A call to the European collective conscience

Palestine Update  93

A call to the European collective conscience

Hollywood reporter.com recently issued a report that German public broadcasters have abandoned plans to air concerts next year by ex-Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters. They have explained their decision as being impelled by what they call anti-Semitism on his part. This is especially appalling coming, as it does, from a German source which should normally be endorsing freedom of expression and not curtailing the rights of individuals and groups to exercise their autonomy to argue for their chosen line of political thinking.

Germany does suffer from the complex of supporting anything to do with Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. BDS calls on artists and academics to boycott Israel as their dissent of Israel’s occupation of territories where Palestinians seek statehood. It is reported that as many as five television and radio associates of Germany’s national ARD network have dropped plans to broadcast concerts by Waters in Berlin and Cologne scheduled next summer. Their stated goal is to preempt other artists who refuse to perform in Israel to desist from such decisions.

Israel’s ability to influence European governments and inter-governmental bodies is dreadful. If the guilt of the holocaust still sticks in the European heart and mind, the question arises: Why does the way Israel execute its occupation practices not strike the collective European conscience as much as the horrendous holocaust out of which the Jews have emerged with plenty of help from those countries where they were once persecuted?
It borders on the absurd that these very countries lecture the rest of the world on the attributes of democracy and freedom while turning a blind eye to Israel’s relentless carnage on Palestinians and its continued apartheid-colonialist practices, complete, as they are with violations of democratic norms.

The EU and individual countries have, on an ad hoc basis, taken issue with Israel. The media punctuates these minor interventions as if they were decisions that would finally discipline Israel. In the main, these strident postures are merely benign and designed to assuage Palestinians, their supporters and even to con public opinion around the world. There is no tangible political payback for the Palestinians. On the contrary these interventions from Europe are snubbed. Palestinians regularly lose more land, have more of their people imprisoned, see the wall extend right into their homes and fields, witness their homes demolished for no legitimate reason, watch helplessly while their agricultural fields are rendered fallow, view with despair their schools closed, and their religious spaces violated. All Israel receives for this mayhem is mere reprimands, as if these words of admonishment even remotely influence its political conduct.

Palestinians may well make the choice of aligning with the Global South. Indeed, developing countries may not have ‘aid-bags’ to dole out to Israel. But it is they who have kept Palestine alive in the United Nations and they who have consistently voted for resolutions that affirm justice for Palestine. The West votes according to political convenience and without justifiable rationale. It may be even be pertinent to suggest that aid to Israel is the equivalent of a poison chalice which has never enabled Israel to be partner in growing the Middle East as a region of peace and prosperity. Israel is the cause of war and extremism in the region- the only dangerously undeclared nuclear power. A progressively rich Israel has only made it arrogant and dispenser of trade ties that benefit its own military-industrial-complex and other fields of expertise achieved using resources acquired in occupied territories. The West gazes as silent accomplice.

Palestinians have a captive and loyal support base within European civil society, a growing phenomenon. This includes both churches and progressive Jewish groups. This is vital because, in the final analysis, the Question of Palestine will be won on the streets of the world by people who say to Israel “Enough is enough- no more will be tolerated”. The, yet promising BDS Movement will grow into a torrent that will tie the hands of governments and enough pressure will bring Israel to its knees. In the meantime, the internal resistance needs support and solidarity in multiple forms.

The article we share discusses what solidarity is not. And it is important that the world minutely scrutinizes what passes off as aid, but is, in fact, tacit support to the occupation. Pretences are counter-productive because they offer an impression of normalcy and progression while being dangerously distorted and opium-like.

Ranjan Solomon

This is not solidarity – EU’s tacit support to Israel atrocities
(Extracts of an article from Electronic Intifada)

 Abu Alinumah, Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada offers an incisive analysis of the EUs flawed and self-seeking opportunistic policies of the EU and exposes the double-faced EU engagement in Palestine. Abu Alinumah asserts “European Union diplomats are once again wringing their hands about Israel’s large-scale expulsions of Palestinians and the demolitions of their homes and schools in the occupied West Bank… But their professed concern is totally undermined by the EU’s policy of lavishing incentives on Israel to continue these crimes”.

The sordid facts state on-the-ground
The EU mission in Jerusalem recently issued a statement to “deplore the continuing threat of demolitions and seizures of Palestinian structures” in the communities of Ein al-Hilweh, Umm Jamal and Jabal al-Baba, which would leave 400 people homeless”. The EU noted that “ last month “four other herding communities covering 170 people in the Northern Jordan Valley lost their case at the Israeli high court and two European donor-funded schools in Wadi al-Seeq and al-Muntar are presently under threat of destruction and seizure.” The EU also claims to be “deeply concerned” about Israeli plans to demolish about a fifth of the housing and infrastructure in Susiya in the South Hebron Hills in coming weeks. The EU argued:  “As winter arrives, an imminent demolition will leave up to 100 people, half of them children, without shelter” The EU then asserts how all these actions “threaten the two-state solution” and violate Israel’s “obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law.”

Déja vu
In August, occupation forces destroyed a European-funded school the day before children were about to start classes. The EU did nothing to hold Israel accountable for that or a spate of other demolitions and confiscations. Later that month, the EU issued a statement gently urging Israel to “reconsider” its planned eviction of the Shamasneh family from their home in occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Israel evicted the family anyway.In 2017, according to the UN, Israel has demolished almost 400 structures in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, displacing more than 600 Palestinians – a record year of Israeli destruction.  Abu Alinumah calls Israel’s actions “part of a calculated colonization effort that is devastating to the lives of each and every targeted family”.Toothless discussions
When Abu Alinumah called up the EU office in Jerusalem to ask them if anything would be different this time around given that Israel has treated earlier EU statements with contempt. He asked if the EU would be doing something different to deter Israel from these planned demolitions. “Would the EU consider sanctions”? The diplomatic answer was a plain “NO”.  Abu Alinumah writes: “I got the usual line, that in addition to public statements; the EU brings up its concerns in private discussions with Israeli officials”. He adds: “In fact, there’s evidence that senior EU officials have been told not to raise concerns about human rights abuses in high-level discussions with Israeli counterparts”.Perhaps, the strongest disapproval of Abu Alinumah can be found in this comment: “But even if the EU is raising these matters privately, it is absurd to expect Israel would pay any heed when the consistent message from Brussels to Tel Aviv is: do whatever you like and we will continue to give you unconditional support”.

Bowing to Israel
Abu Alinumah concludes: “The material support for Israel’s occupation, apartheid and settler-colonialism is backed up with a political commitment that includes EU refusal to condemn Israeli politicians when they advocate ethnic cleansing and even genocide against Palestinians, and EU assistance to smear and silence European citizens who advocate for Palestinian rights… the EU and France bowed meekly to Israel’s decision to bar French elected officials from visiting the occupied West Bank. They had planned to go there to show solidarity with Palestinians living under the very military occupation the EU allegedly opposes. Meanwhile, there is the ongoing parade of European officials heading to Israel to reward it with more “cooperation”. EU support encompasses hundreds of millions of dollars in “research” funding, including millions for Israeli arms makers and torturers.