Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, on July 14 tweeted her pious hopes for the EU-Israel relationship: “EU and Israel are bound to be friends and allies. Because the history of Europe is the history of the Jewish people. Our democracy flourishes if Jewish life flourishes, too. I am committed to fighting antisemitism and fostering Jewish life in the EU.”
Of course she is. She’ll do anything she can to fight antisemitism, anything at all, except requiring that the most virulent antisemitic schoolbooks, those used by the Palestinians, that teach homicidal hatred of Jews, be revised by the PA before the EU renews its lavish aid to Ramallah. In what seemed to be a promising display of backbone, the EU froze all funds to the PA for 14 months. Yet in the end, the PA again managed to come out victorious, not changing a comma in its vicious schoolbooks, while the EU finally yielded, and began to again pour into the PA coffers hundreds of millions of dollars that the Palestinians receive as their due.
A report on the EU’s capitulation to the PA is here: “EU states vote to continue funding despite Palestinian antisemitic incitement in textbooks,” by Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2022:
The EU on Tuesday [June 14] failed to pass a proposal to withhold about 5% of its support for the Palestinian Authority in light of antisemitic incitement from its textbooks, after 14 months of freezing funding.
The EU could not even manage to approve a mere 5% cut — laughable in its littleness — in its support for the PA, so fearful is it of the PA’s angry response, so eager to keep its approval.
Instead, the European Commission – whose president, Ursula von der Leyen, was in Israel on Tuesday – decided to pay the PA without new conditions, despite the findings of an EU-commissioned study by the Georg-Eckert Institute confirming in June 2021 that Palestinian textbooks feature antisemitism, glorification of terrorism and erase[sic] Israel.
What does it take for the EU to recognize that it is promoting antisemitism in the worst way, by allowing impressionable Palestinian children to be schooled in a culture of Jew-hating? Why doesn’t it believe the findings of its own commissioned experts at the Georg-Eckert Insitute about the antisemitism, glorification of terrorism, and erasure of Israel from the world map? Why did the EU manage to hold up funding the PA for 14 months, hoping to pressure the PA into cleaning up its textbooks, and then suddenly crumble without explanation? If a revision of the textbooks would have taken “too much time,” why could the PA not have been provided with Arabic-language schoolbooks from other Arab countries, such as Bahrain and the UAE, where the antisemitism is likely to be muted or even, we allow ourselves to believe, now that these countries have joined the Abraham Accords, entirely absent?
The European Commission approved a €224.8 million aid package for the Palestinians on Tuesday, in addition to previous contributions of €92m. to UNRWA and €25m. specifically for humanitarian aid. The EU projects it will spend €1.152 billion in financial support for the Palestinians during the three fiscal years 2021-2022, 2022-2023, and 2023-2024..
How extraordinarily generous the EU has been, and continues to be, to the Palestinians. Contributions just within this year, 2021-2022, will include 250 million euros ($261 million) that go directly to the PA, another 92 million euros ($96 million) that is sent to UNRWA, and 25 million euros ($26 million) that are allocated for “humanitarian aid.” In other words, nearly $400 million is being lavished on the Palestinians from the EU in this one fiscal year. And in the three years from 2021 and 2024, the EU projects its financial support will amount to 1.152 billion euros, or $1.2 billion.
How did such colossal sums ever come to be treated as amounts that the EU had a duty to provide the Palestinians? Where did this nonsense begin? Somehow, the Palestinians have became the most privileged of all the groups worldwide that claim to be in need. There are many billions of people much poorer than the Palestinians, the poor in sub-Saharan Africa, in South America, and in South Asia, who receive little or nothing from the EU. Think of the Indians in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, the farmers enduring drought and famine in Haiti, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Think of the millions of wretched day laborers India, and Bangladesh. In all these countries. the level of abysmal poverty far outstrips anything the Palestinians endure. Yet no one in the EU protests this state of affairs, demanding that the money going to the Palestinians year after year ought to be redirected at those Indians in the Andes, the ragged beggars in Calcutta, the starving farmers in Ethiopia and South Sudan. In the same way, no one stops to question why it is that of the hundreds of millions of refugee groups created in the world since World War II, only one group – the Palestinians – are allowed to pass on their refugee status as an inheritable trait, so that the number of those “refugees” constantly increases, as ever more of them are born and then placed on the UNRWA rolls, to enjoy a cornucopia of benefits that no other “refugees” are provided.
