Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The EU Anti-Israel Guidelines May Pressure Israel, But Also Undermine The EU's Own Attempt At Creditibilty

With the upcoming European Union guidelines banning the financing of and cooperation with Israeli institutions in eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank and Golan Heights -- Jennifer Rubin writes that  Once again, it’s the E.U. vs. Israel
This is an old story for the European Union — it strives for relevance but its anti-Israeli tendencies make it particularly unsuited to play any constructive role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. EU-affiliated organizations back phony NGOs that operate in Israel for the purpose of delegitimizing the Jewish state. Government officials freely banter about anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic tropes.

We can chalk this situation up to the presence of growing Muslim populations in European countries and, one fears, the loss (or willful ignorance) of collective memories of the Holocaust. Since 1945, it has never been more popular or accepted in Europe to attack the Jewish state (utilizing a standard that applies to Israel alone). More than sixty-five years since the end of World War II and the slaughter of millions of European Jews, it is now all the rage among now-enfeebled European powers to exclude Israelis from cultural and intellectual gatherings.
In creating these guidelines, the EU may have unwittingly opened a whole can of worms.

As Missing Peace notes, New EU directive about Israeli settlements raises serious questions

Nevet Brasker of the Broader View Resource Center asked the EU the following questions
  • Does the latest European initiative mean that the EU has abandoned, officially or de facto, the Middle East Quartet effort? Borders were supposed to be a “final status” issue under the Quartet Roadmap, and last we heard—granted, it’s been a couple of years—Tony Blair, the Quartet envoy, was seeking proposals for border arrangements. Has the EU now explicitly abandoned this effort and unilaterally determined the borders of Israel?

  • According to the report, a Jew living in Hebron is not eligible for some prize or scholarship, but an Arab living in Hebron is eligible. Is this sort of anti-Semitic discrimination legal under the EU and individual countries’ laws?

  • Is an Arab-owned organization or entity in the West Bank eligible for EU cooperation or funding? How about a Jewish-owned organization that employs non-Jews? An entity owned by both Jews and non-Jews? What exactly defines an organization or entity as Jewish or non-Jewish, or as eligible or not eligible? Its address? The ethnicity or religion of its owners, managers, or employees?

  • Does the EU have a similar directive for agreements with Turkey, regarding Turkey’s occupation of Northern Cyprus—which the EU also doesn’t recognize? Or do EU contracts specify sovereign borders only for Israel? If the latter, what is the legal or moral basis for the distinction or discrimination between the two?

  • Does this new EU directive apply funding for all organizations operating in the West Bank, including those—like B’Tselem—that oppose the Israeli occupation and work to change or undermine Israeli government policies—in accordance with EU policies? Is it what the American legal system calls a “viewpoint neutral” policy, or one that actively seeks to endorse one specific political position and censor another—within a (democratic) third country?
Another question of course is why the EU has decided to focus on the territories disputed between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs while remaining silent about:
  • Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara
  • Russia’s occupation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia
  • China’s occupation of Tibet and Aksai Chin
  • India’s occupation of Arnuchal Pradesh and Kashmir
  • Armenia’s occupation of Nagorno Karabach
  • Turkey's occupation of Cyprus
Both the wisdom and the timing of the EU's decision, which became public on Tisha B'Av, are called into question.

It is only natural that with the problems various member countries in the EU are having, that the EU would seek an opportunity to portray itself as an important force in world affairs.

Unfortunately, it has only succeeded in emphasizing the very lack of wisdom that has been plaguing it over the years.Thus the Jewish Press's Stephen Leavitt describes How the EU Will Reverse Itself, in Three Easy Steps
The EU is in bad shape. It has economic problems, social problems, and credibility problems.

With its most recent action, the EU overplayed its hand, not considering the backlash the decision could cause.

Some responses Israel may choose would hurt the EU quite a bit.
In short, Leavitt suggests:
  • Israel should declare—something Prime Minister Netanyahu was hinting at in his Tuesday night statement—that the EU and all its member states will no longer be considered honest brokers, and no Israeli official will meet with them on any issue related to the Peace Process.

  • As the EU’s declaration makes it clear that they will now only be financially supporting NGOs on the far left, Israel must make it clear that any NGOs receiving EU funding are de facto foreign agents. These NGOs fund raising will be curtailed, their access to Israeli government officials would be restricted, and their entry into the Knesset will be forbidden.

  • Israel should approach private, patriotic wealthy Jews — Sheldon Adelson, who put his money where his mouth was this past U.S. election, comes to mind — to pick up the slack. In return, those who invest in Israeli research will reap the benefits in royalties, shared patent ownership and so on. They could stand to make a lot of money.
Read the whole thing.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton marking the V sign for Victory
with a chicken leg, standing next to former Palestinian prime minister
Salam Fayyad, January 6, 2011. Credit: Jewish Press

While the action they have taken will put pressure on Israel, the EU may find that it has further undermined its own credibility.

Hat tip: Honest Reporting Israel Daily News Stream
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