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Europe

European Press Review: A Figure of Hate

European editorialists focused their attention on the bombing of two synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday. Saturday's attacks have been linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terror network.

In France, the daily Le Figaro linked the bombings in Turkey to an arson attack that caused serious damage to a Jewish school in a Paris suburb over the weekend. It would be illusory to pretend the two are not connected, the paper said. "Criticism of Israel, which is justified now and then, is being combined with hate towards Jews," it went on to say. "Israel's right to exist is being imperceptibly called into question -- and not only in the Middle East."

Another French paper, Liberation, wrote that one can be murdered in the year 2003 simply because one is a Jew. "It can happen all around the Mediterranean, from Istanbul to Djerba or Casablanca. And it could also happen elsewhere as well. Attempts to explain this crime without apologizing for it within the context of the Palestinian conflict," the paper opines, "are analytically and morally wide of the mark."

The Tagesanzeiger in Geneva said the attack hit Turkey all the harder because the perpetrators didn't strike in the Kurdish southeast, but in its European heartland. "Turkey is a perfect figure of hate for Islamic extremists," the paper wrote. "It is still sufficiently pro-American, in spite of a rift with Washington before the Iraq war, and is the only Moslem nation to cultivate close political and military ties with Israel. But there will be no significant display of sympathy in Turkey for this act of terror. Jubilation, such as that which greets the shooting down of helicopters in Iraq, or the praise of the sort heaped on radical Palestinian suicide bombers, is unthinkable."

The Russian paper Isvestiya said the synagogue attacks could have far-reaching consequences for Turkey's future. "There are two options and both are depressing. The army could take control and rule the country with an iron fist. Then, democratization, as called for by the Turks themselves and the European Union, can be forgotten," the paper speculated. "The second option is apocalyptic. The army gives in to pressure from the EU and gives the government a free hand. All Islamists are allowed to leave jail out of love for democracy. They are forgiven everything including the attacks on the synagogues. Then in a few years time," Isvestiya predicted, "Turkey will not be governed by an Islamist with a human face such as [Turkish Prime Minister] Erdogan, but somebody who resembles top terrorist Osama bin Laden."