Judea and Samaria

The legality of Israel’s “land grab”

A plan to build homes for Jews triggers international outrage. A scheme to build homes for east Jerusalem’s Arab populations is virtually ignored by the international media? Why the disparity?

When Israel recently declared its intention to develop 400 hectares of land in Gush Etzion (an area settled before 1947, destroyed by the Arab Legion in 1948 and recaptured in 1967), the world loudly condemned it as a “land grab.” But when Jerusalem’s building committee announced 2,200 new homes for Arabs in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Arav al-Swahara, there was almost total silence.

The message is loud and clear. Despite residing in the land of Judea and Samaria for millennia, today’s Jews are now forbidden to live there at all.  Arabs, on the other hand, are endowed with a natural entitlement to “Palestine.” It is no surprise, then, that the Obama administration has officially demanded Israel reverses its land appropriation in Gush Etzion, saying it is counterproductive to the so-called peace process.

If Obama had any sense he would he see that Israel’s appropriation of land is both practically and legally comprehensible. Israel’s decision to bring the land under state control is simply an attempt to create contiguity between the Green Line and the settlements in Betar Ilit, Kfar Etzion and Gevaot. It is widely understood that this land will one day form part of an agreed land swap between Israel and the Palestinians.

Plus, if Obama knew his history (and he obviously doesn’t) he would know that the “West Bank” is unclaimed land. Contrary to popular opinion, Israeli settlements are entirely legal as long as they are within the parameters of the 1922 Mandate of Palestine. This is the same mandate that legalized and encouraged the immigration of Jews to all parts of historic Israel.

Israel’s critics may be surprised to know that the 1922 Mandate has never been superseded in international law, not even by the United Nation’s 1947 partition plan. Because the Arabs refused to recognize the partition of “Palestine,” the legal status of Judea and Samaria reverted back to the 1922 law . The capture of Judea and Samaria from Jordan in 1967 was the first step in the restoration of the territory’s true legal status.  It also means that Israel’s recent “land grab” is actually the fulfilment of the original 1922 Mandate.

(Quoting the Fourth Geneva Convention to argue that the settlements are in fact illegal is nonsensical. The Fourth Geneva Convention pertains only to cases of occupation of a sovereign entity. Because of the Arab refusal to reach an agreement between 1947 and 1949, the area popularly referred to as the West Bank never became the legal territory of any sovereign entity – not even Jordan, despite its occupation of the territory until 1967. Only Israel has a legal entitlement to Judea and Samaria.)

If anyone is in any doubt, they would do well to consult a document boasting the signatures of over 1,000 respected diplomats and legal experts from around the world, ranging from South Africa and Canada to Norway and Brazil. The file was delivered to the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in the form of a petition just over a year ago.

According to these legal experts, it is factually incorrect to refer to the settlements as illegal for the simple reason that the term “1967 lines” does not exist in international law. The pre-1967 lines are in fact 1949 armistice lines, and are not recognized lines or security lines. Moreover, the issue of borders is on the agenda of the peace talks and is subject to final status negotiations.

All of which means that the Palestinian claim that statehood is an unassailable right should not be taken at face value. Arab hatred of Israel has never been about the settlements or even about land. The primary obstacle is an ideological refusal to recognize the Jewish people’s deep-rooted historic, cultural and legal connections to the entire land of Israel. Until the Arabs and the rest of the world accept that the Jews have an inalienable and legal right to live in Judea and Samaria, there will never be peace.

First published on September 10 for the Jewish Media Agency

http://jewishmediaagency.com/legality-israels-land-grab/

 

 

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Why Europe needs Israel

Zeev Elkin, Israel’s deputy foreign minister is worried that the chasm between the EU and Israel will continue to grow if there is no solution to the new EU criteria concerning Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.

I think Elkin is worrying too much. Yes, Israel is heavily dependent on trading agreements with Europe, but it’s just as true to say that Europe is dependent on Israel. Why? For the simple reason that Europe must become a dynamic knowledge economy if it is to compete with Asia and the US, and the best way to achieve this is for the EU to work closely with its neighbor and economic partner, Israel.

