Opinion |

Europe Kowtows to Israeli Apartheid

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell gives a press briefing after his meetings with Iranian leaders, in Tehran, Iran, on Monday, February 3, 2020.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell gives a press briefing after his meetings with Iranian leaders, in Tehran, Iran, on Monday, February 3, 2020.Credit: Vahid Salemi,AP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Europe got itself into a bit of a mess – and the new EU foreign policy chief got tossed under the bus. Josep Borrell only dared to warn Israel against annexing territory and the gates of hell immediately opened up. The Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said the minister spoke “just hours after meetings in Iran,” as if that were a sign that the minister is actually an Iranian agent. And then the spokesman issued the mother of all warnings to Europe: “The choice of this conduct is the best way to ensure that the EU’s role in any diplomatic process will be minimal.”

Europe is lost. Israel will make peace without it. Tomorrow morning. Israel Hayom of course got into the propaganda act too, reminding the Spanish minister that he was a volunteer on Kibbutz Galon 50 years ago – “one wonders how this influenced him” – and suggesting that he be declared persona non grata. That’s it, Borrell, you can kiss your career goodbye. So shall be done to the man who dared to speak out against Israel’s brazen disregard for international law.

But the menacing offensive against Borrell – so typical of Israeli democracy in recent years, which lashes out at anyone who ventures to murmur a word of criticism against it – is being directed at a paper tiger. Israel, a hero at overcoming the weak, knows that the EU is really just a mouse that roared and has learned to ignore it. “There is only one place in the world where we have a problem,” Benjamin Netanyahu said once at a private meeting, with a map of the world on the wall behind him, pointing out Western Europe and chuckling. The rest of the world is in his pocket.

Netanyahu was right. The EU really is a paper tiger versus Israel because of its paralyzing structure, because of the rightist wave overtaking its members and because it surrenders to the emotional blackmail exerted upon it by Israel and the Jewish lobby. That’s what happens when you spend years trying your guilt-ridden, fearful best to win Israel over with nothing but flattery, aid and understanding, by adding it to Eurovision and European soccer. That’s what happens when you suffice with hollow statements of condemnation and never consider taking any genuine measures.

Borrell went rogue and issued a feeble threat when he said annexation will not pass unchallenged. But annexation will pass unchallenged. In silence. Europe’s thundering silence. You can count on the friends of the occupation in the EU, on those beacons of democracy and human rights like Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. You can count on the guilt feelings of Germany, on the hatred of Muslims, on the pressure that will be exerted by the United States.

The Jewish Israeli lobby has already silenced Europe by criminalizing opposition to the occupation and branding it as equivalent to anti-Semitism. Europe has already given in to this cynical manipulation. Now it will also give in to Donald Trump’s annexation plan. Another condemnation or two and everything will go back to normal – with Israel being the darling that is permitted everything.

Destroying equipment and structures that the EU spent millions of euros to build for Palestinians? Be our guests. Ignoring the EU’s decisions? Welcome to Israel. Sanctions? Those are only for weakling Russia that invades Crimea, not for the superpower that invaded the West Bank and occupied it for good and was never punished for it.

If Europe really wants to wield influence, it must free itself of the idea that it needs to speak gently with Israel and try to use persuasion with it. Europe tried this for decades, to no avail. The time has come for actions, Europe. Either you impose sanctions, or else you support annexation. Just spare us any more of your pious but meaningless statements.

The time has come for Europe to look reality in the eye: The two-state solution is lost. It should ask its ambassadors in Ramallah what the West Bank looks like now and what the chances are of removing the hundreds of thousands of settlers who have taken it over. If Europe wants to have influence, it must adopt a new, revolutionary way of talking – one that talks about equal rights for all. To go on reciting “two states” and to cower before Israel’s threats will ensure one thing only: the triumph of apartheid. And Europe will be a full partner in it.

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