The same old morally rotten continent.
On Friday the European Parliament, amid a major migration crisis, zeroed in on Europe’s real problem: it voted to start labeling goods that come from “occupied” Israeli territory in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
The measure passed by a vote of 525 to 70 with 31 abstentions. Although it’s nonbinding, it follows earlier EU resolutions on prohibiting contacts with Israeli “settlements,” and is seen as threatening enough that the Israeli Foreign Ministry has scheduled an emergency meeting on the issue later this week.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said the move was discriminatory and “had the smell of a boycott.” Europe has an inglorious modern history of boycotting Jews and Jewish businesses leading to the Nazi boycotts beginning in 1933.
Europe’s concern about Israel’s “occupation” is highly specific and even unique. As commentator Evelyn Gordon notes, drawing on work by international-law scholar Eugene Kontorovich, the same EU officials who treat the Israeli occupation as criminal “happily facilitate Turkish activity in occupied Northern Cyprus, Moroccan activity in occupied Western Sahara, Chinese activity in occupied Tibet, and much more.”
The EU, in fact, has “an entire program to direct funding to Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus” even though Turkish settlers are 20-50 percent of the population; when was the last time you heard the word settlers applied to Turks?
The EU also “pays Morocco for access to fisheries in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara,” which means the EU “is paying the occupier for the right to deplete the occupied territory’s natural resources.”
And as Gordon notes:
Israel has a far stronger legal claim to the West Bank than do any of the “occupiers” the EU has no problem doing business with. The League of Nations awarded this land to a “Jewish national home,” and that international mandate was preserved by the UN Charter’s Article 80; the territory had no other recognized sovereign when Israel captured it from an illegal occupier (Jordan) in a defensive war; and UN Security Council Resolution 242 explicitly reaffirmed Israel’s right to keep at least part of the captured territory.
Does the EU’s “special” treatment of Israel come from a sentiment that at least could be interpreted as benign—a special concern for the Palestinians? Again, there’s a problem: the EU’s boycott moves not only pertain to the West Bank but also to the Golan Heights, where no Palestinian Arabs live.
Instead there’s only a small Druze Arab population there, and they hardly—especially now—want to be part of Syria again. As an Israeli scholar notes, “They are very much afraid that the Islamists [there] would slaughter them.”
The EU, then, sees Israel’s presence in the Golan as unlawful but doesn’t make clear whom, among the contenders, it wants to rule there instead—the mass-murderous Assad regime? The Nusra Front? ISIS?
If, then, there’s a “principle” behind the EU push to boycott the “occupation,” it’s this: every inch of land taken by Israel in a defensive war in 1967 needs to be Jew-free.
Elsewhere on the globe these rigorous EU “standards” seem to be more flexible. As commentator Soeren Kern described last month, just days after the Iranian nuclear deal was signed in Vienna on July 14, “senior officials from Germany, France, Italy and the European Union rushed to Tehran to pursue business deals; leaders from Austria, Spain and Sweden are planning to lead trade missions to Iran in September and October.”
The delegations are high-ranking indeed. First in line—on July 19—was the German one, led by Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel who warned: “For Germany this much is clear: Anyone who wants sustainable relations with us cannot question Israel’s right to exist.”
Considering that Gabriel brought along a gaggle of top business executives, that statement has the ring of “nonbinding” rhetoric.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, for his part, proclaimed in Tehran on July 29: “We are two great independent countries, two great civilizations. It is true that in recent years, for reasons that everyone knows, links have loosened, but now thanks to the nuclear deal, things are going to change.”
An Italian delegation led by Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, a Spanish one led by Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, and an Austrian one led by President Heinz Fischer soon followed, and others are on the way.
Meanwhile Amnesty International reports that in 2015 executions have reached “staggering” proportions in Iran. The EU claims that it “holds a strong and principled position against the death penalty; its abolition is a key objective for the Union’s human rights policy…. Indeed, the EU is the leading institutional actor and largest donor to the fight against the death penalty.”
But the EU clearly isn’t concerned at all about the death penalty in Iran—just as an example of the regime’s problematic conduct in many spheres. After all, it isn’t “settlements” or “occupation,” and there’s too much money to be made.
No, Europe still reserves the boycott weapon for Jews, and it still gives the same morally rotten stench.