Europe says it doesn’t want its largesse to be funneled over the Green Line – Israel screams anti-Semitism.
Despite all the outrage and charges of Nazi-style behavior (here and here) that Israeli patriots are leveling against the European Union, the EU’s new guidelines concerning the occupied territories don’t take anything away from Israel; they just place conditions on the EU’s enormous charity to this country. The EU isn’t saying it’s going to stop buying from Israeli businesses or bar Israeli ships or planes from entering European territory; it’s saying that when it gives grants, prizes, awards or support to Israelis – terms that the guidelines repeat over and over – it does not want that largesse to be funneled directly or indirectly to the West Bank, East Jerusalem or Golan Heights.
And Israel is screaming anti-Semitism. It’s not that the Europeans aren’t allowed to penalize us because of the occupation; it’s that they’re not even allowed to stop lavishing goodies on us. Israel isn’t demanding equal treatment despite the occupation; it’s demanding more of the same special treatment. From Wednesday’s Yedioth Ahronoth:
The guidelines’ biggest economic landmine is the threat of harm to research and development agreements, which benefit Israeli researchers and organizations with budgets worth hundreds of millions of euros. “We need the European R&D programs like we need oxygen,” said a senior official in Jerusalem.
And this is while Europe is hurting economically and Israel, by comparison, is doing great. No matter; we’re the victims again.
This is not yet a win for the anti-occupation forces; the Netanyahu government, the settlers and the Israel lobby in the U.S. are going to fight back furiously. There will almost certainly be a push for more settlement construction, and Netanyahu will be under pressure from his right flank to deliver. I would expect an upsurge in settler violence, especially against churches around Jerusalem. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a move in the U.S. Congress to make up for every dollar Israel loses to the EU with two dollars American; what better way for the Republicans to show their bottomless hatred for those prissy liberal, Arab-loving, European snobs?
Still, I think this will turn into a win for our side, because an Israeli backlash will set off an anti-occupation backlash, and the result will be that the movement for non-violent action against Israeli policy gets stronger. The EU’s directive should have the effect of normalizing, mainstreaming the call to force Israel to pay a price for ruling over foreign peoples and their land. It’s already happening; Meretz and Peace Now both endorsed the EU’s move, which was something of a “radicalization” for them. I expect a lot of people who honestly oppose the occupation but have a psychological barrier about taking sides against Israel to start breaking that barrier; I can’t imagine anybody with a genuine moral objection against what Israel does to the Palestinians (and, yes, the Syrians) having a problem with what the EU did to Israel.
First Stephen Hawking, now this. Alarms are going off in this country. Finally. I don’t want to get carried away, but I think it’s fair to say that the breezes of change, at least, are in the air.