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Israel’s Settlements and the Europeans: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Dec. 2.2012— Those looking for an explanation for why almost all of Europe backed the Palestinians in the recent vote to upgrade their status at the United Nations are blaming it on Israel’s decision to continue building homes in Jerusalem and its suburbs.
Did Israel Lose Europe?: Jonathan Schanzer, Benjamin Weinthal, Foreign Policy, Nov. 30, 2012— There was never much doubt that the U.N. General Assembly would overwhelmingly vote to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to the status of non-member state on Nov. 29. The big surprise of the event was that a number of key Western European countries did not join the United States and vote against the resolution.
Blind in One Eye: Galtung and the Toxic European Left: Robert S. Wistrich, Times of Israel, May 17, 2012— The dark spirit of anti-Western ressentiment and knee-jerk anti-Zionism that has come to characterize a growing sector of Europe’s intellectual left is no secret to seasoned observers of these cultural pathologies.
Knee-jerk Anti-Zionism: Tibor Krausz, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 28, 2012
Britain: EU Sanctions Against Israel not an Option: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post Dec. 4, 2012
The French Connection – To Anti-Semitism: Ari Lieberman, Front Page Magazine, Nov. 29, 2012
Where Would Hezbollah Be Without the EU?: Douglas Murray, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 8, 2012
Jonathan S. Tobin
Commentary, Dec. 2.2012
Those looking for an explanation for why almost all of Europe backed the Palestinians in the recent vote to upgrade their status at the United Nations are blaming it on Israel’s decision to continue building homes in Jerusalem and its suburbs. As reporter Laura Rozen put it in a tweet, “Does Israel really not get how fed up Europe is w/ its settlement policies?” The upshot of this sort of thinking is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fanatical devotion to “Greater Israel” is isolating Israel and forcing even its friends to abandon its cause in international forums.
The problem with this thesis is that it is pure bunk….[T]here are a lot of reasons why the Europeans stabbed the Israelis in the back at the UN, among which their objections to “settlements” is by no means inconsiderable. [However], if the Europeans believe that the 1967 lines with land swaps is the formula for peace, it’s hard to understand why they are upset with Israel building in places that everyone knows they would keep under such a plan. After all, does anyone who is actually interested in peace–as opposed to those who think every Jewish home anywhere in the country is an illegal settlement–actually think Israel will abandon 40-year-old Jerusalem neighborhoods or the suburbs that are close to the green line? Far from the Israelis pushing the limits in their quest for settlements, it is the Europeans who are redefining the terms of peace.
For Israel’s European critics, “Greater Israel” is no longer all of the West Bank, which even Netanyahu has conceded may be ceded for a real peace deal, nor even retention of an undivided Jerusalem. They are now acting as if any Israeli government that acts as if it is going to hold onto all of the Jewish areas of Jerusalem is a foe of peace. In doing so, they are not only distorting Israel’s position — which is still perfectly compatible with a two-state solution based on the ’67 lines with swaps — but also covering up or ignoring the fact that the Palestinians have refused Israeli offers of a state and now no longer even wish to negotiate.
The idea that the Europeans — save for the principled stand of the Czech Republic — have turned on the Israelis solely because of “settlements” is a misnomer. The tilt toward the Palestinians and against Israel is not a recent phenomenon, nor is it the product of Netanyahu’s tenure as prime minister. Virtually any act of Israeli self-defence is treated as impermissible. Nor can one understand the unwillingness of these governments to stand with Israel outside of a context in which anti-Zionism has become the orthodoxy of European intellectuals and the rising tide of anti-Semitism on the continent.
Moreover, the decision to back Mahmoud Abbas at the UN has just as much if not more to do with the hope that giving him a shot in the arm will undermine Hamas. This is a monumental misjudgment, since Abbas cannot hope to compete in the long run with the more violent Islamists who run what is already an independent Palestinian state in all but name.
Europeans who think isolating Israel in this manner will teach Netanyahu or the Israeli people a lesson are ignoring the realities of the conflict. Though they would divest themselves of almost all of the territories in exchange for an end to the conflict, the overwhelming majority of Israelis have no intention of allowing the West Bank to become another, more dangerous version of Gaza from which Islamist terrorists will launch missiles or terror attacks. A European demand for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines including a divided Jerusalem and the eviction of nearly half a million Jews from their homes to empower a Palestinian entity that won’t negotiate is antithetical to the idea of genuine peace.
