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For anyone who returned from Europe after a planned or chance human, social or business encounter, there was nothing new in the publication of the survey denouncing Israel as "the most dangerous to world peace." The harsh criticism of Israel and her actions, which deviate from universal norms, descended to the point of personal revulsion and even fundamental delegitimization as expressed in the blunt statement, written by an American intellectual, "Israel, in short, is an anachronism."

International legitimacy is an essential factor in the ethno-national conflict, which involves deep ideologies and emotions, and it is greatly troubling that this legitimacy is being undermined, and so attempts are being made to remove it through various means.

Everyone hastened to brush off the survey, to downplay its value, to question the credibility of the statistics, to express their indignation at the sloppiness of the wording of the questions and Israel's very inclusion in it. But there was no doubt that the survey reflects the mood of broad public opinion, and this time it is impossible to focus the blame on cynical leaders like the president of France, who for practical reasons makes no protest against anti-Semitic comments. This time it was the voice of the masses.

Just as there was nothing new in the findings of the survey, there was nothing new in Israel's reaction to its publication. "That's Europe, with its anti-Semitism," said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "Our anger is not toward Europe's citizens, but toward the governments," said the Foreign Ministry trying to direct the blame.

The public is incited by anti-Semitic governments, opines a perplexed establishment, which is under attack for its failure in explaining Israel's position and for disseminating "banal messages in poor English," causing Israel to lose the battle of public opinion.

The blame will always fall on the messenger, and never on the instigators and perpetrators of evil deeds. It is inevitable; Israel's actions, her image and her very existence will always be examined via the prism of thousands of years of intimate interaction between the Jewish people and its Christian persecutors in Europe.

This deep fallout also sharpens the European public's reactions to the daily images of the underdog who became the oppressor, as well as influences the special care with which European governments handle matters connected with Israel, and enables Israelis to activate their ancient defense mechanism, which turns any criticism or censure into an expression of anti-Semitism. The ability to rely on this defense mechanism enables Israelis to construct high defensive walls of self-righteousness, arrogance and pan-Jewish tribal rallying, separating themselves from the universal tenets that apply to the rest of the world.

The perception that through Jewish suffering and sacrifices, Israel acquired the right to define for herself and others the values regarding what is acceptable considering the threat to her existence, blurs the constant slide down the slope of evil. This self-defense mechanism increases the ability to relate to events separately from one another, without discerning the connection and the context that makes them into a whole picture.

There is seemingly no connection between the separation fence and the Shin Bet security services' supervision of the granting of press credentials, or the tempestuous reactions against the "Geneva Understandings" and the feeble reaction to the uprooting of olive trees belonging to Palestinians.

But all these events and many others (whose frequency has made them commonplace) combine to become one picture: Israel has acquired the status of a pariah state, whose definition as an apartheid state is not determined as such only because all concerned - and for contradictory reasons - insist on referring to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as "the occupied territories."

They thereby make it possible to adhere to the fallacy that the root of the evil is not in the ethno-national control of the Jewish collective, but rather temporary "military occupation," which is due to end in "withdrawal." This fallacy is supported by another, called "the Palestinian Authority," whose very existence is based on the need to present a state-like "external body," that externalizes the "Palestinian problem" and hints at "separation - we are here and they are there," which sort of makes Israel "democratic and Jewish" (or the opposite).

Even if this separation is not implemented - and in the meantime the apartheid wall, in the form of the "separation fence," continues to be built - it is not enough to dispel the delusion of many that "we are okay," albeit there are "some demographic problems in the future." The dangers are always relegated to "the future," and are never in the present.

The delusions, the self-righteousness, and the disassociation from a hostile world and the distancing from universal norms are symptoms of a society sinking into apartheid, as the South Africans who experienced that descent can attest.

The hiding behind anti-Semitism may make an impression on the Europeans, but it will not be long before the ostracism will penetrate the walls of self-righteousness and bring them crashing down.