After all, when it comes to knowledge-based industries, Israel is one of the most competitive economies on the planet thanks to its remarkable capacity for innovation. Indeed, it is no secret that Israel is a world-leader in the hi-tech and start-up sectors. Israel’s remarkable laboratories and scientific institutes are the envy of the world and a magnet for international investment.

Let’s look at the facts. Israel boasts around 4,000 technology start-ups, which is more than any other country outside the US. Not surprisingly, half of Israel’s exports are of the hi-tech variety. Israel leads the world in patents for medical equipment and is a supplier of inexpensive but crucial medicines to Europe (such as Copaxone for multiple sclerosis and Actos for type 2 diabetes).  And it has attracted the most venture capital investment per capita in the world, 30 times more than Europe.

In the years and decades to come, Israeli engineers, computer scientists, inventors, chemists and biologists will drive not only Israel’s economy but will provide benefits to Europe and the world at large. The UK for example is quietly building solid trade links with Israel amid talk of a stronger partnership between British and Israeli companies in the areas of innovation, hi-tech and science. (The fact that a young and tiny country like Israel is well ahead of the UK in terms of research and development speaks volumes about the lackluster nature of British industry.)

If Europe wants to compete with China and the US in the areas of medical technology, homeland security, communications and aviation, then it must cooperate with Israel and jettison its pointless obsession with Palestinian Arabism. On one level, the EU is well aware of this. This is why Israel was the first non-European country to be associated to the EU’s Research and Technical Development program. It is also why the EU wants Israel involved in the Horizon 2020 program.

But there is a problem. In July the EU issued guidelines (due to come into effect next January) that say any agreement between the EU and Israel must include a clause in which Israel relinquishes its claim over East Jerusalem and Judea-Samaria. This is unacceptable to Israel and has jeopardized Israel’s involvement in Horizon 2020, the EU’s flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness.

Antonio Tajani, the European Commission’s vice president for enterprise and industry, has pledged to strengthen industrial cooperation between the EU and Israel. Indeed, the whole point of his recent two-day mission to Israel was to procure Israel’s cooperation in the areas of space technology, communications and water technology. The implication is that without Israeli input, EU industry will lag behind the rest of the world.

Tajani specifically wants Israel to sign the Horizon 2020 agreement because Europe needs Israel’s cooperation in the areas of job creation and scientific research. In other words, Israel’s involvement in the flagship scheme would not only benefit the Jewish state, it would boost prosperity in Europe.

This is echoed by Elmar Brok, a German Christian Democrat politician and foreign policy adviser to Angela Merkel. He has publicly stated that Israel’s participation in Horizon 2020 is important to Europe.

“I think it is a European interest. It would be stupid of us if we do not continue this cooperation,” he told the Jerusalem Post, before adding: “Because it is very much to our advantage.”

The deadline to sign Horizon 2020 is the end of November, which is why the EU is trying desperately to reach a compromise solution in the coming weeks.

Without Israel, Europe is less competitive. And in the aftermath of a global recession and a continuing Eurozone crisis, a return to economic competitiveness is vital for the well-being of Europe and the rest of the world. The EU leadership must be realistic and abandon the insane boycott of Judea and Samaria and concentrate instead on building solid relations with the world’s leading innovator, Israel.

 

 

UK: Boycotters play politics with water

In a world where millions of people face chronic water shortages, you think some people would be grateful that at least one country is a pioneer in the art of water purification. Israel is a world leader in desalinization and irrigation technologies and has improved the lives of millions of people around the world. Take, for example, Israel’s most-exported environmental technology: the refined drip irrigation system. This allows farmers to produce greater crop yields while using less water. This technology is used in Africa, Australia and the Americas.

