July 7, 2011
Number 07/11 #03
Today’s Update looks at the worrying phenomenon of European efforts and involvement in a range of anti-Israel activities and movements, including the second Gaza flotilla. First up, University of Paris Professor Guy Milliere writes on the efforts of Britain and European countries and citizenry to support boycotts of Israel, fund NGOs that work to delegitimise Israel, and are encouraging the Palestinian push to have the United Nations Security Council recognise a State of Palestine on 1967 borders. Milliere argues that Israel’s positive story clashes with the resentment filled British/European psyche that has become warped by moral relativism. To read this article, CLICK HERE.
Next, foreign policy analyst Soeren Kern meticulously surveys the efforts by British and other European NGOs, trade unions and political parties to bolster the second Gaza flotilla. Kern notes that many groups involved are receiving funding from governments, including those that are on the verge of bankruptcy and facing dire social problems but are still able to unduly prioritise the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To read this article, CLICK HERE.
Finally, Commentary magazine’s online Senior Editor Jonathan Tobin blogs on the Holocaust-denying, antisemitic and anti-Israel views of Ahmed Ezz El-Arab who heads Egypt’s leading secularist Wafd party. Interviewed by the Washington Times whilst attending the Conference on Democracy and Human Rights in Budapest, El-Arab said the Holocaust is a lie, gas chambers are “fanciful stories” and the Diary of Anne Frank is “a fake.” Tobin says most Egypt-watchers in the West have been concentrating on the Muslim Brotherhood but it turns out their non-religious and presumably liberal rivals are not exactly a bargain either. He warns that whilst many Egyptian democrats are steeped in a culture of hate, “there is little chance genuine democracy or peace” will take root in Egypt. To read this article, CLICK HERE.
Readers may also be interested in:
- Also alluding to the spectacle of countries obsessing about Israel but ignoring atrocities in Syria is clinical psychologist John Lalor who looks at his homeland of Ireland.
- A disturbing expose from the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs of what the Palestinians have planned against Israel after the UN motion in September.
- An explanation of why the so-called Palestinian right of return has no basis in law.
- Knesset member Einat Wilf explains why Israel is the solution for the Middle East, not the problem.
- One way the boycott campaign against Israel hurts Palestinians.
- Gerald Steinberg’s take on the Palestinians’ unilateral moves to seek a UN declaration of an independent Palestinian state.
- A look at who the Syrian opposition really are, which counters concerns they may be no better than the current regime.
- Khaled Abu Toameh on the problems besetting the Palestinian unity talks, including that they can’t agree on a Prime Minister, and that Fatah continues to arrest Hamas members in the West Bank.
- Mario Loyola explains why any American on the Gaza flotilla is committing a felony.
By Guy Milliere
www.hudson-ny.org July 6, 2011
Israelis to whom I spoke during a recent visit there all said the same thing: the Muslim world is a proven enemy, but they are now facing a second enemy that shows more and more its true face: the European Union and its main members.
The European Union, France, the UK, and some other European countries — Spain for example — are not only the scene of rising anti-Semitism; they also behave as if one of their primary objectives now is the demonization and destruction of Israel.
European boats will apparently join the pro-Hamas flotilla, should it sail. Boycotts against Israeli products — most recently and conspicuously in Scotland — Israeli scientists, Israeli books and Israeli movies are being organized over the continent.
A report released in 2010 by the British Coalition against Hate Education shows that the EU and countries such as France and the United Kingdom still fund Palestinian textbooks promoting hate and violence against Israeli Jews.
Recently, the EU announced the transfer of 45 million euros to the Palestinian Authority to “enable payment of salaries,” despite the fact that shortly before this payment was authorized, the PA had enacted a law granting a “monthly salary” to “all Palestinians imprisoned in Israel “for terror crimes.”
The EU, France and the United Kingdom are also funding non-governmental associations that work inside Israel to undermine and delegitimize the country; a parliamentary panel of inquiry into NGO funding by foreign governments was formed in Jerusalem a few month ago. Later, the Knesset passed a law requiring NGO funding transparency. European Union High Representative, Catherine Ashton, said she “regretted” the decision.
A German writer stated two decades ago that “Europeans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz”: it is clear that Europeans intend to get rid of all traces of guilt for the crime Europeans committed against Jews seven decades ago. Demonizing Israel and contributing to its destruction helps them move in that direction.
Europe also has created economic and financial ties with the Muslim world and is now prisoner of these ties. Many Europeans want to demonstrate their willingness to atone for the colonial past of Europe and are ready to use Israel as a scapegoat.
Europe is steeped in moral relativism and in contempt for what made the greatness of Western civilization. As it lies down and submits, it can only hate a country that stands up and is ready to fight to stay free.
