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Rome embraces Jerusalem (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By URI DAN 11/20/03)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1069224479974&p=1006953079865 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
´If something were to happen to Israel, this would affect the lives of Jews throughout the world," I heard Prime Minister Ariel Sharon say this week in Rome to leaders of Italian Jewry. Sharon made two points:

"As far as the security of Israel and its citizens is concerned, I won´t agree to any compromise, even though I´m prepared to make painful concessions in order to achieve a political solution."

He then said to the Jews who filled the hall: "You must emigrate to Israel. I regard as first priority the aliya of another million Jews." Sharon encountered a warm Italian response, not only among Jews but also from his friend Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"Italy is Israel´s greatest friend in the European Union," remarked Sharon.

The forthcoming visit to Jerusalem by Deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini will further emphasize this. Fini supports the construction of the security fence and the war against Palestinian terror.

But there are dark clouds on the horizon. In the very same European countries where Jews were loaded off to the death camps, a wave of anti-Semitism has appeared, the like of which has not been seen since Hitler´s Germany.

A fifth of Italians questioned in a poll declared that Israel should disappear. This poll was initiated by the European Union, and its results were deliberately leaked. Still, the poll indicates that Europeans regard Israel as "the most dangerous country."

Those who comfort themselves by saying that this Jew-hatred is caused by Sharon´s policies are merely deluding themselves and deceiving the public. It is akin to embracing Josef Goebbels´s claim that anti- Semitism resulted from Jewish domination of the world economy or, alternatively, of world communism.

Jews in Israel or abroad who embrace the view that the current wave of European anti-Semitism is caused by Israel´s failure to make concessions to Palestinian terror are off target.

The current tragedy results exclusively from the fact that the Palestinian leadership headed by Yasser Arafat believes that a terrorist war and political subterfuge will enable the PLO to achieve the destruction of the Jewish state.

The Palestinians are not seeking a real peace through President George W. Bush´s vision, or Prime Minister Sharon´s readiness to make concessions.

The Arafat offensive is supported by a wave of global Muslim terror which is striving to destroy democracy everywhere, from New York to Casablanca to Istanbul.

Muslim extremists, who invented suicide bombing, now engage in fomenting global anti-Semitism. They enjoy immunity in Europe and use their presence to fuel anti-Semitic bonfires in Paris and Berlin, Rome and the Hague.

An anti-Semitic pincer movement that includes anti-Jewish Christians and fanatical Muslims presents the greatest threat to the Jewish people since the establishment of Israel in 1948.

This threat puts to the test a no-longer-hypothetical question: Is Israel capable of guaranteeing its own security, as well as that of those Jewish communities in who wish to lead normal lives in the Diaspora?

Protecting Jewish security is Ariel Sharon´s real test. He has always declared, as he did this week in Rome: "I am first and foremost a Jew, and I bear the responsibility of the prime minister of the Jews."

Sharon always held this view. When he was commander of the paratroops in 1955 he used to address a rhetorical question to me regarding some event or another: "Is this good or bad for the Jews?"

It is obvious that it is good for the Jews if a country such as Italy stands alongside Sharon and Israel in the struggle against Muslim- Palestinian terror and attempts to halt the wave of European anti- Semitism.

When one recalls how the legions of Rome destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, this alliance between Rome and Jerusalem acquires special significance. Rome has learned a lesson from its long history, including the disgraceful Fascist era.

But now Rome is on the side of the Jews, together with Bush, Russia´s Vladimir Putin, and Britain´s Tony Blair. Ariel Sharon has succeeded in establishing exceptional human and strategic understanding with each of them.

If Sharon did not exist, it would have been necessary to invent him.

The writer is the Mideast correspondent of The New York Post. (© 1995-2003, The Jerusalem Post 11/20/03)

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