In Britain, however, there are a handful of philistines who reject Israel’s water expertise because of their support for the Palestinianist cause. A branch of the Palestinian solidarity movement in England is protesting against the installation of eco-friendly water meters in thousands of homes for the simple reason that the technology comes from Israel. Three years ago, Israeli company Arad signed a contract with British water provider Southern Water. The latter faces the challenge of providing water to the driest part of the UK while at the same time reducing the cost of water consumption. Around 300,000 homes in north London now boast a state-of-the-art water meter, with a further 200,000 expected by 2015.

But as usual the Palestinian issue has got in the way of progress. In July, an anti-Israel activist publicly protested against the installation of an Arad meter in their home. Why? Because Arad supplies equipment to Jews in Judea and Samaria! Arad also employs Arabs in Israel but that’s irrelevant to Israel’s critics, who are willing to decimate the Palestinian job market if its suits their anti-Zionist agenda.

Not surprisingly, the protest was reported in the national newspapers, thus raising the profile of the otherwise unknown Brighton Palestine Campaign. Activists, buoyed by the coverage in the media, are now leafleting homes in the south-east of England in an attempt to deter consumers from accepting Arad-made meters. The cause is being led by Caroline Lucas, who is an MP and the leader of the Green Party. Her concern for “Palestinian human rights” has trumped her green credentials and she continues to pressure Southern Water into rescinding its deal with Arad.

But there is evidence that the malicious boycott of Israeli water technology is a damp squib for the simple reason that people want clean water that doesn’t cost the earth. Luckily, this has always been the case. Even as early as 1937, a British report observed that the Jewish National Home’s improvement of water supply and sanitation had resulted in a Palestinian Arab population explosion during the 1930s – partly because Arabs were living longer and partly because Arabs wanted to live among Jews.

The campaign against Southern Water and Arad will probably result in a few letters of complaint from the odd anti-Semite and/or politically correct fellow traveler. But on the whole, I doubt that Southern Water is going to be engulfed by letters of complaints from outraged Brits, many of whom are probably sick of being bullied by the Palestinian lobby and are more concerned about how to pay for efficient and environmentally-friendly water and sanitation. As philosopher Roger Scruton says, “Activist campaigns, which tend to be conducted in the name of the people as a whole, neither consult the people nor show much interest in noticing them.”

Whether you agree with it or not, water is now a commodity like everything else, which is why the UK government and individual companies are defying the boycotters and turning to Israel. For several years, British trade ministers have been forging links with Israeli companies in the areas of innovation, hi-tech and science. Very recently, UK environment minister Richard Benyon welcomed more than a dozen Israeli water company delegates to a trade meeting, which was also attended by investors from India, Europe and the US. This (and the fact that Israeli exports to Britain were up 55 per cent in the first quarter of 2013) must really irritate boycotters whose anti-Semitic campaign to damage Israel’s economy and reputation is floundering.

Indeed, a number of commercial enterprises in the UK have resisted the boycotters by investing in – or selling – Israeli water technology. Virgin, owned by the immensely successful British entrepreneur Richard Branson, has formed a partnership with Israeli corporation Strauss Group. The collaboration has resulted in a water purifying machine called Virgin Pure, which is now on sale to the British consumer for £300.

Haifa-based Mapal Green Energy has just launched an innovative waste water treatment system in north London. The system, which harnesses the power of bubbles to separate waste particles from water, saves a fortune in energy and has reduced maintenance costs by 80 per cent. Mapal has received over £3 million of investment from a London-based private equity firm and is in talks with various water companies in the hope that the system will be rolled out across the rest of London and the UK. (The company has also been aided by the UK-Israel Tech Hub program, which is sponsored by the British Embassy in Israel.)

Meanwhile, EcoStream, an Israeli-owned shop in the English seaside town of Brighton, has reported a 38 per cent increase in trade, despite weekly pickets by anti-Israel activists. The company, which sells SodaStream recyclable bottles made in Maaleh Adumim in Judea and Samaria, opened for trade last August and has already expanded its range and launched a website. In contrast, the BDS people are behaving appallingly. Despite the fact that many of these SodaStream bottles are made by Arabs living under Palestinian rule, the boycotters continue to cause trouble for the employees of EcoStream, who are denounced as “Nazis.” In February, one female protestor was arrested and charged with “racially or religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress.”  This is illustrative of the boycott mentality.