Last September, Prof. Dr. Eckhardt Fuchs, director of the Georg-Eckert Institute, told the European Parliament 2021while some books follow UNESCO standards, “in other subjects they do not. Here you find incitement to hatred, antisemitic parts, and this we have said very clearly and differentiated.”
Thirty-two members of the European Parliament from several parliamentary groups called on von der Leyen in a letter this past March to set conditions for funding the Palestinian education sector.
Years of negotiations with the PA and repeated Commission pledges of ‘zero tolerance’ for antisemitism have unfortunately failed to bring about the desired change,” the letter said. “Palestinian children continue to be abused as they are being taught to hate. Asking the PA to revise these books is not an imposition but a self-evident and non-negotiable duty.”
Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, despite her own pledges to fight antisemitism, was unmoved. Her mind was made up. If the PA refused to honor its commitment to change its schoolbooks, then so be it; that was no reason for the EU to “punish” innocent Palestinians by withholding aid. Nor did she understand that raising up children in homicidal hate, teaching them to honor and emulate terrorist murderers, constitutes child abuse.
When the European Parliament reviewed the 2021 budget in April, it condemned incitement in Palestinian education and demanded that “all text books and materials supported by Union Funds which are used in schools must be in line with UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, co-existence and non-violence.”
Just two months ago, in April, the European Parliament yet again demanded that the PA’s textbooks be revised so that they would meet UNESCO “standards of peace, tolerance, co-existence, and non-violence.” Nothing of the sort – nothing, indeed, at all – happened. Not a comma was change in those schoolbooks. And then, less than two months later, the European Commission forgot all about what the European Parliament had demanded, and committed itself to providing the PA with every bit of the aid that was supposed to have been withheld if UNESCO standards were not met.
Yet, the aid package includes €145.35m. for salaries and pensions of PA civil servants, including those who write textbooks.
Those most directly responsible for the dissemination of antisemitic hate, the writers of these textbooks, are again receiving their salaries and pensions, paid by the ever-accommodating EU.
The aid package also includes €3m. to “promote gender responsive policies and laws in the occupied Palestinian territory.”
Palestinian textbooks glorified Dalal al-Mughrabi, a Palestinian responsible for the murder of 38 Israelis, including 13 children, within the context of female empowerment, the report said, adding that there are “no further portraits of significant female figures in Palestinian history.”
When the Palestinian textbook writers had to come up with an empowered female to write about, someone whom Palestinian girls could proudly learn about and seek to emulate, they did not settle on a Palestinian artist, writer, musician, actress, or athlete, but on Dalal al-Mughrabi, the terrorist who was responsible for the murder of 38 Israelis, 13 of whom were children. This is the woman Palestinian girls are offered as a model. In fact, she is the only woman who was selected for discussion in the Palestinian schoolbooks. Her sole claim to fame is mass murder.
Soon after the vote in April, a EU official said they do not “impose reforms to our partners,” but the PA is working on reforming its education sector.
But that remark goes against the history of the last few years, when the EU has been continually trying to “impose reforms” — that is, continually asking the PA to remove the antisemitism in its schoolbooks, and being continually stonewalled. Instead of trying harder to pressure the PA, by withholding all of its aid money, the EU every year eventually gives up trying, and even claims it is virtuous not to pressure too much: “we do not impose reforms to [sic] our partners.” Why not? Why should those who have the power to attach conditions to their largesse not do so? Surely the most justified of such conditions is to insist that the recipients of the aid stop brainwashing their children to hate, and to want to kill, Jews.
