The EU, No Innocent Bystander, No Honest Broker

By Eli E. Hertz, Myths and Facts

Europe seeks to play the role of neutral mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yet for a host of reasons – most of them self-serving – Europe has demonstrated a clear pro-Arab bias, including insensitivity to Israel’s security needs. Rather than condemn Palestinian Arab terrorist tactics, the European Council’s December 2002 Declaration on the Middle East condemned Israel’s “excessive use of force” and it excuses Arab terrorism that no civilized nation would ever tolerate if faced with similar attacks.

Europe’s claim that it can be an even-handed mediator does not hold water. Besides a poor record in solving problems as colonial powers, member states of the EU would make poor facilitators in the Middle East for several reasons, including their dependence on Arab trade and Arab oil.

As an alliance of 27 western European nations, the EU has staked out a position as one of the four players of the so-called Quartet, which seeks “to promote a just, comprehensive, and lasting settlement of the Middle East conflict.” The other Quartet members include the United States, Russia, and the United Nations, the last largely controlled by the Third World.

Europeans and Jews share a host of cultural values and economic bonds, but the relationship is anomalous in that it includes a strong economic partnership and a weak political partnership.

Europe and Israel share a host of enlightened values. Putting aside the role of Jews in Western culture, the EU and Israel logically ought to be natural partners, since Israel has developed into a vibrant, open free democracy much like the nations of western Europe.

Israel values and upholds freedom of the press and religion, and maintains a judicial system based on the rule of law just as EU member states do. Israel is also committed to human rights, including the rights of women, gays and lesbians, and minorities. For instance, if one examines infant mortality levels, a universally accepted yardstick of commitment to human rights used by the United Nations, Israel has a lower infant mortality rate among its Arab minority than minorities in France, Britain and other European countries. Its social philosophy and health and welfare system are also similar to Europe’s, and its standard of living is on a European level. Culturally, Israel’s admiration and appreciation of classical European culture is almost unprecedented. Israeli theatergoers exceed the number of fans who attend sporting events. The number of orchestras and other ensembles, combined with the number of classical music patrons, is also high.

A Jerusalem Post editorial published in April 2003 reflects the Israeli sense of distrust of Europeans, crystallized by Europe’s realpolitik: “The basis for mistrust is not Europe’s wartime history,” wrote the Post . “What we can’t forget is what has happened since, at times when the chips were down and Israel’s very survival was at stake.” The paper cited the embargo France imposed on Israel on the verge of the outbreak of the Six-Day War that stopped the supply of spare parts for equipment France had previously sold to Israel. And again, Europe demonstrated just how untrustworthy it was when all nations except Portugal refused to allow U.S. cargo planes to fly over their countries to rush emergency supplies to Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The EU’s behavior makes it ineligible as a neutral facilitator in the Arab-Israeli conflict. It should not be allowed to pressure Israel on life-and-death security issues, nor to decide Israel’s destiny.

For the entire article and footnotes please click HERE

December 14, 2010 | Comments »

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