Last Thursday at a conference sponsored by the Jerusalem Post, Danish Ambassador Jesper Vahr told the audience that Israel should insist that Europe hold it to higher standards because, he said, “you are one of us.”
Co-panelist Caroline Glick’s response, saying that he was insulting the Israeli intelligence, was well done and her evisceration of him was well deserved. You can view the exchange below. At least in the reported accounts of the event and in the clip available, however, her response focused on the propriety of the unique standard being applied by Europe to Israel, and not on his ludicrous statement that Israel is “one of us.”
Ambassador Vahr began his statement, ironically, by complaining about the “Europe-bashing” that he apparently was experiencing at the conference. When he said that Israel was “one of us,” the “us” he meant was clearly Europe. Such an assertion, that Israel is part of the cohort of European nations, could only be made by a person who has suffered a total break with any semblance of reality.
There are still people alive today who witnessed Europe’s burning of the Jews, people who escaped when Europe murdered a full two thirds of its Jews. Those that did survive did so by hiding in attics and tunnels and forests, or, like my grandparents, by fleeing to the communist Soviet Union. Vahr’s statement betrays a total amnesia of the events, not only of the 20th century, but of the entire history of the Jews of Europe, which was predominantly characterized by inquisition, expulsion, and pogrom. Vahr speaks as though he is seriously unaware that for almost as long as we lived there, the Jews of Europe were massacred and scapegoated, hunted and libeled.
Today, as Swedish MP Hillevi Larsson happily and ignorantly poses for a picture with a map of “Palestine” that erases Israel, as the Irish demand that no mention be made of the Jewish State during a Holocaust memorial, as a British MP stands on the floor of his Parliament and says that “you cannot appeal to the Israelis’ better nature, because they do not have one,” and as a cascade of European parliaments vote to recognize a Palestinian state that still refuses either to recognize or to make peace with a Jewish state, it certainly appears that European attitudes towards the Jews have not changed. Only a person suffering from a total delusion could claim that Israel is “one of us.”
This is not to deny the role that Denmark itself playing in rescuing Jews during the Holocaust. But Ambassador Vahr’s remarks made clear that he was speaking as a European, not as a Dane, and his words sound simply like a huge rationalization. It must give him some comfort to know, with such certainty, that Jews have recovered so well from the European assault on us, that we can now be called “one of them.” But as a person whose extended family was lost, in large part, to murderous Europeans, I can’t imagine a statement more callous, more cold, or more insulting than being told that Jews are “one of them.”