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The cover story of the latest issue of The Economist deals with "the rift between America and its allies over Israel". The allies of America are the countries of Western Europe that oppose U.S. support for Israel's war against Palestinian terror.

Why is it that the U.S. government and the majority of the American people exhibit a sympathetic understanding for Israel's predicament as it battles the terror Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat unleashed on the people of Israel 18 months ago, while the governments of Western Europe compete with each other in support for Arafat and condemnations of Israel? For that matter, why is it that the same West European governments consistently oppose the plans of President George W. Bush to take action against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's efforts to acquire non-conventional weapons?

The underlying reason why the United States and Western Europe frequently disagree on matters of policy is that ever since the American Revolution, the United States has been a nation guided primarily by moral principles, while the countries of Western Europe have, in general, preferred commercial interests.

With the exception of Britain under Winston Churchill during World War II, expediency and appeasement have characterized the positions of the leaders of Western Europe over the years. It was by no accident that most of Europe ended up in Hitler's camp during the war, or that the Jews of Europe found themselves abandoned during the Holocaust.

Feelings of shame, or perhaps even guilt, stilled the latent anti-Semitism among the European nations during the years after the war. Now it seems to be coming out in full bloom - sometimes in the form of ferocious attacks against the State of Israel and its leadership; while at other times, it is the sentiment that is just plain anti-Semitic.

Jean-Marie Le Pen appearing as a presidential candidate in the second round of the elections in France may be a fault of the curious French political system; but the fact that he and his ideological ally, Bruno Megret, shared almost 20 percent of the votes cast in the first round should not be ignored.

European charges that Israel is using immoral and illegal methods in its fight against Palestinian terrorism reek of hypocrisy. Anyone reading the recently-published book by French General Paul Aussaresses, "Services Speciaux Algerie 1955-1957," can only come to the conclusion that in relation to the actions of the French intelligence services during the war in Algeria, the Israeli security services seem like a welfare organization. The Belgians, who are leading the charge against Israel in Europe, still have much to answer for with regard to their share of the responsibility for the genocide in Rwanda. The tactics used by NATO aircraft during the recent fighting in Serbia and Kosovo seem to have taken to the limit concern for the safety of NATO aircrews and disregard for civilian casualties resulting from high-altitude bombardment of ground targets.

The election of Syria as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council serves as an almost obscene example of such hypocrisy. Syria, which, with good reason, appears on the U.S. list of terrorist states, and which, at the present time, assists Hezbollah in its belligerent activities on Israel's northern border, was elected to the UN Security Council on October 8, 2001. Syria won the support of 160 UN member-nations in a secret vote in the General Assembly. There is good reason to believe that this support must have included a number of Western European nations. In June, we will be treated to the spectacle of the Syrian delegate assuming the chairmanship of the Security Council. Under such circumstances, it is difficult to expect that the investigation initiated by the UN Security Council into the Israel Defense Forces' anti-terrorist operation in Jenin will be handled in an objective manner.

The investigation itself is a sham. What happened in Jenin is quite clear. The Palestinian terrorists decided to confront the IDF in the Jenin refugee camp, knowing full well, and caring less, that such action would result in casualties to the non-combatant population of the camp and to extensive property damage. Rather than using the air force to pulverize the area, the IDF entered the camp with infantry units, suffering substantial casualties in the ensuing fighting. The accusations of a massacre are an outright lie, apparent to all reporters who have visited the area.

But the chance to blacken Israel with this false accusation is too good an opportunity to be passed up by Israel-bashers. All thought of morality has been left behind, by politicians insisting that their only concern is for moral principles.