Regavim.. Ari in Amsterdam

‘Et tu,’ EU? No Dutch treat here

By Ari Briggs

PRO-PALESTINIAN PROTESTERS at an Israeli supermarket in the West Bank. Photo: REUTERS

Recently, the EU formally recommended that its 27 member states “prevent” Israeli activity in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem by means of discriminatory labelling of Israeli products from these areas – in effect, an economic boycott of Jewish communities in those regions. This recommendation is clearly immoral, on at least six grounds, and recently I had the privilege of setting these out before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Dutch Parliament. Part of the following comments are based on a speech Caroline Glick gave at an Intelligence Squared debate in January.

First, it attempts to predetermine borders prior to negotiations. Repeated such attempts demonstrate that this approach actually discourages the Palestinians from negotiating final-status issues with Israel. The presence of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria has nothing to do with prospects for peace. We have peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and six agreements with the PLO (of which they were in material breach from day one).

None was contingent on the absence of Jews from any area.

Second, it violates the civil rights of Jews living in Judea and Samaria. In fact, this issue is not about peace at all, but about the abrogation of Jewish civil rights. The EU is in effect stating that Jews should not be allowed to live in these areas, just because they are Jews.

Why should Jews be allowed to live in London, Amsterdam, New York or Sydney, but not in Judea or Jerusalem? How could the Netherlands government and the Dutch people agree to such discrimination? By labelling Jewish products from these areas, they are in effect recommending that a Palestinian state must be ethnically cleansed of Jews before its people will agree to independence.

Third, it is immoral and illegal.

Israel’s national rights to these areas are very strong, at least as valid as any other claimant under international law. And this is not the first time a country has tried to disenfranchise the Jewish people from their land.

The British in 1939 with the infamous White Paper abrogated their responsibility under the Mandate of the League of Nations to encourage “close settlement by Jews on the land.”

They hoped to appease the Arabs who supported the Nazis and were running a terrorist campaign, even then, not only against the Jews, but also against the Allied Powers. In an attempt to appease them, the British in effect declared that the Jews had no rights to this area. And what did the British get for this appeasement? Egyptian King Farouk’s support for the Nazis, a revolt in Iraq, support for the Nazis in Iran and a Nazi party in Syria.

Appeasement didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now.

Fourth, it supports terrorism. This week a disturbing report was released by the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV), an independent body based in the Netherlands which advises government and parliament on foreign policy.

Among other misguided recommendations, it stated that “Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is therefore much desired. Contacts with Hamas should not be avoided.”

In other words, AIV recommends finding common ground with a terrorist organisation whose mandate is genocide, the destruction of the Jewish people. It seems they have found common ground with these murderers, for whom Jews living in Judea and Samaria, but not violent terrorists, are the roadblock to peace.

No, it is the Jews and their “products” who are destroying all prospects for peace. Not those intentionally firing thousands of rockets at the homes of civilians, not those throwing firebombs, not those pelting cars with rocks causing death and injury, but the Jews. They are the problem.

Fifth, it is based on immoral equivalence and a double standard. Labelling products – based not only on geographic origin but on ethnic origin – is pure discrimination. The European Forum’s “working definition” of anti- Semitism explicitly includes applying a double standard to the State of Israel.

So, what are other examples of labelling of products in this manner? What about Turkey, which wishes to join the EU? What of its outright occupation of northern Cyprus? Where are the labelling laws for Turkish goods coming from Northern Cyprus? And what about China, the world’s factory and second largest trading partner of the EU? But they also rule over Tibet. Where are the labelling laws for Chinese products coming from Tibet? Human rights groups accuse the Chinese authorities of the systematic destruction of Tibetan Buddhist culture and the persecution of monks loyal to the Dalai Lama. So where is the EU demand for labelling Chinese products from Tibet? Clearly, the intent to label only Israeli products in this way is a double standard, and therefore, is anti-Semitism by the EU’s own definition.

Sixth, it strengthens efforts to isolate and legitimise Israel. Such actions embolden the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), and encourage it to continue and thrive, leading to comprehensive boycotts against Israel. The Netherlands’ decision to approve the labelling of Jewish products will be a milestone for the BDS movement.

Hopefully the Netherlands will reconsider, for its history and for ours.

Afterword: Han ten Broeke, a member of the Dutch Parliament from VVD, a party in the ruling coalition, attended my speech and asked many insightful questions. A few days later, we learned that due to questions he posed to the other coalition members during their discussions, the Dutch government has decided to remove the labelling laws from its agenda, at least for now.

Original Jerusalem Post


The writer works for Regavim, an independent, professional research institute and policy planning think tank, and can be contacted at Regavim’s mission is to ensure the responsible, legal and environmentally friendly use of Israel’s national lands and the return of the rule of law to all areas and aspects of the land and its preservation.

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