It is highly likely that water will continue to play an important role in British commerce and UK trade agreements for the foreseeable future. Boycotters will try to sabotage these efforts but I suspect they will fail in their objectives. Too many people need clean water and effective sanitation. And at a time when people are concerned about drought and climate change, the excellence of Israeli water technology is likely to become more attractive. Basically, Britain must choose between eco-friendly water technology and the crude ideology of the Palestinianists, who favor a regressive boycott that echoes the anti-Jewish policies promulgated by the Nazi and Soviet regimes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Euro imperialism threatens Israel’s integrity

Since the announcement of the John Kerry peace talks, a number of left-wing pundits in Israel and abroad are promulgating the view that the existence of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria poses an existential threat to the State of Israel. In the same vein, other left-wing commentators say the building of homes and business beyond the Green Line is a severe blow to Israeli-EU relations.

All of this is nonsense and it feeds the tired narrative that the Jewish settlements are the main obstacle to peace with the Arab world. But there is something to be said about the way the Jewish settlements are perceived by the international community. In other words, it is perception and not reality that is the real existential threat to Israel.

Despite a major petition bearing the signatures of more than 1,000 lawyers, scholars, jurists and diplomats from around the world – all of whom agree the Jewish settlements are legal and that the concept of “1967 lines” does not exist in international law – the European Union remains stubbornly committed to the delegitimization of Israeli communities beyond the Green Line. A spokesperson for EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton (who was the recipient of the petition) has proclaimed that EU policy towards Israel remains unaltered.

This misperception of Israel’s legal position in the so-called occupied territories is the reason why Catherine Ashton is lobbying EU commissioners with the express aim of issuing guidelines on the labeling of Jewish settlement products that would apply to 28 European countries. The EU has also issued guidelines advising member states not to give grants, awards or loans to Israeli entities operating over the Green Line.

One of the byproducts of this European embargo is Palestinian job losses. The economic destruction of Israeli businesses could result in thousands of Palestinians losing their livelihoods. Needless to say, these Palestinians are not happy with the prospect of an embargo. Apart from the unfairness, there is a real security issue. Unemployed men with families to feed are likely to become restless and resentful. Resentment breeds violence – and violence in the “West Bank” usually results in Israeli casualties.

The EU’s position vis-à-vis grants and loans also damages Israel’s higher education and research sectors. As things stand, Ariel University (where five per cent of students are Palestinians) is ineligible to participate in the lucrative Horizon 2020 research and development program. But worst of all is the fact that the EU –in tandem with Obama administration – is using the threat of boycotts to force Israel into making painful and potentially lethal concessions, such as the release of 104 Palestinian terrorists.

Why is the EU so hung up about Jews living and working beyond the Green Line? After all, the existence of the Jewish settlements in the so-called West Bank is not particularly contentious. A two-state solution (should it ever happen) would allow for land swaps, thereby “legitimizing” many of these Jewish communities. It is the final status of Jerusalem and the Palestinian myth of the “right to return” which are the issues most likely to derail John Kerry’s peace talks.

Perhaps Europe’s obsession with the location of Jewish homes and businesses is a hangover from those dark days (or centuries) when a litany of princes, popes and priests (and ultimately the Nazis) all decreed where Jews were allowed to live and work. Fast forward to the 21st century and we have a situation where Jews are being ostracized because they dare to build houses, schools and yeshivas – not in central or eastern Europe but in Israel’s biblical heartland.

How is it that Europe, which is responsible for extermination of one-third of world Jewry, has the audacity to dictate policy to a tiny country that is home to the descendants of Holocaust survivors? I cannot be the only person in Europe who is repulsed by this hypocrisy. Or has Europe fallen so low that nobody even notices the EU’s selfish duplicity?

