Yet Europe's traditional position on the Arab dispute has been quietly changing: It is gravitating closer to a US-Israeli framing of a war on terror, a "clash of civilizations," with a subtext of concern about the rise of Islam – and away from an emphasis on core grievances of Palestinians, like the ongoing Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and "occupation."
Causes for the shift are complex and manifold, and in no small way associated with the rise of Muslim populations in Europe. But since Sept. 11, the discourse and psychology in Europe has shifted, with pro-Arab support "diluting and weakening," as Karim Bitar, with the International Institute of Strategic Relations in Paris, puts it – and converging with US-Israeli framing of a fight against terror.
"There is convergence on goals [terrorism] between Europe and the US, and a remnant of divergence on means [military logic]," argues the French intellectual Dominique Moisi. "The Europeans are less pro-Islamic Muslims now than before, after 9/11.
"We also see that even American Jews are not entirely at peace with what Israel is doing. There's more criticism of Israel than before, in American opinion; and in Europe there is less support of what the Arabs are."
In the Gaza conflict, "European diplomats see a crisis with no exit point," says a senior French scholar with extensive Mideast experience. "They think if the Israelis can put out Hamas and put in Abbas, that would be wonderful. They don't see Hamas as Palestinian nationals, but as Islamic."