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April 5, 2018 12:29 pm

EU and UN Go AWOL on Hamas’ Gaza March

avatar by Daniel S. Mariaschin

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Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas at Palestinian rioters on the Gaza border, March 30, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

Last week’s Palestinian “March of Return” on the Gaza border with Israel produced predictable responses from the European Union and the United Nations.

In a statement, the UN condemned the killing of Palestinians “after (the) peaceful protest turned violent.” It called for an “independent and transparent investigation” of the clashes along the border.

A UN meeting, hastily called on Passover eve, was addressed by representatives of nine countries, as well as the Palestinians’ “Permanent Observer.” During the meeting the word “Hamas” was not mentioned once.

The EU’s senior diplomat, Federica Mogherini, called for an investigation into Israel’s response to the protests. She then used the timeworn line “while Israel has a right to protect its borders, the use of force must be proportionate.” This cliche is invoked whenever Israel needs to use force against terrorists or violent protesters. There was nothing in her statement about Hamas or its role in concocting the crisis, nor its use of human shields or calls for Israel’s destruction.

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In their statements, both the EU and the UN called for a resumption of negotiations. Negotiations with whom? Hamas is dedicated to Israel’s demise. It cannot be negotiated with. That call is a misplaced, throwaway line.

There has not been much media analysis of Hamas’ cynical and manipulative effort to exploit the protests in order to raise the profile of the Palestinians after they have been displaced by other crises in the Middle East.

The Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party jumped on the bandwagon, even though it has again had a falling out with Hamas after a brief “reconciliation.” Fatah commented that the Palestinian flag is “soaked in the blood of the martyrs.”

One might say that the EU and the UN are back in their comfort zone on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The tired warnings about the use of “disproportionate force” and the right of the Palestinians to “freedom of expression” may resound in some Western capitals, but they are increasingly falling on deaf ears in the Gulf and a number of other Arab countries.

These countries know what the Europeans and others will not acknowledge: Hamas is a corrupt actor and its radical Islamic extremism has many of the region’s Sunni regimes in its crosshairs. They also know that the Iranians are pleased to stir the pot against them by using Hamas or other proxies wherever the opportunity presents itself.

How is it possible that the EU, which has designated Hamas a terrorist organization, could not even mention the organization by name when it issued a statement about the Gaza march, which was organized by that very group? Or that Hamas’ daily calls for the destruction of Israel can’t even be hinted at when discussing the motives behind the demonstrations?

Europe is stuck in a time warp when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A friend of the Palestinians on many issues — dating back to its Venice Declaration of 1980 endorsing Palestinian statehood, which it negotiated with Yasser Arafat’s PLO — the EU cannot bring itself to castigate the disingenuousness and obfuscation of the Palestinian Authority. They are doing the same regarding Hamas’ attempts to sacrifice human lives in order to advance its nihilistic and destructive ambitions.

The EU’s double standards on Israel are another tiresome exercise in hypocrisy from Brussels. The Gaza march was not a matter of Palestinian “freedom of expression.” Indeed, what kind of free speech does either the Palestinian Authority or Hamas allow their own people? And even with the EU’s loose border controls, none of its member countries would allow a terrorist-directed and organized “peaceful march” to cross its borders.

As for the UN, its record of anti-Israel bias, especially at agencies like UNESCO and the Human Rights Council is well known and well documented.

For the moment, Hamas has figured out a way to recapture the headlines. It has done so in part because the UN and the EU have once again signaled that Hamas will escape international opprobrium. Left alone in the multilateral area, Israel is again cast as the villain.

By not specifically criticizing Hamas and its role in the march, by not acknowledging the direct involvement of Hamas operatives acting as agents provocateurs on the ground, by not pointing out Hamas’ desire to make “martyrs” of women and children, and by not speaking about that organization’s destroy-Israel-at-any-cost raison d’etre, the UN and the EU exacerbate the crisis — as they have so many other times.

It’s time to stop indulging those who are seeking Israel’s destruction, who look to Teheran for aid and comfort, and who are attempting to bring further chaos to a region that is already wracked by destruction and disorder. The message to the UN and the EU is this: Call out Hamas for what it is or lose whatever remaining relevance you have.

Daniel S. Mariaschin is Executive Vice President and CEO of B’nai B’rith International.

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