Jonathan Schanzer, Benjamin Weinthal
Foreign Policy, November 30, 2012
There was never much doubt that the U.N. General Assembly would overwhelmingly vote to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to the status of non-member state on Nov. 29. The big surprise of the event was that a number of key Western European countries did not join the United States and vote against the resolution. The Czech Republic was the only European country to vote against the upgrade, and shockingly, the normally staunchly pro-Israeli governments of Germany and Britain decided to abstain. Does this mean that Israel has lost Europe?
Germany's surprising decision, in the eleventh hour, to shift from opposing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's bid to abstaining on it was reportedly tied to the question of Israel's ongoing construction of settlements in the West Bank — a recent source of contention in European capitals. Germany appears to have taken this opportunity to address the conflict on the world stage.
This decision was especially shocking to Israelis given Germany's historical relationship with the Jewish state. Chancellor Angela Merkel declared in a 2008 speech before the Knesset that she supported Israel's right to defend itself and that only the Israelis and Palestinians — without external interference — could negotiate a two-state solution.
"Every German chancellor before me has shouldered Germany's special historical responsibility for Israel's security," Merkel said then. "This historical responsibility is part of my country's raison d'être. For me as German chancellor, therefore, Israel's security will never be open to negotiation." The Federal Republic has based a large chunk of its devotion to Israel's security on the notion of Wiedergutmachung, or reparations for the German crimes against European Jewry during the Holocaust.
Although Germany likes to present itself as Israel's strongest ally in Europe, the relationship has often been shaky. Take the example of Christoph Heusgen, Merkel's national security advisor and Middle East point man, who in 2009 — a year after the chancellor's speech before the Knesset — sought to convince U.S. envoys to weaken Washington's opposition to the United Nations' Goldstone Report, which alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza during that year's Operation Cast Lead.
According to a WikiLeaked cable from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin at the time, Heusgen "thought [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu needed 'to do more' in order [to] bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table. With Palestinians in East Jerusalem getting notices from Israeli authorities that their houses will be destroyed, it would be 'suicide' for President Abbas to move under the current circumstances."
The cable continued: "Heusgen said he could not fathom why Netanyahu did not understand this. He suggested pressuring Netanyahu by linking favorable UNSC [U.N. Security Council] treatment of the Goldstone Report to Israel committing to a complete stop in settlement activity."
In 2010, Merkel and Netanyahu had a heated telephone exchange over the settlements issue, and the relationship further frayed over Germany's decision this year to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's representation in Berlin to that of a full diplomatic mission with an ambassador.
Germany's U.N. abstention on Nov. 29 may also have been driven by domestic calculations. Specifically, Merkel may inherit the Social Democratic Party (SPD) as a coalition partner in a new government in elections in late 2013. This month, SPD officials hosted representatives of Palestine's ruling Fatah party at the SPD's Berlin headquarters and published a joint declaration affirming a "strategic partnership" between the two parties.
Meanwhile, France's relations with Israel have been uneasy for more than a decade. Famously, in 2001, France's ambassador to Britain, Daniel Bernard, called Israel "that shitty little country." More recently, then-President Nicolas Sarkozy offended the Israelis with his famous hot-mic fiasco at the 2011 G-20 meeting, in which he told U.S. President Barack Obama he couldn't stand Netanyahu (and Obama concurred).
During Sarkozy's tenure, France was also a vocal proponent of upgrading the Palestinian status at UNESCO. When the Paris-based UNESCO granted the Palestinians member-state status, U.S. law compelled the Obama administration to withhold its $80 million annual contribution to the organization. Washington registered its displeasure with the move in no uncertain terms. As State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland stated, the vote was "regrettable, premature, and undermines our shared goal of a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East."
Sarkozy's successor, François Hollande, did not let the financial blow to this Paris-based organization get in the way of his support for the Palestinians at the United Nations. Hollande has made clear that the settlement issue is a priority for his government. "It erodes the building of trust between the sides and constitutes an obstacle to a just peace, based on a two-state solution," said France's Foreign Ministry in a statement this month.