Antipathy towards Jewish self-determination may be one explanation for the EU’s attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But perhaps Europe’s unquestioned support for the Palestinians is also motivated by a desire to resurrect European influence in the Middle East. By coalescing into a single powerful unit, the once-great imperial powers of Britain, France and Germany are now in a position to flex their diplomatic muscles under the guise of pan-European unity.

The first project of this new Euro-imperialism is to build yet another Arab state and shrink the borders of the world’s only Jewish state. This seems like an unfortunate rerun of events that took place nearly a century ago. In 1921, Britain divided the Jewish national home into Palestine and Transjordan. And in 1937 the Peel Commission Partition Plan (another British initiative) recommended the division of the Jewish homeland in order to make way for another Arab state. This was rejected by the Arab Higher Committee on the grounds that Palestine belongs to the “whole Arab and Muslim worlds,” a belief that is shared by Hamas and some elements of the Palestinian Authority.

Whenever Europe is involved in the affairs of the Middle East, the Arabs get more territory and the Jews get less.  On the surface, this seems like a crude equation but it is nonetheless true. And if EU policymakers and their friends in the White House have their way, Israel will be driven from east Jerusalem, Hebron and the Jordan Valley, thereby robbing the Jewish people of their heritage and depriving them of their security. But then again, Europe has always rather enjoyed robbing the Jews of their rights.

Israel should not let itself be bullied by the bullies in Brussels and Washington. And on no account should Israel’s Foreign Ministry agree to Europe’s demand to surrender Israeli rights over east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the so-called West Bank. If this means relinquishing a research partnership worth hundreds of millions of dollars, then so be it. Israel needs to show Europe that it is no longer prepared to be pushed around by Catherine Ashton and her EU cronies.

 

Jewish settlements are legal, EU is told

A petition, containing the signatures of over 1,000 respected diplomats and legal experts from around the world, has been delivered to the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

According to the text of the petition, the EU is wrong to believe that Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria are illegal, and that the term “1967 lines” does not exist in international law.

Legal scholars from South Africa, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Singapore, India, Greece, Malta, Holland, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Mexico and Peru, have signed the petition.

The man responsible for the petition is British-born Alan Baker, director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

It comes as the EU considers whether to introduce separate labeling for products made by Jews in Judea and Samaria, a policy that would apply to all 28 EU member states.

In an interview with Israeli news organization Arutz Sheva, Mr Baker explained why it is incorrect to distinguish between Israel and Judea and Samaria, saying there is “no such thing” as the 1967 lines.

“There never was such a thing. The matter of the borders is on the agenda of the negotiations. The EU cannot dictate a subject that is on the agenda of the negotiations. The pre-1967 lines are [1949] armistice lines. These are not recognized lines or security lines. In the Oslo process, it was agreed between us and the Palestinians that the matter of borders will be negotiated.”

He continued: “The term ‘1967 lines’ does not appear anywhere in our agreement with the Palestinians, therefore it is a legal and factual aberration to determine that these are our lines.”

Mr Baker also told Arutz Sheva that the settlements should be considered legal under international law because Jewish settlers have freely chosen to live in Judea and Samaria; they have not been forcibly transferred to the territory by the Israeli government.

Given the opportunity, I am sure Mr Baker would draw upon several other lines of argument to support the case for the Jewish settlements. In his stead, I shall attempt to outline the main legal underpinning of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

We have to go back nearly a hundred years to discover the origin of the settlements’ legality. Firstly, there was the 1920 San Remo conference, in which Britain (following the collapse of the Ottoman empire) was instructed to establish a Jewish national home on territory covering what would become Israel, Jordan and part of the Golan Heights.

Then came the British Mandate for Palestine, a legal commission established and confirmed by the League of Nations (an early version of the UN) in 1922, which formalized the creation of two states – a Jewish homeland in “Palestine” and an Arab homeland called Transjordan (now simply Jordan).

Significantly, the Mandate not only legalized the immigration of Jews to Palestine, it encouraged close settlement of all the land, including Judea and Samaria.

