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Israel responds to EU: We only accept charity on our terms

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.

The day Europe got Israel’s attention
What’s in the new EU guidelines regarding activities beyond the Green Line?
Can the EU’s settlement exclusion push the U.S. to follow suit?

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    1. Aaron Gross

      “I can’t imagine anybody with a genuine moral objection against what Israel does to the Palestinians…having a problem with what the EU did to Israel.”

      Well, that’s me. Of course I’ve got a genuine moral objection to what Israel does to the Palestinians: settlement. My objection is to the settlement process, not to the settlements’ continued existence per se. While I hope to see most of them dismantled as part of a two-state agreement, and I’d love to see an immediate settlement freeze, the EU guidelines don’t seem to be going in that direction. So that’s what I object to.

      This distinction between settlement process and settlements themselves is not sophistic or legalistic (though I think international law makes exactly that distinction). In practice, ever since the Gaza disengagement, it would be more reasonable to ask for a construction freeze than for a unilateral evacuation. And I think Israelis would be more amenable to delegitimating the settlement process than to delegitimating the settlements, much less to delegitimating the settlers themselves.

      On the other hand, measures like this might drive a wedge between settlers and other Israelis, so they might be effective.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Here in the US I see a conflict between two narratives or foci: one framing things as protection (from suicide bombing in the extreme case), the other as King civil rights life opportunity. Republicans are overwhelmingly of the former, Democrats are probably a majority in the latter. But I think that if the issue is pressed a strong plurality of general opinion is with the Republicans on this. Israel is the last Wild West state. Frankly, I think commentor XYZ on this site would be more understood than many of the 972 journalists. The Hispanic emergence may shift this, but I expect this group to conservatize in the next decade or two. No one likes risk–that’s the Republican trump. But risk must be endured and realized at times to change things in the West Bank.

      I wish I had “prissy liberal, Arab-loving, European snobs” near me.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Richard Witty

      I can’t tell what’s in the guidelines.

      Are they conditional on some policy change, or on some agreement reached with the Palestinian Authority and ratified by legislatures and populace?

      If some of the Israeli developments east of the green line are accepted as part of Israel in an agreement, will they not be eligible for grants?

      The far left can’t determine if the EU stance is progress or regress. It ignores the right of return and is of really very limited censure.

      I’m sure Ariel College is upset.

      If it turns out that there is some extreme poverty or contagious disease in a Jewish settlement, is the EU going to forbid aid going there?

      I’m sure the displeasure at the settlement enterprise will be heard, and it is the role of Israeli and other journalists to make that the issue addressed, rather than get distracted at all.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Philos

      Larry, I hope you write a piece on the bluster of the Israeli punditocracy. From reading them you’d think that it was Israel with an economy of $18 trillion and a population of 500 million people that’s going to snub those puny Europeans by withdrawing from trade with them. Indeed, the government is threatening to pull out of a project it gets €1.50 for every €1 it puts in. The journalist even wrote that its testament to Israel’s “status” that it’s even in that program as the only non-EU member rather than testament to the complex, guilt ridden, relationship between the EU and Israel

      Reply to Comment
    5. charles-jerusalem

      And me I call all Israelis to be aware that several countries now have banned kosher slaugthering in their territories pretexting that it is barbaric.
      At barbaric games, the Europeans have beaten the Israelis by far.
      In term of cruaulty in treating their minorities, Europe beats Israel by far.
      Europe knows now that it is not even relevant to talk about the Golan. The Golan is lost for the Syrians and the ones who will replace them after their civil war.
      Let them put a bit of pressure on the PA and the Hamas in order to soften their positions so we can enter in serious peace talks with them.
      It is easy for the EU to hit Israel with measures, it is less easy for them to impose anything in Syria, why that?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Michael

      The Good Friday Agreement is a case in point that a solution can be found for the Israel/Palestinian conflict. Prediction: A right of right Israeli coalition vs. Hams(majority)/ Fatah (minority) will find a formula.

      Reply to Comment
    7. sh

      I don’t think the EU did anything to Israel.

      It has simply required Israel to confirm that that the EU considers everywhere beyond Israel’s pre-1967 borders not to be Israel. This is not news. (Heaven knows, there has been reminder after reminder, but Israel seems to have forgotten that.) Israel is free to go on doing whatever it chooses, including doing everything to prevent a Palestinian state, destroying EU-aided Palestinian projects, killing and maiming citizens of the EU who come to help Palestinians and kicking the Palestinians themselves around mercilessly.

      On the contrary, it has done something for Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    8. carl

      The issue is very simple. Whoever believes that the Israeli government is right in claiming that it “will not accept any external edicts on our borders” has to be consistent with this very same stance and accept that, at least in principle, the non-member State of Palestine has the right to build settlements unilaterally inside the international recognised lines within which Israel is placed, until the two sides will be ready to define their borders. http://www.euractiv.com/global-europe/netanyahu-misleading-response-eu-analysis-529428

      Reply to Comment