It is also now clear to Israeli authorities that a new tactic was born: the invasion of the country by “peaceful” people who will cross the borders en masse, and push Israeli soldiers to shoot at them. This tactic was already been used by “humanitarian flotillas “last year, and a new flotilla will possibly still sail towards Gaza later this month. Those aboard are hoping to get mugged or shot by Israelis. If they are, it will be a success for them: they will have shown how the Israelis are “barbaric “and “cruel.” If they are not mugged or shot, it will also be a success for them: Israel will look defeated.
When Israel recently celebrated its 63rd anniversary, it was a day when the Israelis and friends of Israel had reasons to feel proud: despite wars, hatred, terrorism, the Israelis have built a free, strong and democratic society. They have also built a modern economy, one of the first worldwide in the high technology sector.
It was also a day when the Israelis had reason to feel concerned: most of them, according to polling, think that the present occupant of the White House is the most anti-Israeli President of the United States since the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948. The recent speeches of Barack Obama about the “1967 borders “did not persuade them to change their mind.
Most of them also see the entire Middle East sliding towards the predominance of radical Islam.
The potential closeness of the Palestinian Authority with Hamas indicates a reorientation of Palestinians toward a much harder line. The “Nakba Day” (Catastrophe Day), that Palestinian movements have organized since 1998 and that is supposed to “commemorate” the “catastrophe” — the Arabs’ failure to annihilate Israel in 1948 –was particularly rough this year, and accompanied by attempts to invade Israeli territory from Lebanon and Syria. On “Naksa Day” (Day of the Setback), that was supposed to “commemorate” the defeat of Arab countries by Israel in 1967, hundreds of people tried again to invade Israel, only this time just from Syria.
Israeli authorities said they know that even if flotillas do not create any major incident, the Palestinian Authority might decide unilaterally to create a Palestinian State, if the General Assembly of the United Nations votes to support its creation, and if the Palestinian Authority is not overly concerned about forfeiting US funding.
Israeli authorities also said they are preparing for all eventualities; they know anything can happen, and that journalists from the rest of the world are hungry for images that would allow them to drag Israel into the mud.
Even if the United States vetoes the resolution at the Security Council, many countries have already said they would give full recognition to the new State. Several European countries seem ready to go in this direction and to step up their pressure on the Israeli government.
Political philosophers used to say that two sets of values are in competition in human societies: resentment and achievement. Israel is fundamentally a society of achievers. Resentment is ubiquitous in the Muslim world today — and oozing through Europe as well.
By Soeren Kern
Pajamas Media, July 2, 2011
The so-called Freedom Flotilla 2, a convoy of about ten ships hoping to break an Israeli naval blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, has been off to an inauspicious start. With two vessels disabled due to alleged “sabotage” and other boats held up in a port in Athens by the Greek government, the flotilla will not set sail for at least another few days and may be called off altogether.
Whatever its fate, the flotilla has considerable public support in Europe, where opposition to Israel often crosses the line into anti-Semitism . Although a handful of Americans, Canadians, and Middle Easterners (as well as a few Aussies and Kiwis) are among the 500 pro-Palestinian activists hoping to sail with the flotilla, the majority of its organizers, supporters and actual participants are from Europe, which has become “ground zero” in the global campaign of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
The Gaza flotilla is, in fact, an integral part of a growing European movement to delegitimize the state of Israel . It is rooted in the program of political warfare to achieve the complete international isolation of Israel  that was launched at the UN conference against racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001.
European charities linked to left-wing and pro-Palestinian causes have raised an estimated 10 million ($14.5 million) to fund the flotilla. Many European politicians and members of the European Parliament as well as media outlets have expressed strong support for it in public. The flotilla has been organized from Britain and the main operational hub is in Greece.
Eight out of the ten vessels comprising the flotilla are European. They include the Dignity and the Louise Michel from France, the Saoirse (Gaelic for freedom) from Ireland, the Stefano Chiarini from Italy, the Guernica from Spain, the Juliano from Sweden, and two Greek cargo ships carrying 3,000 tons of supplies. The two other ships are the Tahrir from Canada and The Audacity of Hope from the United States.
The European Freedom Flotilla  website has pooled information on flotilla campaigns in the various European countries. Some of these include: Belgium to Gaza , Free Gaza Denmark , Ship to Gaza Greece , Freedom Flotilla Italia , Ship to Gaza Netherlands , Ship to Gaza Norway , Free Gaza Scotland , Ship to Gaza Sweden , and so on.
Other pan-European groups directly or indirectly involved in the flotilla include the Brussels-based European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine , the London-based Palestinian Return Center , and the Oslo-based European Network to Support Rights of Palestinian Prisoners .
Britain has hosted much of the organizing apparatus of the flotilla, which is being coordinated out of London by Mohammad Sawalha , a senior Muslim Brotherhood operative closely linked to Hamas and who was granted asylum by Britain in 1990.
