frank support for the Jewish state. Benjamin Haddad sees many economic and geopolitical factors at work, including the Abraham Accords, but also something deeper:
Facing terror attacks in the last few years, Europeans have increasingly [seen] Israel as a country facing similar challenges, the canary in the coalmine for European democracies.
For the [European Union], the disasters of World War II called for cooperation [and for] technocratic governance transcending the ills of the nation-state. For Jerusalem, the tragic fate of Jews in Europe urged them to overcome their historic powerlessness and build a strong nation supported by . . . a powerful army. As they integrated the continent, Europeans increasingly viewed their successful model as the shape of things to come for the rest of the world. . . . And what better place to apply the European model of reconciliation than [to the Israel-Palestinian conflict]?
But things did not turn out this way. Fifteen years ago, it was commonplace for observers to forewarn growing Israeli diplomatic isolation if it failed to find a sustainable and peaceful solution to the Palestinian issue. These predictions did not come to pass. With Europe and the United States, of course, but also with new partnerships in India, Russia, and Africa, Israel has more economic and diplomatic partners than it ever had. Meanwhile, . . . Europeans are questioning their model. . . . Maybe the sense of history is tilting toward Jerusalem, after all?