EU Poll: U.S. Tied for Second in Biggest Threat to World Peace

jbone at jbone at
Thu Nov 6 10:22:42 PST 2003

...right alongside Iran and North Korea.


EU embarrassed as poll labels Israel world's biggest threat
Mon Nov 3,12:29 PM ET

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The European Union (news - web sites) scrambled to  
contain the fallout from a public opinion poll that -- to Israel's fury  
-- labelled the Jewish state the biggest threat to world peace.

The United States was just behind Israel in the global danger league,  
in joint second place with North Korea (news - web sites) and Iran,  
according to the "Eurobarometer" poll requested by the European  
Commission (news - web sites).

The results were part of a survey last month on Europeans' attitudes in  
the aftermath of the Iraq (news - web sites) war, which also found that  
more than two-thirds of EU citizens think that the US-led war was wrong.

The Israeli embassy in Brussels voiced outrage at the findings, which  
said that 59 percent of Europeans see Israel as a threat to world peace.

"Europeans seem blind to Israeli victims and suffering. Instead, they  
have put the Jewish state below the level of the worst pariah state and  
terror organizations," it said in a statement.

"We are not only sad but outraged. Not at European citizens, but at  
those who are responsible for forming public opinion," the embassy  

"Israel's desperate struggle for peace and security for its people has  
been distorted beyond recognition in often one-sided and emotionally  
charged media coverage."

The poll had already prompted angry reactions after details were leaked  
by the Spanish daily El Pais last week.

The Israeli ambassador to Italy -- which currently holds the EU  
presidency -- told the daily Il Messagero Monday that the poll could  
have significant diplomatic consequences.

"It seems to me that the only aim of this poll was to denigrate Israel  
at a very delicate time, and I think it will it much more difficult for  
Europe to fulfill its ambition to play a part in the peace process,"  
said Ehud Gol.

The EU's Italian presidency tried to play down the results, insisting  
they did not reflect the official EU position.

"The result of the survey, based on an ambiguous question, does not  
reflect the position of the European Union which has been voiced on  
numerous occasions," Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said in a  

"The EU is all the more annoyed since it is fully aware that the  
Israeli population is hit hard by terrorism," it said, criticising the  
"false signal" that the survey sent out.

According to the Eurobarometer poll, based on interviews with 500  
people in each of the 15 EU states, some 59 percent of Europeans  
replied "yes" when asked whether or not Israel presents a threat to  
peace in the world.

A total of 53 percent said Iran, North Korea and the United States pose  
a threat, followed by 52 percent for Iraq, 50 percent for Afghanistan  
(news - web sites) and 48 percent for Pakistan.

Countries lower down the list included Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia,  
China, India, Russia and Somalia. The EU itself was described as a  
threat by eight percent of respondents.

The EU survey was presented in the form of a list of 15 countries, from  
which some 7,515 respondents were asked to say which ones they thought  
pose a threat to world peace.

Commission spokesman Gerassimos Thomas was repeatedly asked why the  
Palestinian territories were not included, while for example the survey  
asked Europeans about the threat from Somalia. "It is not a country,"  
he replied when pressed over the Palestinians.

The European Commission said Israel's anger was "legitimate" but  
refused to get drawn into whether the poll findings were valid.

"I think the (Israeli) reaction was a very legitimate reaction," the  
spokesman for the EU's executive arm told reporters.

But he added: "It is not our task to interpret each and every survey.  
We don't place excessive emphasis on one poll result." 

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