Two years after the Second World War, the British handed the Mandate to the UN, which recommended (rather than enforced) a partition of the nascent Jewish homeland. Despite already having Transjordan, the Arabs rejected the offer of partition and declared war on the Palestinian Jews. This resulted in the Jordanian annexation of Judea and Samaria (and renamed the West Bank). At the insistence of the Arabs, the 1949 armistice line was “not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary.”

In 1967, Israel won control of the West Bank after a war of self-defense. UN Security Council Resolution 242 recommended Israeli withdrawal from territories in return for the right “to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” At a conference in Khartoum the Arabs refused to negotiate or make peace with Israel. In fact, they refused to recognize Israel at all.

Israel’s critics sometimes employ the Fourth Geneva Convention to argue that the settlements are illegal. But the Fourth Geneva Convention pertains only to cases of occupation of a sovereign entity. Because of the Arab refusal to reach an agreement in 1948, the West Bank never became the legal territory of any sovereign entity, not even Jordan.

A territory is only occupied if it is captured in war from an established and recognized sovereign. Jordan was never an established or recognized sovereign of the West Bank. Therefore, Israel is not an occupier and the West Bank is not occupied land.

As such, Judea and Samaria is unclaimed Mandate land and should therefore be referred to as “disputed” territory. Israel’s capture of the West Bank in 1967 merely restored the territory to its legal status under the Mandate of 1922, which has never been superseded in law, not even by the 1947 partition plan.

In short, the settlers are simply enacting the Mandate and they should be allowed to continue with this enterprise without interference or condemnation. This legal truth should form a core part of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Aliyah – France’s loss is Israel’s gain

France has a big problem. I am not talking about the dire economic conditions in the eurozone or the number of French troops fighting Islamists in Mali. I am talking about the ugly problem of anti-Semitism that has seen French Jews flee their native country for the safety of Israel and even the UK.

In the past few days, around 400 Jews have left France to live in Israel because of the unbearable anti-Semitism in their home country. Another 300 French Jews are expected to arrive in Israel over the next few weeks, rising to 2,500 by the end of the year. Many of those who make Aliyah cite Muslim anti-Semitism as the reason for leaving.

To illustrate the point, a recent report by the Service de Protection de la Communaute Juive (SPCJ) contains some unedifying figures. Physical and verbal attacks against Jews in France have increased by 82 per cent, rising from 171 cases in 2011 to 315 cases in 2012. Worryingly, a quarter of these incidents involved the use of a weapon.

The same report also contained the shocking observation that in the days following the Toulouse murders in March 2010, there was an average of nine anti-Semitic incidents every 24 hours. After the bombing of a kosher supermarket in Sarcelles, there were a further 28 incidents in the following week.

The report by the SPCJ makes it clear that the number of anti-Semitic attacks outweighs the number of other racist attacks. In fact, the increase in anti-Semitic acts in France in 2012 was more than 8 times higher than the increase of other racist and xenophobic acts. This clearly shows that France has a problem with anti-Semitism, rather than racism in general.

French Jews speak of a climate of fear in France. Most of the attacks take place on the street and on public transport. Many Jews say they are afraid to read Hebrew books on the trains or wear a Star of David in public. Paris is the worst place to live if you are Jewish. Indeed, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the capital vastly outstrips Judeophobic incidents in Marseille, Lyon and Strasbourg.

But even in places where there are fewer anti-Semitic incidents (such as Marseille), the attacks are disturbing and are strangely reminiscent of fascist Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. The following is an excerpt from the SPCJ report:

A Jewish young man and his friend is yelled at by a group of individuals: “We are for Palestine; we don’t like Jews; we’re gonna kill you. We’re gonna exterminate you all.” The two men keep walking when about 10 individuals storm onto them. The victim is hit on the head, which makes him fall. He is then kicked all over the body while on the ground. They steal his gold Star of David. He suffers from a sprain neck, an internal hemorrhage and needs stitches near the eye.

