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With her unbridled hostility towards Israel, the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton provides us with an abject lesson in what happens when a government places its emotional aspirations above its national interests.
Since the establishment of the State of Israel, many of Israel’s elite have aspired to be embraced by Europe. In recent years, nearly every government has voiced the hope of one day seeing Israel join the EU.
To a significant degree, Israel’s decision to recognize the PLO in 1993 and negotiate with Yasser Arafat and his deputies was an attempt by Israel’s political class to win acceptance from the likes of Ashton and her continental comrades. For years the EU had criticized Israel for refusing to recognize the PLO.
Until 1993, Israel’s leaders defied Europe because they could tell the difference between a national interest and an emotional aspiration and preferred the former over the latter. And now, Israel’s reward for preferring European love to our national interest and embracing our sworn enemy is Catherine Ashton.
To put it mildly, Ashton is not a friend of Israel. Indeed, she is so ill-disposed against Israel that she seems unable to focus for long on anything other than bashing it. Her obsession was prominently displayed in March when she was unable to give an unqualified condemnation of the massacre of French Jewish children by a French Muslim. Ashton simply had to use her condemnation as yet another opportunity to bash Israel.
Her preoccupation with Israel was again on display on Tuesday. During a boilerplate, vacuous speech about President Bashar Assad’s slaughter of his fellow Syrians, apropos of nothing the baroness launched into an unhinged, impassioned, and deeply dishonest frontal assault against Israel.
The woman US President Barack Obama has empowered to lead the West’s negotiations with Iran regarding its illicit nuclear weapons program stood at the podium in the European Parliament and threw an anti-Israel temper tantrum.
The same woman who couldn’t be bothered to finish her speech about Assad’s massacre of children, the same woman who is so excited about her Iranian negotiating partners’ body language that she doesn’t think it is necessary to give them an ultimatum about ending their quest for a nuclear bomb, seemed to lack a sufficiently harsh vocabulary to express her revulsion with Jewish “settlers.”
As she put it, “We are also seriously concerned by recent and increasing incidents of settler violence which we all condemn.”
It’s not clear what “recent and increasing incidents of settler violence” she was referring to. But in all likelihood, she didn’t have a specific incident in mind. She probably just figured that those sneaky Jews are always up to no good.
ASIDE FROM condemning imaginary Israeli crimes more emphatically than real Syrian crimes, Ashton’s speech involved a presentation of the EU’s policy on Israel and the Palestinians.
That policy is based on three premises: The EU falsely claims that all Israeli communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines are illegal.
It rejects Israel’s legal right to assert its authority over Area C – the area of Judea and Samaria that is empty of Palestinian population centers.
And it will only soften its anti-Israel positions if the Palestinians do so first.
Aside from its jaw-dropping animosity towards Israel, what is notable about the EU’s position is that it is actually far more hostile to Israel than the Palestinians’ position towards Israel as that position was revealed in the agreements that the Palestinians signed with Israel in the past. In those agreements, the Palestinians accepted continued sole Israeli control over Area C. They did not require Israel to end the construction of Jewish communities outside the 1949 armistice lines. The peace process ended when the Palestinians moved closer to the EU’s position.
The EU’s antipathy towards Israel as personified in Ashton’s behavior teaches us two important lessons. First, it is often hard to tell our friends from our foes. Israelis – particularly those born to families that emigrated from Europe – have traditionally viewed Europe as the last word in enlightened democracy and sophistication and style. We wanted to be like them. We wanted to be accepted by them.
Indeed we were so swept away by the thought that they might one day love us back that we adopted policies that were inimical to our national interest and so weakened us tremendously.
It never occurred to us that the fact that Europe insisted that we adopt policies that undercut our national survival meant that the Europeans wished us ill.
They seemed so nice.
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