In a late-October meeting with Netanyahu in Paris, Hollande said that the two countries had "divergences on occupation, which we want to see halted." Although Hollande has played his cards close to the vest, he announced this week that he would support Abbas's bid. His position against the Jewish state was particularly startling given the recent uptick in anti-Semitic violence that has rocked France in recent years, forcing Paris and Jerusalem to jointly deal with this disturbing trend.
With France pushing for Palestinian statehood and Germany largely sitting out the fight, other European governments soon cast their votes in favor of Abbas's bid too. According to one European diplomat well versed in Spain's foreign policy, Hollande capitalized on the weak Spanish economy to push Madrid to vote for the PLO's upgrade….Spain is [also] attempting to obtain a seat on the U.N. Security Council and that the vote may have been a way to court favor from Arab countries.
Israel could once count on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's staunch support, but this has given way to successor Mario Monti's cold shoulder. Monti's support for the Palestinian bid was an about-face from Italy's position when Abbas attempted a similar maneuver one year ago.
(As for the now-isolated Czechs, Prague's decision to veto the PLO's move came as no surprise. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has dubbed noble-born Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg the "Zionist prince" for his support during Operation Cast Lead.)
Israel's brief war against Hamas in Gaza this month may also have had an impact on EU decision-makers. Faced with the PLO's deepening irrelevance and the growing potency of Hamas and its Iranian military arsenal on Israel's southern border, Israeli officials say that the Europeans may have wanted to give the nonviolent Abbas a moment in the sun. In other words, they wished to demonstrate approval for bureaucratic and legal strategies over the brutal violence of Abbas's rivals in Gaza.
So, after the better part of a decade of diplomacy between PLO embassies and their host governments from Latin America to the Levant, Abbas won his diplomatic upgrade….
In fairness, Israel always faced an uphill battle in Europe, where Muslim populations are on the rise and pro-Palestinian sentiments continue to gain traction. From the EU's perspective, Israel's long-standing recalcitrance over settlements and the rise of Hamas probably made support for Abbas inevitable.
But for Netanyahu to find himself all alone, with only a reluctant partner in Washington and seven other countries by his side, must surely have come as a shock.
Robert S. Wistrich
Times of Israel, May 17, 2012
The dark spirit of anti-Western ressentiment and knee-jerk anti-Zionism that has come to characterize a growing sector of Europe’s intellectual left is no secret to seasoned observers of these cultural pathologies. The world-renowned 82-year-old Norwegian Professor Johan Galtung – who over fifty years ago founded Oslo’s International Peace Research Institute – is only the most recent prime exhibit of this syndrome.
Widely recognized as the “father” of international peace studies, Galtung has long execrated the United States as an imperialist nation of killers, exploiters and torturers, responsible for most of the world’s evils. The much-traveled white-haired professor, in many ways the embodiment of European elitist anti-Americanism, has more recently lavished his self-righteous indignation on Israel (the “little Satan,” as the Iranian Ayatollahs fondly call it), and seems to have enthusiastically embraced the notion of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy.
Among Galtung’s most recent claims has been the assertion that the massacre last summer in Norway of 77 young people by Anders Behring Breivik may have been ordered by the Israeli Mossad. He was even quoted as saying, “It will be interesting to read the [Norwegian] police report on Israel, during the trial.”
If that blood libel were not enough, he bizarrely linked Breivik’s murderous actions to the King David Hotel bombing of the British Administration’s nerve-center in Palestine by the Irgun in July 1946. The only vague connection between these two totally distinct events is that they both occurred on July 22. But for the distinguished “sociologist,” the link evidently lies in sinister Zionist-masonic machinations and an endemic terrorist blood-lust among Jews.
Galtung, an iconic figure in the Norwegian and international left, has not hesitated to recommend that we should all look again (more sympathetically) at ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” one of the most notorious anti-Semitic texts of the 20th century. Reading the ‘Protocols’ apparently makes Galtung think above all of Goldman Sachs, the giant international investment bank with an unmistakably Jewish name, and the long tentacles of “Jewish” finance-capital. In this context, he airily dismisses the notion that the ‘Protocols” were a concoction of Tsarist Russian anti-Semites. After all, how could mere forgers and Russian police agents possibly predict, over a century ago, what is supposedly happening before our very eyes!?
