The EU, Terror-Funding and Israel’s Transparency Bill
On 7 December 1970, then-German Chancellor Willy Brandt knelt solemnly before the Warsaw Ghetto in contrition. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Israel faced annihilation, the same Willy Brandt denied German landing rights to US planes carrying emergency supplies to Israel.
Chancellor Angela Merkel occasionally says that Israel’s “right to exist” is Germany’s raison d’etre. Like Brandt, she appears to be two-tongued when it comes to antisemitism. Like the EU, Germany makes a distinction between antisemitism and objecting to Israel’s policies, which on paper seems to be fair. Thus, giving the Hitler salute and denying the Holocaust are illegal. On the other hand, the annual Iran-sponsored Al Quds March through downtown Berlin, calling for the destruction of Israel, is legal. Berlin constantly turns a deaf ear to appeals to ban that march.
The JCPOA (Iran deal) was enthusiastically supported by Germany, enabling Iran to fully develop its nuclear program after a decade, while currently testing “Death to Israel”-marked missiles. However, the same Germany decided that nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes were too risky for Germans. They are to be phased out by 2022.
Germany maintains it has a “special relationship” with Israel, while the EU ambassador to Israel explained that Israel is singled out because “you are one of us.”
The EU countries support various NGOs despite being termed “non-governmental.” Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) provides funding to NGOs as part of its foreign aid programs. Recently, Prof Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor exposed the doublespeak of Germany yet further. The German government annually pays 4 million euros to NGOs in Israel, of which 42% goes to organizations that support BDS and worse, like the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, which advocates violent riots in Judea/Samaria. The German Embassy in Tel Aviv does not deny the funding, but blandly states that Germany does not support boycotts of Israel. They donate to “organizations supporting peace.”
Some of the NGOs funded by the EU are Zochrot, Grassroots Jerusalem and Baladna Arab Youth Association, all of which are committed to getting Palestinian refugees and their third- and fourth-generation descendants to “return,” even though most have never been to Israel. I have met some of these “refugees,” who lead comfortable, middle-class lives in Australia. They certainly do not fit the image of refugees we see on TV. In my recent satire, “The trombone man: tales of a misogynist,” the story depicts one such comfortable refugee who, like his parents, has never been to Israel. Despite these anomalies, the EU generously funds these organizations that are dedicated to Israel’s disappearance as the Jewish state.
The EU therefore supports some organizations dedicated to Israel’s demise, while paying lip service to its “right to exist,” whatever that means. The EU, led by countries such as Germany, also supports labeling people and products from beyond the Green Line — or “Auschwitz borders,” as the late dovish foreign minister Abba Eban called it. Thus, while officially declining to support BDS, the same EU countries fund NGOs that do — all with a straight face.
Unlike the vicious murder of Hallel Ariel (z”l) and countless others before and after her, the EU, committed to democracy and human rights, has been “deeply concerned” about the recent transparency law passed by the Knesset, even though there is no suggestion these NGOs would be banned from practicing their dubious activities. The State Department termed it “chilling,” despite its funds being surreptitiously used to help influence the outcome of Israel’s last election. In the meantime, Europe is reeling with regular terror attacks, for which Europeans cannot find an answer — except to insultingly compare Israel to Putin’s Russia and be “deeply concerned” with a fellow democracy that struggles to maintain some balance in civil rights while upholding its citizens’ right to life.
Israel remains a vibrant democracy despite the underhand tactics of the EU. As Europe grapples with increasing terror, its exaggerated concern with an ally threatened daily by internal and external terror is misplaced and misguided.
NGO Monitor has shown in great detail the doublespeak of the EU countries, which mouth unconvincing platitudes regarding Israel’s “right to exist,” but simultaneously fund many NGOs that promote exactly the opposite.
At the end of the day, it should be remembered that the hidden agendas of many of these NGOs have little to do with “human rights” per se, and more to do with providing conditions that would end the state of Israel, by stressing the Nakba, hope, resilience and the “right of return” for refugees and their descendants.
That is why it is always worth remembering Willy Brandt of 1970 and Willy Brandt of 1973. It sums up Europe perfectly.
Ron Jontof-Hutter is Fellow at the Berlin International Centre for the Study of Antisemitism. He recently authored of the satire “The trombone man: Tales of a misogynist.” This piece was first published in the Jewish Journal.