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September 6, 2015 9:21 pm

Can Europe’s Leaders Halt the Obsession With Attacking Israel?

avatar by Gerald Steinberg

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EU flags in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. Photo: Amio Cajander via Wikimedia Commons.

EU flags in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. Photo: Amio Cajander via Wikimedia Commons.

Much of the Middle East is burning, but official Europe remains fixated on Israel. In Brussels, Stockholm, the Hague, Copenhagen, and London, the mythologies of the 1970s remain unchallenged, perhaps because dealing with the real threats to Europe from the chaotic Middle East reality – ISIS, Syria, desperate refugees, Iran, etc. –  is overwhelming. So instead of focusing on critical issues, European Union officials are preparing to escalate their war on Israel through laws requiring the labeling of products produced in the non-existent “Palestinian Occupied Territories.”

This obsession is advanced by the activities of senior European officials, such as John Gatt-Rutter, who is finishing a four year term as the European Union’s Ambassador to the West Bank, Gaza, and UNRWA (the UN refugee agency that has perpetuated the Mideast conflict and anti-Israel hatred for more than 65 years). A veteran Arabist from Malta, Gatt-Rutter had previously headed the EU’s Mashraq/Maghreb (MaMa) policy group, and advised ex-EU foreign policy head Javier Solana on the Middle East Peace Process.

During his tenure, Gatt-Rutter reinforced the prevailing European mythologies while funds for anti-peace and anti-Israel NGOs continued to flow. His lengthy article published in the Palestine-Israel Journal (2015), optimistically entitled “The European Union’s Role in Facilitating a Resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” is a reflection of his policies, beliefs, and actions over the past four years.

This article, like his public statements and recent media interviews, repeats many standard catch-phrases – the obstacles to peace are again blamed on “the Israeli occupation” and “illegal settlements.” Not surprisingly, he fails to devote a single word to the chaos and violence throughout the Middle East – as if the brutality of ISIS, the Syrian civil war, Iran, and Hezbollah do not exist. His artificial map is restricted to the small area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

In this fictional world, Israel is all-powerful, and Palestinians are portrayed as victims incapable of taking responsibility. He patronizingly chides them for internal disputes and lack of unity, noting that they “would be well advised to restore their national and democratic project through holding elections.” But Gatt-Rutter skirts the abject failure of the EU’s efforts to promote democratic institution building in the West Bank, or the fact that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is in the tenth year of the four year term to which he was elected in 2005.

Furthermore, the departing EU ambassador to the Palestinians strikingly ignores the many brutal terror attacks that took place while he was in the Jerusalem office: not a word about the Har Nof Synagogue massacre or the murder of the Fogel family.

In contrast, and following the usual pattern, Gatt-Rutter devotes considerable attention to suffering in Gaza, and recounts the “destruction I saw driving through Shuja’iyya.” But he did not see or mention any hint of the thousands of Hamas “fighters,” terror tunnels, or the 4,563 rockets and mortar shells launched from Gaza houses, mosques, hospitals, and schools at Israeli civilians – every one a war crime.

Gatt-Rutter also makes no mention of the drum-beat of Palestinian incitement that legitimizes the violence, including videos of hate and ceremonies that honor terrorist “martyrs.” And although he has been the top European official responsible for overseeing the massive budget with which taxpayers subsidize UNRWA, including its notorious spokesman, Chris Gunness, this organization and its failures are absent from his overview.

Under Gatt-Rutter, the EU increasingly engaged in illegal building projects that created significant environmental damage. Avoiding any pretense of objectivity, he condemns Israel for the “demolitions of Palestinian property” that have, in his view, “poisoned the atmosphere and destroyed trust.” Responding to the Israeli efforts to enforce the law, he boasts that “the international community, with the European Union at the forefront has stepped in” to stop this illegal activity.

Similarly, he was a leading proponent of European promotion of boycotts and product labeling – the soft and socially acceptable part of the anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic BDS campaign, closely matching the activities of fringe NGOs. This policy has exacerbated Israeli-European tensions, adding to the distrust that many Israelis have of the EU.

In his parting shot, Gatt-Rutter launches his own threats against Israel. He calls for “taking further measures to strengthen respect for international law,” meaning expanded lawfare cases, which are largely funded by the EU through NGO allies. His call for expanded economic warfare (also promoted by NGOs) is expressed as “ensuring compliance with legislation covering preferential treatment in the area of trade; restrictions on the use of funding for the benefit of settlements; advice to businesses and investors working in settlements; and settlement product labeling.”

These measures, readers are told, “could make a meaningful contribution in favor of a peace agreement,” and help “to re-balance Israeli-Palestinian negotiating positions within the Middle East peace process.”

But Gatt-Rutter is wrong, as his four year record demonstrates. If the EU extends the confrontational measures he and others have advocated, there is no evidence to suggest that they will have a positive impact, but rather the opposite.

