Thursday 13 February 2014

The European Parliament President's poor remarks in Israel may have a silver lining.

The European Parliament President’s poor remarks in Israel may have a silver lining.

Original Thoughts from Barry Shaw.

Israel’s Knesset erupted in uproar when the President of the European Parliament, Martin Shultz, stood at the podium on February 12 and told Israel’s lawmakers that they were depriving Palestinian of water.

He questioned why Israelis can use 70 liters of water while a Palestinian can only use 17. These are grossly false figures. That is not the point. The point is that someone as high as the European parliamentary president stood in the home of Israeli democracy and threw such ridiculous figures at Israeli lawmakers is an insult and an embarrassment to Europe.

Shultz made his statement even more appalling when he excused himself by explaining that he got these figures from a Palestinian boy. Has the European Union become so obsessed with accusing Israel of all the perceived crimes under the sun that their parliamentary leader now hurls an Arab boy’s lies at the Jewish state? Actually, yes. That is where we are right now.

Shultz is not the first to have jaundiced political views about Israel that are tainted with the adoption of a malevolent Palestinian narrative. We have recently witnessed similar manifestations emanating from Oxfam, the British Methodists, and various academic bodies. No doubt we will see many more such vile accusations hurled at Israel in the future for the diseased propaganda of the extremist anti-Israel activists, couched in seductive language, has, indeed, been adopted by the misguided useful idiots in Brussels and other European capitals who are only too keen to finance the festering campaigns against Israel as if they are formed in purity and truth. They are not.

Perhaps the most significant part of Shultz's absurd comments is that it exposed how susceptible the highest people in the European Union and leading politicians are to the false and blatant propaganda claims of radical groups, like BDS and other sponsored NGOs, and how easily and naively they accept ridiculous claims and adopt them as truths etched in tablets of stone brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses himself.
The Israeli voice may be missing when it comes to efficient public diplomacy, but it is truly shocking to discover the inroads that extreme anti-Israel groups have made in the highest political circles of Europe that an important and leading figure, such as Shultz, can accept patently false statements and quote them at a state event in the heart of Israel.

Europe has fallen foul to the hyper-active propaganda machine that targets Israel. Is Europe naïve, or are they really ready to use such inappropriate measures as part of their pressure to get Israel to make dangerous risks for peace?

Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the head of the EU Delegation to Israel, also came out with a troubling statement. He said “The failure of negotiations, particularly if it would be ascribed to continued settlement construction, would not make it possible for EU-Israel relations to achieve their full potential, and carries a risk of Israel becoming increasingly isolated.”

The unfairness of his remarks is both wicked and irksome. Why should Israel take the wrap for the intransigence of the Palestinians? How is it we never hear from the European how they intend to punish them when talks fail? How about the threat of isolating them and stopping their much needed funding? Why is it only Israel living under the cloud of European sanctions? Why aren't the Europeans publicly and officially calling out Palestinian crimes of incitement to violence and a world without Israel?

It is unacceptable for people like Shultz or Lars Faaborg-Andersen to hit us with a fraudulent Palestinian narrative.  On the contrary, they should censure the Palestinians for promoting a message of demonization in their apparently successful attempt to get European and other nations to sanction, boycott, and delegitimize Israel with tales of fiction and falsehood. They should also demand transparency and threaten withdrawal of funding from groups that spin their web of hate against Israel.  They should also temper their language and stop using false terms such as “illegal settlements,” and “occupied Palestinian land,” when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian issue or speaking about disputed territories.

If Schultz’s officially embarrassing faux pas make European politicians and diplomats take stock and reconsider their tactics, his foolish and insulting remarks may have a benefit to both sides.

If it does not, then Europe has no future role in negotiations or peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Barry Shaw is the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to the Strategic Dialogue Center at the Netanya Academic College in Israel.  He is also the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’  (Available on Amazon in ebook Kindle format)

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