This is shocking but typical of the wave of anti-Semitic attacks sweeping Europe. But the media is eerily silent on the issue. It’s as if newspapers and TV broadcasters don’t quite believe this is happening. Or perhaps they just don’t care.

While many French Jews have got on a plane to Israel to escape the violence, some have sought sanctuary in the UK, which is surprising given the level of British hostility towards Jews and Zionists. Even so, many French Jews have decided that London is a good place to be, with St John’s Wood and South Kensington being the most favored places of refuge.

In fact, St John’s Wood Synagogue in London has set up a separate French minyan, attended by 120 people every Shabbat. Rabbi Mordechai Fhima, who is from Paris, leads the growing congregation. “Every Shabbat there are new faces,” he says. “My congregants tell me that here they can practice as a Jew more openly.”

Britain’s outgoing chief rabbi, Lord Sacks, has spoken out against Judeophobia in Europe, saying that “the position of Jews in Europe today is very difficult.” He has expressed deep concern that the legal question marks over circumcision and shechita have left Jews wondering whether it is possible to remain in Europe.

The sad truth is that Europe has never looked after its Jewish communities. Even after the Holocaust, the political establishment prefers to demonize the Jewish people, particularly settlers in Judea and Samaria. And instead of spending money on tackling anti-Semitism, the EU donates millions of euros to the feckless Palestinians who spend the cash on anti-Semitic textbooks in order to indoctrinate Arab schoolchildren.

I sincerely hope that those Jews who have sought sanctuary in the UK find peace and quiet in the suburbs of St John’s Wood and Kensington. But anti-Semitism in Britain – often masquerading as anti-Zionism – is a real and growing problem. An unholy mix of left-wing Israelophobia, Islamic Jew-hatred and political apathy over the fate of Jews in Judea and Samaria has severely distorted political discourse in the UK. Indeed, there is not a single mainstream national newspaper that is friendly towards Israel. Nor is there a mainstream political party that has the guts to stand up to the Palestinian lobby.

So, I will not be too surprised if French Jews in England realize their mistake and decide to make Aliyah. Of course, Europe’s loss will be Israel’s gain. And here lies the paradox. Muslim anti-Semites long for the day when “Palestine” (i.e. Eretz Israel) is Judenrein. But their hatred of Jews is having the opposite effect. More and more Jews are going to Israel. The fact that Muslims and their anti-Zionist fellow travelers are responsible for Jews making Aliyah is a delicious irony.

It is possible that some Jews fleeing persecution in Europe will take up residence in Judea and Samaria. After all, Israel is a small country and there are a limited number of vacant houses within the Green Line. Therefore it is impractical for Catherine Ashton and her EU cohorts to call for the dismantling of Jewish settlements when so many Europeans Jews need a place to live.

If the exodus of Jews from France and the rest of Europe continues, then the building of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria is both necessary and inevitable. Tzipi Livni may want to bear this in mind while she negotiates with the Palestinians.

 

 

 

Catherine Ashton – a symbol of European folly

Catherine Ashton represents everything that is wrong with the European Union. Chosen for the role of EU foreign policy chief in 2009, she has never been elected and even now she is unknown to the vast majority of ordinary Europeans. Her political experience is paltry, unless you count her role as national treasurer in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, a Soviet-funded anti-war group which was at its height in Britain during the 1980s.

Since her appointment in 2009, Ashton has repeatedly shown that she has no understanding of the conflict between Israel and the Arab world. Her latest effort to introduce separate labeling for products made by Jews in Judea and Samaria demonstrates her contempt for the people of Israel. Ashton is going to great lengths to secure support from the seven EU commissioners who are responsible for justice, industry, taxation, agriculture, consumer protection, trade and internal markets. Her ultimate aim is to issue guidelines on the labeling of Jewish settlement products that would apply to all 28 EU member states. She clearly hopes to isolate and embarrass Israel, with the added effect of damaging its economy in the process.

