Anti-Semitism and Israel Bashing? Must Be a European Parliament Paper
The European Parliament is much like the General Assembly of the United Nations: it was founded for symbolic rather than for pragmatic reasons; it costs taxpayers a lot of money (what we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly); its members “may not understand one another's speech (Genesis 11:7)”; its sessions are remarkably dull (while people around the world risk their lives in the fight for democracy, the European Parliament installs a working group whose task is to figure out ways to make debates “more interesting” in order to “improve attendance”); and it’s a well-oiled machine that spits out anti-Israel resolutions on a regular basis. Every few months, a couple of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) travel to Gaza; when they come back, they are shocked, appalled, and dismayed, and send letters of complaints to the Israeli government.
“The delegation was shocked by the ongoing deprivations suffered by the people in Gaza,” they wrote the last time. Not like home at all, huh? What went wrong? According to the travel program, the last delegation was accommodated in the Al Deira Hotel. From what can be seen on the hotel’s website, it’s a really nice one, and according to the guestbook, even Mia Farrow has spent some nights there. (You would certainly not ask her to recommend you a good movie, but as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, she can be trusted when it comes to hotels). Was it the food? That’s unlikely:
Al Deira’s restaurant and Sea Terrace is one of Gaza’s treasures, where locals and hotel guests can relax in a unique, elegant environment against a backdrop of blue sky and sparking sea. At night the twinkling lights of fishing boats spread like a pearl necklace along the horizon. Al Deira’s kitchen offers an excellent variety of local and Mediterranean dishes, specializing in fresh seafood prepared by expert chefs, presented with style. In the cool shade of large white umbrellas our visitors can enjoy a full meal, dishes prepared a la carte, or simply one of our divine fresh fruit juices.
Al Deira is a top-notch location, but the true reason why Gaza is called the new dining hotspot is the famous Roots Club. The European delegation went there, too. Did they agree with “Ahmed,” who wrote in the guestbook: “Very glad to see things in Gaza are not as bad as they say on TV”? No. While enjoying the Roots Club’s “diverse and approachable cuisine of superb meats, pasta and seafood,” the MEPs couldn’t help but notice that “schools are still denied building material.”
And that’s not even the truth: The Israeli government allows the transfer of building materials, but only if they're used for the construction of Olympic-sized swimming pools. Obviously, the Zionists want to turn the Gaza strip into the world’s biggest aquatic center. At the same time they prohibit the transfer of golf balls, and thus breed discord between Gaza’s swimmers and golfers. What a cynical game.
750,000 people continue to need food aid from UNRWA.
Maybe the Roots Club should ponder the expansion in its key market?
300,000 of them are in abject poverty.
If true, that would amount to 20 percent, just like in Egypt (where no UN-sponsored agency provides free food).
What the European MPs are basically asking Israel to do is to erect a Scandinavian welfare state in Gaza. They spent a lot of taxpayer money for a vacation in a luxury resort (one night in Al Deira costs 150 dollars; use of business facilities and wireless internet connection are charged extra), only to publish another anti-Israel statement that they could have written before they even left. But should we jump to conclusions and call them a bunch of hateful, misanthropic, hypocrite pricks?
Yes, exactly. The stated purpose of the visit:
To meet with the elected representatives of all political parties in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in order to assess the living conditions in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well to discuss the issue of reconciliation.
In other words, they shook hands with Hamas terrorists, supported their PR efforts to demonize Israel, and mediated between rival terrorist groups in order to help them to focus on the common enemy. Who are these not-so-innocent innocents abroad? They belong to the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council (DPLC), which was founded right after the first elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 1996. When Hamas won the elections in 2006, the DPLC had to decide whether to either dissolve itself or to turn into a Delegation for relations with Hamas. It chose the latter. The DPLC embraced its new brother in arms, and called upon the world to support the “union government.”
The DPLC is chaired by the Irish socialist Proinsias De Rossa (who also served the group as Gaza travel guide). When he was young and immature, he had to spend some time in jail because of his involvement in IRA terrorism. Fortunately, he grew up and understood that “the whole business of armed struggle and trying to force people in Northern Ireland to become part of the Republic was utter nonsense.” Today he is a respected member of the European Parliament, supports Hamas, praises Bashar Assad’s Syria for its “freedoms of varying degrees,” and calls for a “boycott of all Israeli goods and services, similar to that imposed on apartheid South Africa.”
The DPLC has 22 members and 20 substitutes. Interesting: Although 196 MEPs from Eastern European countries are sitting in the European Parliament, all the members of the DPLC come from the west. Not all of them are crazed Israel haters, but most of them are -- especially the chairman De Rossa, of course, and his vice, the Cypriot communist Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, whose biggest desire is to welcome Hamas terrorists in the EU headquarters.
How are the cards distributed between Israel’s friends in the European Parliament and its foes? “The problem is the socialist group which is 95 percent anti-Israel,” says Tomas Sandell, the founding director of European Coalition for Israel:
The Communists are 100 percent anti-Israel, and the Greens are just as bad. The Liberal group has only a few friends of Israel. The real friends are spread among the Christian democrats and the other right of center groups. Many MEPs are somewhere in the middle but easily manipulated over to the wrong side by media disinformation when it comes to the vote.
Hence, the institutions of the European Union have become a huge playground that offers Israel-haters a variety of toys to sate their palestinophile desires: They can ensure funding of anti-Semitic schoolbooks, anti-Israel NGOs and terror groups, and of course rant against Israel on a monthly basis. Every time a European delegation visits the country, it is awash with politicians who follow an anti-Israel agenda. This leads to the bizarre result that moderate politicians stay away from such activities, thus leaving the field to the loonies. “It looks like an anti-Israeli propaganda mission,” Italian MEP Gabriele Albertini, the head of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, said last year when explaining the reason for quitting an official trip to Israel. "Out of the 25 deputies who are to take part in the mission, there are fewer colleagues than the fingers on one hand whom you could define as pro-Israeli, or even neutral," he criticized.