Galtung obviously regards the USA as the contemporary living embodiment of the “Protocols of Zion” scenario displayed in vivid Technicolor. “Six Jewish companies control 96% of the media,” he has written — including virtually all the major TV networks, film studios, publishers and top journalists. Even the non-Jewish media mogul Rupert Murdoch – a favorite target of anti-Semites worldwide – is on his list, since many of those who work for him are (according to the Norwegian professor) “fanatically pro-Israel.”
It is worth noting that a major source for these and other bigoted conspiracy-mongering assertions by Galtung is the deceased American neo-Nazi and white racist supremacist, William Pierce, founder of the “National Alliance.”
Galtung, who last week told Haaretz that he is open to all hypotheses on such questions, did not fail to imply that Jews had a historic responsibility for the pogromist assaults directed against them, since they had lent money in the past to indebted peasants; and, he added, even Auschwitz had two sides, since Jews in Weimar Germany allegedly held key positions — which meant that “anti-Semitism could have been predicted.” Ignorance, dogmatic obtuseness and sheer bigotry echo from these statements in a truly toxic mix.
Some Norwegian academics and fans of Galtung’s “peace studies” research have professed mild shock and bewilderment at this tissue of neo-Nazi, racist and anti-Semitic rubbish pouring out from the mouth of such a prominent and respected leftist guru. But this astonishment seems thoroughly misplaced…[T]here is a well-entrenched tradition of such anti-Jewish bigotry on the left from the beginnings of European Socialism until the present day.
Long before Galtung, many left-wing radicals embraced the grossly simplistic view that Jews were the driving-force behind Wall Street, the big banks, international finance-capital, global exploitation and predatory imperialism. Moreover, during the past 40 years it is leftist intellectuals who have often been the spearhead of fashionable “anti-Zionist” conspiracy theories and pernicious efforts to equate Israel with the evils of apartheid, racism, colonialism, fascism and even Nazism.
In the last decade we have, for example, seen a growing list of European and even American academics, artists and intellectuals (some of them Jewish and ex-Israeli) join this bandwagon….
Galtung cannot, unfortunately, be dismissed merely as one more senile bigot and ultra-leftist crank. The recipient of many university honors and prizes, his remarks inevitably attract attention and are only a slightly more extreme version of a proliferating European-wide sickness. A long-time admirer of Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Castro, Saddam Hussein and other “leftist” totalitarian tyrants, Professor Galtung’s “peace” orientation in the name of human rights has proven all-too-popular in Western as well as Third World academic circles. In the Arab-Islamic world he would, of course, be considered mainstream, even “moderate.”…
(Professor Robert S Wistrich is the director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
The French Connection – To Anti-Semitism: Ari Lieberman, Front Page Magazine, Nov. 29, 2012—When it comes to the Jews, the French have a long, checkered history of treachery. French anti-Semitism is well known and deeply embedded in French culture. It therefore comes as no surprise that France will likely be the first major Western power to recognize Palestinian statehood, according to a statement released by the French Foreign Ministry.
Where Would Hezbollah Be Without the EU?: Douglas Murray, Gatestone Institute, November 8, 2012—The EU has been here before. During the same period they came up with their false wall-of-separation within Hezbollah, they they did the same thing with Hamas. The fiction disappeared in Europe because it was no longer possible to allow a group to operate which blew up buses full of civilians.
Knee-jerk Anti-Zionism: Tibor Krausz, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 28, 2012—Karl Marx thought he had the Jews figured out. “What is the worldly religion of the Jew? – Huckstering. What is his worldly God? – Money,” the patron saint of communism opined in his 1844 polemic “On the Jewish Question.” He went on to lament the way Christians had fallen prey in their habits to the pecuniary obsessions of those greedy Semites.
Britain: EU Sanctions Against Israel not an Option: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 4, 2012—As country after country summoned their Israeli ambassadors in protest of settlement building plans, British Foreign Secretary William Hague clarified Tuesday that European sanctions against Israel were not an option.
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