The EU does not fund textbooks, but we support the Palestinian education sector,” an EU official said. “The EU is committed to supporting high-quality education in Palestine. This is a vital contribution to ensure peaceful coexistence, tolerance and mutual understanding.” The EU seeks to “work hand in hand with the PA on this, including on the basis of the study by the Georg Eckert Institute.”
Utter nonsense and lies. The EU is committed to “supporting high-quality education” using textbooks that contain passages fit for Der Stürmer? Of course, the money the EU gives to the PA pays for textbooks. How is the money given to the PA that pays for these hate-filled texts helping “to ensure peaceful coexistence, tolerance, and mutual understanding”? There is no way to separate out the “cost of textbooks” from the larger budget; aid money is fungible. If the EU says it will pay for X, but will not pay for Y, then the PA, as recipient, can take the money it was going to use for X and apply it instead to Y.
The EU has no tolerance for incitement to hatred, violence as a means to achieve political goals and antisemitism in all its forms,” the official added. “These principles are non-negotiable for the Commission. Any material that goes against them… has no place in textbooks or classrooms.”
Rub your eyes in disbelief. Do these fools really believe what they say? Or they think we, their worldwide audience, are even greater fools, because we will believe them? How can this EU official say with a straight face that “the EU has no tolerance for incitement to hatred, violence, and antisemitism in all its forms”? Fifteen minutes spent looking at the blood-curdling texts used in the PA schools yesterday, today, and tomorrow, would disabuse anyone of that extraordinary claim.
Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Brussels-based Transatlantic Institute, said: “The EU had the historic opportunity and obligation to take a clear stand against antisemitism and incitement and for peace between Israelis and Palestinians but unfortunately decided to waste it.”
In April, it seemed that the EU was determined not to give in again, but to hew to its demand that the PA revise its textbooks if it wanted the aid tap to again be turned on. Less than two months later, the PA has not changed one jot or tittle of any of its hate-filled texts, but the EU has nonetheless opened wide the money tap.
“This decision contradicts the EU’s core values, its declared goal of advancing a two-state solution and ignores the European Parliament’s repeated calls to end such incitement in Palestinian schoolbooks supported with EU funds,” he [Daniel Schwammenthal] said.
“The decision is simply incomprehensible given that the Commission’s very first EU Strategy on Combating Antisemitism, released just eight months ago, explicitly states that the EU must ensure that external funds are not misallocated to activities that incite hatred and violence towards Jews.”
Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, which studies textbooks in the Middle East, said: “The PA textbook issue is now too important to simply disappear from the agenda of the Commission and Parliament.”
“The fact is that, as of today, no improvements to the textbooks have yet been made,” he said. “On the contrary, increased levels of antisemitism in the new study cards and direct calls for violence were condemned just last month by the Parliament.”
The Palestinian textbook writers have done Hajj Amin El Husseini, and his friend Heinrich Himmler, proud. They have increased the dose of antisemitism in the “new study cards” that accompany their unrevised textbooks, used to guide students to the most important matters to study and memorize. These study cards, and the calls for violence against Jews, had both been condemned by the European Parliament just one month before the EU approved nearly $400 million in aid. No one can explain why the EU suddenly unfroze the funds for the PA that had been frozen for 14 months.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution in 2021 calling on EU funding to be conditional on removing incitement, Sheff said.
“This decision reflects the view of millions of Europeans represented by elected members of the European Parliament who clearly want to see an end to the abuse of their taxpayer money until positive changes are made,” he said. “They and their elected MEPs are not going to change their minds because Ms. Von der Leyen would like the issue to disappear.”
Fourteen months have been spent — wasted — in the struggle to get the PA to clean up the antisemitism in its textbooks. The members of the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly this April to withhold funds until those changes were made. The PA stood firm; the European Commission capitulated and emptied its pockets into the PA’s coffers. Another year, another $400 million. Perhaps someone else, morally more advanced, will take the place of that well-pleased pleaser, Ursula von der Leyen, the lady who tells us, without the slightest shame or chagrin, that she is “against all forms of antisemitism.” All we can do is hope.