Focused anti-Israel networking was also crucial in gathering support for the European Parliament's backing of the Goldstone Report, a decision that Hamas celebrated as a major PR victory. Says De Rossa:
It is important that we operate within the European Parliament itself. … In the recent debate on the Goldstone Report we quite successfully ensured that there was a majority in the Parliament for it.
Shortly thereafter, they rode another attack against the sovereignty of the Jewish state. On September 8, the European Parliament held a long debate about whether Israel should be allowed to increase transparency in its NGO sector (the relevance of this issue was highlighted last month when it was reported that the Dutch government unknowingly subsidizes the anti-Semitic website “Electronic Intifada”). When the European Parliament’s anti-Israel majority learned that their agencies disguised as “human rights” NGOs had to disclose who is funding them, it was immediately up in arms (here is the protocol of the debate).
NGOs dedicated to “bona fide human rights work” were “being intimidated and harassed,” it was said. Israel was compared with countries like Burma, Tunisia, and Rwanda; De Rossa called the bill “draconian and unbalanced” and warned that it “will have a bearing on our relationship.” The German deputy Franziska Brantner (Green Party) even suspected that “a lot of people in Israel” do “not necessarily like democracy or human rights.”
According to Gerald Steinberg, head of the Israeli not-for-profit organization NGO Monitor, “the whole debate was based on an earlier text of the draft bill and proposed amendments, as were many of the comments that were made by MEPs.” So they deliberately “chose to hold a debate based on an irrelevant early draft of the bill instead of turning directly to their political counterparts in the Knesset,” Steinberg told PJM. He added: “This discussion illustrates the wider political and ideological context of the EU-Israel relationship and the problems found therein.”
How right he is. The most applause went to the British Liberal Democrat Chris Davies, clearly one of the most anti-Semitic deputies in the European Parliament: Davies likes to call Israel a “thief” who “has his hands in the open desk and is stealing the contents”; “Europe’s governments should slam down the desk lid and crush the thief’s fingers,” he demands. In 2006, he had to resign as the party's leader in Europe after he had insulted a Jewish constituent. Here’s what he had to say in the chamber:
Mr. President, I refer to the letter from the Israeli Ambassador, Mr. Curiel, to the chair of our Human Rights Subcommittee … my eyes turned to one of the last paragraphs of his letter, where he expressed his resentment to any comparison being made between pluralistic Israeli civil society and some other countries. He uses these words: “Embarking on such a wrong path may lead us all to dwell on Europe’s own credentials past and present.” If that is not a reference to the Holocaust, I do not know what is.
If that were indeed true, the ambassador wouldn’t have said “past and present,” but Davies needs this weird interpretation for the sake of his argument:
The implications are clear: you Europeans do not have the right to criticise Israel because of your past. You have blood on your hands. I was not responsible for the actions of the Nazis. … I resent the idea that we have to turn a blind eye to Israel’s appalling behavior. … I resent the idea that we should be forced not to ask why a people which suffered so much in previous centuries should now inflict such suffering upon the Palestinian people today.
Let’s see what we have here: The straw-man argument that it’s forbidden to criticize Israel (suggesting the existence of a Zionist conspiracy that censors opinions); the perception that the Holocaust served educational purposes (known as “the Jews should know better” argument -- one of Davies' favorites); and the claim that Jews exploit the Holocaust for political goals. If that’s not classical anti-Semitism, I don’t know what it is.
What about his colleagues? One of the defining characteristics of anti-Semitism is the double-standard judgment. So I made a test: What do the thirteen MEPs who criticized Israel for its NGO draft think about the situation in Venezuela, a country where NGOs have been completely barred from outside funding, and where the outgoing National Assembly has given Chavez dictatorial powers?
Are the MEPs who compare Israel with Third World dictatorships as concerned about the recent developments in Venezuela? That’s what I asked them. Only one of them, the Christian Democrat Hans-Gert Pöttering, answered that he is indeed concerned. Nine MEPs didn’t answer at all. Two declared themselves not competent. The secretary of Ulrike Lunacek (Green party/Austria) writes: “Unfortunately, Mrs. Lunacek cannot provide information. As Rapporteur for Kosovo, her work is focused on the Western Balkans.”
These politicians in Brussels are really something. They can run sneering attacks against Israel, but when you ask them whether they are concerned about the dictatorship of Hugo Chávez, they can’t tell. It’s too difficult a question.
Versatile people like Mrs. Lunacek, who can give advice to Israeli lawmakers on how to write their laws, suddenly turn into one-trick ponies that know only Kosovo. It’s obvious: They are not in the democracy business, they are just in the anti-Israel business.
At least Chris Davies gave me an answer -- and he really takes the biscuit. It seems that he has finally understood what the Israeli ambassador was trying to tell him. Mr. Davies writes:
Hungary has introduced media laws which restrict the freedom of the press. Italy has a press largely owned by the prime minister. Corruption in Bulgaria and Romania is endemic. I could go on. Just at present I don't think the European Union is in a good state to preach about values to other nations until it can find a way of ensuring that its own member states respect those values.
He hit the bird right between the eyes: Europe should not preach about values to others. Isn’t that exactly what the Israeli ambassador supposedly tried to tell him? I should forward Davies’ response to Mr. Curiel. Maybe it could prove useful to him when Chris Davies and his pals start preaching again.