The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg removed Hamas from its list of terrorist organisations yesterday on a “technicality”; meanwhile, 115 miles away in the European Parliament, members were busy voting by a majority of 498 to 88 to recognise a Palestinian state “in principle”. The vote received 111 abstentions. Whether the timing was by coincidence or design, it was certainly at the very least unfortunate.
The motion passed at the European Parliament follows a number of similar votes taken in national parliaments across Europe in recent months. The trend started in October when the Swedish parliament became the first to recognise the principle of Palestinian statehood; since then similar non-binding resolutions have been passed in Britain, Ireland, Spain, and latterly in France and Portugal, which held their votes last week. All have been won by large margins in favour, mirroring that seen at the European level.
The main difference between the European vote and that in the national parliaments is that, once again, the European Parliament has overstepped its boundaries. In September, Ukip MEP James Carver wrote to the Commission asking whether they would recognise another Islamic state: that of Somaliland. In October they replied, saying “The EU does not have the competency to recognise states, only individual member states do.”
It continued: “A permanent solution to the status of Somaliland should be reached through negotiations between the authorities of Somaliland and the Federal Government of Somalia. It is paramount to find a solution which is acceptable to both parties. […] The EU does not seek to influence the outcome of this process.”
If only the EU were so diplomatic when dealing with the Middle East. Unfortunately, the European Institutions seem perfectly happy to attempt to influence the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, and not in a way that is favourable to her Jewish allies.
For some time, Israel has been growing increasingly wary of the EU. Little wonder when the EU has shown her support by opening backchannels to Hamas; funding a PLO which has walked away from every negotiation with Israel, turning down every offer of peace; used generous helpings of EU taxpayers money to finance schoolbooks which call for the elimination of Israel and which glorify terrorism; and gives further funds to the PLO, who use it to pay higher wages to convicted murderers languishing in jail than it pays its police and security staff. The Israeli public are watching in horror, and are asking themselves: is Europe really an honest broker?
Comparisons to the 1930’s could be seen as crass – if it were not for the fact that Jewish people living in Europe are making the comparisons themselves. As a wave of anti-Semitism swept across Europe this summer, manifesting itself in smashed up synagogues and attacks on Jews, with the recent flight of Jews from France, Belgium and to a lesser extend eastern Europe, the Jewish diaspora in Europe have once again began to wonder whether they can really call the country in which they live ‘home’.
“These are the worst times since the Nazi era,” Dieter Graumann, president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, told the Guardian in August. “On the streets, you hear things like ‘the Jews should be gassed’, ‘the Jews should be burned’ – we haven’t had that in Germany for decades. Anyone saying those slogans isn’t criticising Israeli politics, it’s just pure hatred against Jews: nothing else. And it’s not just a German phenomenon. It’s an outbreak of hatred against Jews so intense that it’s very clear indeed.”
A poll conducted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in November found that one in every eleven Germans was willing to admit that they subscribe to fascistic beliefs, including hatred of Jews. And in February, a study conducted by America’s Anti-Defamation League, which surveyed 332,000 Europeans using an index of 11 questions designed to assess adherence to anti-Jewish stereotypes, found that 24 percent of all Europeans held some level of anti-Jewish attitude. The figure was highest in France, where it rose to 37 percent, followed by 27 percent in Germany.
France is making something of a name for itself on anti-Israeli matters. Yesterday, she submitted a draft resolution to the UN, written in conjunctions with the Palestinians, calling on Israel to withdraw from all disputed territories by November 2016. According to the Times of Israel, the draft submitted omits any reference to recognition of Israel as a Jewish state as a condition of peace.
Meeting with senator-elect Joni Ernst yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “The friendship of the people of the United States of America stands in sharp contrast with what we see unfortunately in Europe.
“Today we witnessed a staggering examples of European hypocrisy. In Geneva they call for the investitgation of Israel for war crimes whilst in Luxembourg the European court removed Hamas from the list of terrorist organisations. Hamas that has committed countless war crimes and countless terror acts.
“It seems that too many in Europe, on whose soil six million Jews were slaughtered, have learned nothing. But we in Israel, we’ve learned.
“We will continue to defend our people and our state against the forces of terror and tyranny – and hypocrisy.”
By submitting this resolution to the UN, France has made it patently clear that it has learned nothing – not only from the lessons of the holocaust, but from more recent history. If the only barrier to peace was a so-called Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian lands, Israel would currently be at peace with the Palestinians in Gaza, as she unilaterally pulled out of the territory in 2005.
Instead, she was rewarded by a firestorm of rockets raining down upon her citizens – 11,000 in total since withdrawal. Over five million Israeli citizens currently live under the constant threat of rocket fire, and that number is growing as Hamas’ military capabilities grow.
The only possible lesson to draw from this experience is that the barrier to peace lies firmly with a Palestinian leadership who indoctrinate their people with hatred of Jews, and whose only wish is to see Israel wiped from the map; her people, as they so often openly say, driven into the sea. What will it take for Europe to learn this lesson?
70 years ago, from the ashes of the latest attempt to annihilate the Jews, Europe, made a solemn vow NEVER AGAIN, it’s time we held them to their word.