By Victor Rosenthal
Israel has many enemies. There are our “hard enemies” that fight us with weapons and explosives. And then there is the European Union.
The European Union is an organization of monumental size and bureaucratic complexity. It has been compared to the Holy Roman Empire, but I’m sure it has more functionaries today than that sprawling affair ever did. There is a European Council, a Council of the European Union (they are not the same), a European Commission, and a European Parliament with no less than 705 seats. There are courts and a central bank. There are agencies beyond counting. The EU’s draft budget for 2020 includes expenditures of more than 168 billion Euros (US $182 billion or 641 billion Israeli shekels). This is more than 1% of the total GDP of its 27 member states (not including the UK, which had the good sense to leave the Union on January 1 of this year).
Although the individual member nations influence the EU’s decisions via the councils and the parliament, there is no question that they have traded a great deal of sovereignty and freedom of action for the financial benefits of membership. Sometimes, as a majority of the citizens of the UK decided, this does not serve their national interests. It’s felt by many that the EU’s bureaucracy is too far removed from the citizens of the various member countries. The EU’s councils are made up of heads of state and ministers, and the massive Parliament is elected according to a system of proportional representation like Israel’s, in which the voters choose between parties which in turn pick the candidates. Overall turnout in these elections is about 51% of eligible voters.
As a citizen of Israel, my concern is that the EU also has a foreign policy, a very active one, and I don’t like it at all. The policy is mostly determined by voting in the Council of the EU, which is composed of ministers from the member states. It is implemented by the EU Commission, led by the Vice-President of the Commission, who sports the impressive title of “High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.” This position is held today by Josep Borrell, the Spanish representative on the Commission, who recently succeeded Federica Mogherini.
To give you an idea of what we can expect from him, Borrell recently announced that the “most important item” on the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council agenda for its meeting this Friday will be “Israeli annexation plans.” In a previous statement, he hinted at the possibility of EU sanctions on Israel if it carried out its plan.
In addition to the fact that it’s none of their damn business, it can hardly be the most important foreign thing that is going on – or that might at some point in the future go on – in the world. So it appears that Borrell is following in the footsteps of Mogherini and her predecessor, Catherine Ashton. Ashton once compared the terrorist murder of four Jews, including three children aged three to eight, at the Otzar Hatorah school in Toulouse, France, with “what’s happening in Gaza” (what was happening at the time was a war provoked by Hamas rocket fire). Mogherini was usually more classy, but her positions on such subjects as “settlements,” Jerusalem, labeling of products from Judea/Samaria, Gaza, the Iran deal, and others have been consistently anti-Israel.
The EU’s grandparent, the European Coal and Steel Community, was created after WWII as a deliberate first step toward unifying Europe economically and politically, beginning with those parts of the economy that were felt to be the most important to making war, and therefore over which the founders wanted to establish international control. This organization, initially including only six countries, grew into the European Economic Community, and ultimately the EU, by way of various treaties and agreements. It is important to understand that the union was intended to ultimately wipe out not just the economic barriers to trade between Europeans, but also the social and ideological walls that made possible the nationalistic feelings which they believed were responsible for the world wars of the 20th century.
Yoram Hazony, in his book “The Virtue of Nationalism” argues that the project was misconceived. He believes that the wars were not caused by extreme nationalism among nation-states, but rather by the clash of expansionist empires and states with imperial ambitions. The problem, in other words, was not that nationalist nation-states fiercely favor and guard their particular cultures, languages, religions, and ideologies; but rather that empires and would-be empires seek to assert their dominance over their neighbors, because they wish to universalize their ideologies.
A nation-state, says Hazony, offers a much better chance for the various tribes and clans and peoples that are the basic units of human society to create and enjoy the kind of political structure that most suits their culture. An empire, on the other hand, at most empowers only its dominant culture – there is one in all empires – and subjugates others in its zeal to universalize its “perfect” ideology.
The EU has no military forces of its own, and most of its members are relatively weak, preferring to nestle under the nuclear umbrella of the US. But the EU has a potent weapon in the form of its treasury, and it uses its money to promote its liberal, internationalist, anti-religious (except Islam, which it is too cowardly to oppose), ideology – in part to atone for the post-colonialist and post-Nazi guilt of some of its members. While decrying imperialism, it has built an empire in Europe that rivals the achievements of Rome and Byzantium; and its resources are committed to spreading its liberal ideology, defeating competitors (e.g., the new Russian Empire of Vladimir Putin), and crushing rebellions (e.g., Orban’s Hungary) as well as successful independent nation-states, like Israel.
Israel is a particular target of the EU Euro-weapon for several reasons: first, it is proudly nationalist; second – thanks to the ideological cover provided by the KGB’s propaganda offensive of the 1960s and 70s – it can be falsely portrayed as colonialist and racist, thus providing the Europeans a way to assuage their guilt for their own colonialist and racist past; third, its local enemies are Muslims, providing a way for Europe to pay jizya to its own uneasy Muslim minorities; and finally, it’s a Jewish state – and here no further explanation is necessary.
The EU is the largest funder of UNRWA, the Palestinian refugee agency that exists to maintain a constantly growing population of stateless people, which it educates – some 98% of UNRWA staff are Palestinians, many of them members of Hamas, Fatah, or other terrorist organizations – to hate Jews and Israelis, and to blame them for the ill-treatment of the original refugees and their descendants by the Arab nations in which most of them live. UNRWA is set up to reward large families and to prevent their becoming independent or being resettled as normal citizens anywhere – except in the context of a “return” to Israel which would displace her Jewish population. The EU gave UNRWA 127 million Euros in 2018.
But that is only the beginning. The EU provides direct financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority, for salaries and pensions, as well as for hospitals, security forces, and other purposes. Much of the “salaries and pensions” are paid to Palestinians imprisoned in Israel for terrorism-related offenses, especially murder – the so-called “pay to slay” program. This aid amounted to 154 million Euros in 2019.
The EU also distributes 5 million Euros per year to “civil society organizations promoting links across the political divide” in Israel and the PA. This includes organizations spreading hate and incitement to terrorism under the cover of “arts and culture,” as well as Israeli and international NGOs that promote BDS, engage in “lawfare” against Israel, try to sway Israeli elections, oppose “normalization’ (i.e., treating Israelis like human beings), and provide a constant flow of propaganda accusing Israel of being an apartheid state, the IDF of deliberately targeting children, and so on. And much of the money that flows from the EU ends up in the pockets of terrorist organizations.
Finally, there are numerous “development projects” by which the EU constructs buildings for the Palestinians in Area C of Judea/Samaria, the part which is supposed to be under Israeli security and civil control, in violation of Israeli zoning and building regulations. Few Palestinians live in these areas, but this creates facts on the ground intended to prevent strategic areas from becoming part of Israel in any future agreement.
Some of the money granted to NGOs and used for development projects is done in cooperation with the governments of various countries, like Germany, France, or the UK. Thus the amounts appearing in the EU budget may be much smaller than the actual amounts involved.
All in all, the “soft war” against Israel is one of the EU’s largest and most ambitious projects.
So who is Israel’s greatest enemy? Is it Hamas and Hezbollah? Or is it Europe, a much older enemy of the Jewish people?