Indeed, the most important conclusion based on Gatt-Rutter term as the EU’s representative to the Palestinians is the need for a new approach. In appointing Gatt-Rutter’s successor, Frederica Mogherini – the EU’s current foreign policy czar – has an opportunity to move away from the myths, paternalism, and obsessive confrontations with Israel, and to launch a positive approach.

Gerald Steinberg is a professor of political science at Bar Ilan University and President of NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute.

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  • Solomon2

    I think we Jews have to think of the E.U. not just as an international institution but possibly a criminal one under international law and seek to gather evidence to that effect.

  • Yale

    The settlements provide the only incentive the Palestinians have to negotiate at all. Terming them illegal removes this incentive and thus guarantees that peace will not be achieved.

    The EU should congratulate itself for all the suffering its interfrerence has brought to the Palestinian people.

  • Wm. J. Levy

    I think I’m going out today to “kill some Jews.”

    That’w what’s said by Jew haters both in America and those Muslims living in France.

    Why not? They’re so easy to kill because there’s no repercussions; you just shoot and kill as many as you want and no backlash.

    Kill those at Charlie Hebdo and the world reacts with thousands of protesters. Did the Jews of France or Paris march for the Jews shot and killed in the Kosher market which that idiot in the White House called a “workplace incident”?

    When Jew haters start to be afraid and worry for their own safety then Jews won’t be the easy, safe targets to kill.

    Give me a thousand tough,and strong Jews and the Holocaust would never have happened.

  • Jorge_Banner

    The title is completely misguided.
    The real question is “do they want to?”
    And the answer is simply “no” because eurabians are a bunch of Jew haters.
    THAT . . . is the real and only thing “uniting” eurabians.
    They can agree on nothing except their never dying Jew hatred.
    They murdered and expelled their few million Jews and replaced them with tens of millions of pisslims.
    They deserve what’s coming to them.
    Perhaps their last thought while being murdered by a pisslim will be “we should have kept the Jews”

  • Seymour Broad

    Time to defund the UN and send this debating society out of the US. The General Assembly has been turned into an anti-Israel/anti-Semitic body and defunding it will serve to bury it.

  • BMS

    Does the UN exist for ANY reason other than to continually condemn Israel?

  • Frank Adam

    On what authority apart from curiosity and desire to interfere do the EU and several other including a raft of NGO’s exist in Israel at all?
    What are the legalities of Israel having to tolerate the existence of foreign NGO’s and foreign diplomatic missions in the territories she took in 1967?
    Why does Israel simply not entry to these busybodies and their goods?

  • Eric R.

    “Can Europe’s Leaders Halt the Obsession With Attacking Israel? ”

    No, they can’t. They are filthy, degenerate, unrepentant genocidal Nazi scumbag savages who care about only one thing:

    Finishing the work of their hero Adolf Hitler and wiping every last Jew off the face of the earth.

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    There is no one quick-sure answer to the vast discrimination and long-standing hatred for the Jewish people. Perhaps, though, a new person in the position as the EU’s foreign policy overseer will bring a more equitable approach to dealing with the countries of the world, including Israel. Perhaps, this new individual will see the uselessness of scapegoating one tiny country for the evils that are pervading most of Europe, all of the Middle East, and parts of Africa and Asia. It is time now for such a person to reassess with a clear-thinking, critically sound disposition what would fairly help ameliorate the depravity the EU needs to deal with in its ongoing international trade forums.

  • Richard Sherwin

    it’s unlikely the EU can change its focus. as the saying goes, long after people cease believing in Gd they worship the devil. And all the EU has left of its committment to the remnants of Christendom is its belief in the jew as the devil. Thus making any attack or sneer or slander of Israel (Europe and Xndom is successfully 99.44% judenrein, with its moslem immigrants working away happily to make it 100%) justified. And if the EU can make money from its moslem allies to bolster their high devil road, some much the happier for such hypocrites. Cant even get a little self justified schadenfreude here, since i wouldnt wish my worst enemy life as a dhimmi. And the syrian immigrantion is simply stage 2 of the reconquista… notice the silence from the rich arab countries…who also support the radical jihadi imams thruout Europe.

  • Mrs/Miss/Ms Mogherini will not move away from the myths – she was chosen because she adheres to them.

  • We can continue reacting forever against the preposterous accusations of “the Israeli occupation” and “the illegal settlements,” but as long as the Government of Israel does not assert its internationally recognized rights to the land, nothing will be solved.

    Isn’t is a supreme irony that Gatt-Rutter calls for “taking further measures to strengthen respect for international law,” while Israel remains silent on its incontrovertible rights enshrined in international law?

  • Ephraim

    She has the opportunity, along with the title to this article. But, as with the subject, she will not because she will choose not to, as do all the Nazis who have risen to positions of high power in European societies. They have waited a long time (70 years) to bring back their true beliefs, and now they can and do.

  • ART

    The EU will continue shunning Israel. In good old fashioned tradition the EU can not abide a strong Israel. Jews must be a weak, dispersed minority dependent upon the whim of the local rulers

  • steven L

    It will require mass singular mutation. Never happened in the history of humanity.