You gotta love that European Union. Always at the forefront of the drive for Mideast peace. So very concerned about the sources of malevolence and violence in the region.
But these do not include jihadis targeting Israel with missiles or the nuclear-mad ayatollahs in Iran. Such radicalism elicits mere tongue-clicking disapprovals in Brussels. The EU is much more fretful about heinous threats like Jewish families and businesses in Judea and Samaria.
That is the only possible way to interpret the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision this week to enforce labeling of products made over the Green Line as “settlement” goods that come from “occupied” territories.
Of course, no EU labeling has been applied to goods from other disputed territories around the world, from Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus to Nagorno-Karabach. Which makes the EU move discriminatory and delegitimizing, which are two of Natan Sharansky’s three pillars for identifying modern anti-Semitism (demarcations that also have been codified into the IHRA global definition of anti-Semitism).
It also approaches Sharansky’s third pillar: demonization of Israel. NGO Monitor president Prof. Gerald Steinberg says so explicitly. “For anti-Israel groups, product labeling is meant as a ‘gateway drug’ towards BDS and other forms of demonization. We have seen this at work in the short-lived Airbnb boycott, the targeting of Israel in FIFA, the proposed UN discriminatory blacklist, and elsewhere,” he said this week.
The ECJ-EU action came the same week that Iran resumed uranium enrichment at the Fordow underground nuclear plant, in violation of the JCPOA deal of which the Europeans are so fond. Brussels responded with mild prostrations of concern, along the lines of a polite ahem, guffaw or snort.
Then the UN Human Rights Council voted this week to laud Iran – no joke – for its human rights record, with 95 of 111 countries voting for this outrageous resolution, including many European countries. Only a few countries used their brief speaking time to apply real scrutiny to Tehran’s human rights record, and then they voted for glowing praise of the regime.
Also this week, reliable reports were published of massacres perpetrated on Kurdish men, women and children in Syria by Turkish-backed militias, armed by Ankara, which have swept into the zone abandoned by the U.S. Salman Rushdie, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Elena Ferrante, Robert Harris and other European literary figures called on the EU to act against Turkey’s war crimes, but nada. Other than a belated embargo on weapon shipments to Ankara, the EU has said and done little.
Christians also are being driven out or slaughtered with abandon in Syria. But have no fear, Christian Europe is right on top of things. It is tackling those dangerous Israeli settlers raising their children and developing their businesses in Judea and Samaria.
The Kurds – one of the oldest ethnic groups in the world – don’t have a state. Neither do the Tamils of Sri Lanka, the Uighurs and Tibetans of China, the Basques and Catalonians of Spain, the Chechens of Russia, or the Flemish of Belgium. However, thanks in part to the pressures of the sagacious EU, the Palestinians already have two states: A radical Islamic state in Gaza established by force against Israel’s will from which missiles continue to rain down on Israeli civilians; and an authoritarian state-on-paper in the West Bank recognized by many European countries and the UN against Israel’s will.
Both Palestinian states are more interested in tearing down Israel than in building a decent political culture of their own. But the EU isn’t so worried about that. (Nor does the EU truly care about the welfare of Palestinians. See: Sodastream). The EU worries mainly about the real “obstacle to peace:" Israeli people, good and services in the so-called “occupied territories.”
The EU continues to pour oodles of money into an economically and politically corrupt Palestinian Authority – well over $7 billion since Oslo, aside from funds contributed separately by individual EU countries and additional support for UNRWA. This includes everything from training and equipment for the PA’s thuggish mini-armies and police forces, salaries for more than 50,000 PA bureaucrats, antenna towers and studios for murderer-martyr-glorifying Palestinian TV stations, and millions of euros for PA textbooks which deny any ancient Jewish claim to Jerusalem and Israel.
And because PA budgets are super-fungible and slippery-liquid, EU support for the PA inevitably supports Mahmoud Abbas’ “pay-for-slay” scheme whereby terrorists and their families are rewarded for terrorism.
But again the EU is single-mindedly determined to put a stop to the real fonts of radicalism – like EU scholarships for Hebrew University students who live in Efrat or Maale Adumim. After all, these students and their professors (who might also, G-d forbid, live in the “occupied” Old City of Jerusalem), are the more salient threats to peace in the region.
The EU is perfectly happy to continue lavishing funds on the most anti-Israel “human rights” groups, including Al-Haq, Adallah, the Committee against House Demolitions, and an outfit called the Middle East Center for Legal and Economic Research, which has received hundreds of thousands of Euros “to identify and appraise Palestinian refugee real estate holdings in Israel.”
But EU commissars are determined not to indirectly fund any more scientific research or to abet productive commercial activity by Israelis who live or work over the Green Line. They won’t allow wine or plastic chairs produced in Judea and Samaria to be sold in Paris or Brussels without a yellow star of Jewish “occupation” opprobrium.
The EU is obviously pleased with the long distance toward “moderation” that the Palestinian Authority has traveled over the past 25 years. Europe is much less royally pleased with the distance traveled by Israeli governments, even though Israel has moved from rejecting Palestinian statehood to begging for it and offering to cede much of the West Bank and all of Gaza.
But in the warped weltanschauung of the European Union it is nevertheless logical to pressure and “label” Israel while coddling the Palestinians. Even while hundreds of missiles are being fired from Gaza into Israeli civilian neighborhoods.
Old habits, it seems, die hard. European countries have a historic knack for judging Jews, depriving Jews of scholarships, restricting Jews to specific pales of settlement, and tagging, branding and labeling them.
David M. Weinberg is vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies. His website is davidmweinberg.com.
This column is presented by Schottenstein Stores Corp.