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Israel finds a defender in Denmark (JERUSALEM POST) By HERB KEINON 02/03/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1107314592308 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Since Denmark has only a tiny Jewish community, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen can´t be accused of pandering to the Jewish vote when he launched a spirited defense of Israel on the campaign stump earlier this week.

During an appearance at the University of Aarhus, Rasmussen was challenged over his support for the US and asked why Iraq was attacked for violating UN Security Council resolutions while Israel was able to do so with impunity.

Rasmussen, whose country began a two-year rotating stint on the Security Council on January 1, said that whereas Israel was not completely implementing all the Security Council resolutions, "it is not run by a dictator without a conscience, and that is an essential difference."

"Moreover," he said, "Israel is surrounded by enemies that want to throw it into the sea, and we should recognize that it has a special history. Israel must use somewhat tough measures to defend itself."

Rasmussen´s comments were applauded in Jerusalem.

"Over the last few months we have seen signs of improvement in our relationship with Europe," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev. "It is good to see that of late we are seeing more positive statements from European leaders showing greater concern for Israel´s unique situation."

Rasmussen, head of a center-right coalition in Denmark that is pro- American, faces re-election on February 8, with polls showing he is comfortably leading the race.

Denmark has some 500 troops in Iraq.

Israeli diplomatic sources said they were not surprised by Rasmussen´s comment. "This type of comment is not extraordinary for him," one official said. "He is one of our more supportive prime ministers today in Europe."

This may be one of several reasons why the not inconsiderable Muslim community in Denmark is mobilizing to unseat him.

On Friday the AFP news agency reported that Rasmussen urged Muslim clerics to "stay out of politics" as a group of imams prepared to ask followers to vote for the opposition.

Twenty-five imams living in Denmark are expected to meet Wednesday to develop a strategy to help promote the opposing parties.

There are an estimated 170,000 Muslims in Denmark out of a population of 5.4 million, making Islam the country´s second largest religion. There are an estimated 6,500 Jews in Denmark. (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 02/03/05)

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