Demonstration In Support Of Palestine In Times Square In New York, United States. Photo: TRT Spanish

Israel Versus Hamas: Polarization of Public Opinion and Veto Demonstrated in the Streets

In an effective summary on the subject, The Financial Times reports on the wave of Islamophobia throughout the European Continent. In London, anti-terrorists agents searched the home of an Anglo-Palestinian surgeon — who travelled to Gaza to care for civilians wounded in the bombings –, apparently for no justifiable reason.

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Francesco Pessi

ZENIT News – Oasis Center / Milan, 23.10.2023).- In addition to the complex international situation, European Governments have to confront the polarization of national public opinion caused by Hamas’ terrorist acts and Israel’s siege of Gaza. In particular, given the tense situation and the unconditional support given to Israel, some countries (France, Germany, Austria) have banned demonstrations of solidarity with Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, despite the fact that the latter (the largest was held in London according to The Guardian) were peaceful in the main.

The leitmotiv of the Western press is that the security alert (including the ban on demonstrations) is a direct consequence of the conflict underway. Apart from the two attacks in France and Belgium, which were not explicitly related to the conflict, during the week there were incidents of antisemitic violence in Berlin, where The Wall Street Journal reported on homes marked with the Star of David (“sinister echoes of the 30’s”) and paper bombs detonated in the Kahal Adass Jisroel Jewish Center, fortunately without causing victims. In an effective summary of the subject, The Financial Times reporteda wave of Islamophobia throughout the European Continent. In London, anti-terrorist agents searched the home of an Anglo-Palestinian surgeon — who travelled to Gaza to care for civilians wounded in the bombings –, apparently for no justifiable reason. In Regensburg (in the south of Germany), an extremist previously known to the Authorities, attempted to kill a Syrian youth by pushing him from a bridge. However, above all, is the brutal murder of a six-year-old boy in the United States, which has shaken European Muslim communities, according to their representatives interviewed by the newspaper.

In France, where the terrorist alert is very high the Conseil d’Etat ruled that the ban on protests will be evaluated case by case by the Prefects, as the “support of the Palestinian population” isn’t sufficient to preclude an incident. At the same time, “La Croix” reported that the Conseil rejected the appeal filed by the Palestine Action Committee against the order of the Ministers of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, to ban all demonstrations. “The Ministry was reminded of its right by the Council,” commented a member of the Committee. According to Camille Lons (European Council on Foreign Relations), the situation in Gaza runs the risk of polarizing even more a country that is already profoundly divided. Beyond the political front (the left wing of La France Insoumise refuses toacknowledge Hamas’s attacks as “terrorist,” while the right wing of the Rassemblement National has put itself emphatically on Israel’s side), the expert recalls that the trans-alpine country harbours six million Muslims (the majority French citizens) and Europe’s largest Jewish community. Although since the outbreak of the conflict, more than one hundred anti-Semitic gestures have been reported to the Authorities, up to now there have been no victims. In face of the growing Islamophobia, President Macron called on the French to distinguish between Hamas’ carnage and the Palestinian cause.

Several non-Western newspapers have also given considerable space to the repercussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Europe. The Jakarta Post, for example, points out the removal of the majority of Arab newspapers from Frankfurt’s International Book Fair, after the organization decided to postpone the awarding of the Prize to Palestinian writer Adania Shibli, following the outbreak of the war. The explicit position adopted by the Fair, which for this edition announced an extraordinary space dedicated to Jewish and Israeli authors, also triggered the withdrawal of Malaysia, motivated by the Ministry of Education given the Government’s position of full solidarity and support for the Palestinians.”

When reporting the news, “The New Arab” recalled Malaysians’ historical support of the Palestinian cause. During the week, the Pan-Arab newspaper was also one of the few that mentioned the neutral or pro-Palestine positions of some (few) European Governments. So, if Wales and Scotland refuse to raise the Israeli flag in their respective Parliaments to “show their solidarity with the suffering of the Palestinians and stress peace as the only solution,” in an interview with RTE national television, Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, although condemning Hamas’ gestures, accused Israel explicitly of violating international law by imposing the siege.

The Global Times, an English language Chinese newspaper, addressed the issue of European reactions to the ongoing war in the Near East, stressing the depth of the “racial division” and the “ethnic tensions”  in the Old Continent. Although it links the attentions in France and Belgium to the incandescent atmosphere created in Europe by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the newspaper considers the violence a result of a structural division within European societies. Hence, the urgent appeal is to “address and resolve first their own internal divisions, instead of evading the problem and fomenting the conflict in other places,” in reference to the clear position of the Governments on Israel’s side.


Translation of the Italian original into Spanish by ZENIT’s Editorial Director and, into English, by Virginia M. Forrester


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