Unfortunately, Ashton’s legendary incompetence and foolishness is symbolic of the EU’s inept relationship with Israel. Although there are strong legal and economic ties between the EU and the Jewish state, relations are constantly under strain because of the former’s condescending attitude towards settlers in Judea and Samaria. Since the late 1990s, both sides have been in dispute over the legal treatment of products exported to the EU from the so-called West Bank. Ashton, who is bereft of original thinking at the best of times, is simply regurgitating the EU’s tiresome anti-settler stance.

The EU’s outmoded approach to Israel and the settlers ought to be challenged. But it is difficult to do so when the EU is economically and politically committed to the complete dismantling of the Jewish settlements in order to make way for an independent Palestinian state. The EU has squandered around 5 billion euros in development aid to the Palestinians over the past 20 years. At the start of 2012, the EU contributed another 1.1 million euros to the PA’s so-called “Private Sector Reconstruction in Gaza” program, which provided financial support to businesses destroyed or damaged by Operation Cast Lead – a war that was started by Hamas.

The money flowing out of Europe into the hands of the Palestinians is a core component of the unimaginatively-titled Action Plan, which is designed to “create the conditions for developing an increasingly close relationship in preparation for a future Palestinian State, going beyond co-operation, to involve a significant measure of economic integration and deepening of political cooperation.” But the Action Plan goes further than just establishing economic ties. It aims to establish a nation state based on the European model. But given the Palestinians’ history of flouting even the most basic of human rights, this is an absurd expectation.

Oblivious to the Palestinians’ real goal of destroying Israel, the EU is acting under the illusion that it can persuade the Palestinians to create a democratic country, where the rule of law is upheld and the rights of minorities are protected (presumably this doesn’t include the rights of Jewish settlers). Remarkably, the EU also expects the Palestinians to co-operate in the international fight against terrorism, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. I am not joking.

The EU’s utopian vision of a democratic Palestine would be laughable if wasn’t so devious. The EU is pre-empting final status negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians by urging the latter to carry out construction projects in Area C and east Jerusalem without Israel’s cooperation. The EU also wants the Palestinians to become more politically active in east Jerusalem in order to create conditions for a future Palestinian capital. In effect, Europe has dispensed with the Oslo Accords and is urging the Palestinians to act unilaterally.

What is also lamentable is the fact that the EU sees nothing wrong in spending European taxpayers’ money to help build roads, utilities and hospitals for a bunch of people who have committed several acts of terror on European soil, most notably the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, the 1981 Antwerp bombing, and the Rome and Vienna airport attacks of 1985. European money is also being used to pay for anti-Semitic and anti-Western propaganda and to finance terrorist acts against Israelis. In truth, there is little control over how European money is spent by the Palestinians. And I suspect the European political establishment isn’t particularly interested if it is used to finance attacks on Jewish settlers.

Why is the EU acting in such an irresponsible fashion? Perhaps its behavior (as exemplified by Catherine Ashton) can be explained by the ambition to carve out an anti-American niche in world affairs. By superseding the Soviet Union as the dominant left-wing force in the Western hemisphere, the EU has inherited Moscow’s political, economic and diplomatic ties to the Arab world. Furthermore, the EU uses the Palestinian issue to ingratiate itself with the growing Muslim community inside Europe’s borders. And it is a community which is virulently anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.

Indeed, this new influx of Islamic anti-Semitism has rekindled old prejudices in Europe. The fetishization of the Palestinian issue in the corridors of European power has effectively legitimized the actions of anti-Semitic thugs who firebomb synagogues and desecrate Jewish cemeteries. The anti-Semitic cartoon in a German left-wing newspaper, the glorification of Palestinian terrorism in a French art gallery and the recurring physical attacks on Jews are just a few examples of the depressing decline in moral and intellectual standards in Europe.

It seems there is no reversing of the trend, either. And there won’t be – not until Catherine Ashton and her EU cohorts stop their irresponsible anti-Zionist and anti-American posturing and start to treat the Jewish people with the respect and dignity they deserve.