Location of Toulouse, France
Nicolas Sarkozy, born-again animal-rights champion
Baroness Ashton of Upholland.
How do you translate “Open mouth, insert foot” into 27 different languages?
Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s right-wing, hawkish prime minister, was quick to seize on the remarks, condemning what he saw as an equation of “intentional massacre of children and an execution-style killing of an 8-year-old with the I.D.F.’s defensive and surgical actions meant to harm terrorists who use children as human shields.” Netanyahu was right to pick up on a disturbing undercurrent in Ashton’s remarks, whether intended or not. Progressive political opinion in Europe (Ashton is from the United Kingdom’s Labour Party) has shifted strongly toward sympathy with Palestine in the past couple decades, and this has nudged awake some dormant anti-Semitism in western Europe and dovetailed with not-so-dormant anti-Semitism in eastern Europe. Some European politicians, in a kind of diplomatic version of Tourette’s syndrome, just can’t stop themselves from casting every atrocity against Jews anywhere in the “context” of Israeli war crimes against Palestinians—with an unnerving “they’re asking for it” subtext. Some, sickeningly, even do this when talking about the Holocaust.
No one knows what the social and political repercussions of the shootings will eventually be. The vast majority of Europeans and Middle Easterners regard the crimes as horrifying, inexplicable, and an occasion for mourning, impotent anger, and sad reflection. But so far, of those who have grabbed the microphone to politicize this tragedy, no one looks good. No one.
[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas. Look for it in spring 2013. I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]