Sawalha – together with Zaher Birawi, another Hamas activist living in Britain – is a director of Britain2Gaza , a coalition of left-wing and Islamist organizations participating in the flotilla that includes groups like: the British Muslim Initiative, the Friends of Al-Aqsa , the Palestinian Forum in Britain , the Palestine Solidarity Campaign , and the Stop the War Coalition . Sawalha is also the vice chairman of the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza , a British-based group that coordinates the Miles of Smiles land convoys to Gaza.
Britain is also home to the Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign , the Palestine Solidarity Campaign  (which is working to “build a mass anti-Apartheid movement for Palestine”), Interpal , Freedom for Palestine , A Just Peace for Palestine , Stop Arming Israel , Oxford-Ramallah Friendship Association , Reading-Palestine Solidarity Campaign , Viva Palestina , Medical Aid for Palestinians , the Scottish-Palestine Solidarity Campaign , and many more.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague says the flotilla is unwise and has advised Britons not to participate in it. But he himself has contributed to the BDS campaign against Israel by his failure to honor a long-standing promise to amend British universal jurisdiction laws  in a way that would make it safe for Israeli leaders to visit Britain without the risk of detention on frivolous allegations of war crimes.
In France, a fundraising campaign called “A French Ship to Gaza ” collected more than 600,000 ($865,000) for the Gaza flotilla. The campaign was launched in October 2010 under the combined leadership of French NGOs for Palestine  and a Red-Green Alliance of leftists and Islamists called the “National Collective for a Just and Lasting Peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Nationwide, more than 70 French organizations  including political parties and trade unions have been involved in mobilizing activists and raising funds for the flotilla. Some 40 French nationals, including one French MEP, are on board the two French vessels that are participating in the convoy. More than 300 French politicians have signed a petition in support of the campaign.
Germany is sending more than 20 activists to participate in the flotilla, which is being coordinated by the German Initiative to Break the Gaza Blockade , a coalition of more than a dozen pro-Palestinian organizations, including: the Palestinian Community in Germany , the Palestinian-German Federation for the Right of Return, the German-Palestinian Union, the German Youth for Palestine , the Committee for a Democratic Palestine, and the Palestinian Society for Human Rights , which in May 2011 held the 9th Annual Conference of Palestinians in Europe  titled “The Return Generation Knows its Way.”
In Ireland, the flotilla is being coordinated by Irish Ship to Gaza  under the direction of Caoimhe Butterly, a pro-Palestinian activist who in April 2002 spent 16 days as a “human shield” in Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah. Other pro-Palestinian activist groups in Ireland include: the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign , the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Alliance , and the Derry Friends of Palestine . About 25 Irish nationals were planning on sailing with the Saoirse, including Irish MEP Paul Murphy of the Socialist Party and United Left Alliance. But the vessel dropped out of the flotilla after being “sabotaged” while docking in Turkey.
In Norway, which hosts the European Network to Support the Rights of Palestinian Prisoners , some $250,000 was raised to send 20 activists to Gaza. In neighboring Sweden, the campaign Ship to Gaza Sweden  has been selling “nautical miles to Gaza” for $145 each.
In Spain, the flotilla is being organized by “Rumbo a Gaza ” (Course to Gaza). Despite massive unemployment in Spain, the group managed to raise enough funds to send 45 Spanish activists to Gaza on a boat called the Guernica, which also happens to be the name of a small town in the Basque country that was bombed by Adolf Hitler during the Spanish Civil War.
In Switzerland, more than 200 NGOs are supporting the flotilla . It is being coordinated by a Geneva-based group called Droit pour Tous  (Right for All), which in March 2011 sponsored “The First International Conference on the Rights of Palestinian Prisoners and Detainees.” Three members of the Swiss National Council, the lower house of the Swiss parliament, want to sail with the flotilla.
If Gaza has become an obsession for many ordinary Europeans, so too for Europe’s political class, which rarely misses an opportunity to rebuke Israel for a blockade the latter says is necessary to prevent weapons for reaching Iran-backed Hamas militants.
Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger  visited the Gaza Strip in April 2011 and demanded that Israel lift its blockade. British Prime Minister David Cameron  said Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into a “prison camp” and at least 14 British parliamentarians  have publicly backed the flotilla. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as several members of her government, has insisted that Israel end the blockade and the German Bundestag  in July 2010 passed a resolution condemning Israeli policies in Gaza.
In Ireland, which recently needed a $113 billion bailout  to save it from financial collapse, Prime Minister Enda Kenny  is closely following the events in Gaza. “I have every sympathy with the people of Gaza,” Kenny told the lower house of parliament. Even tiny Luxembourg has something to say about Gaza: In February 2011 Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn  visited the territory and demanded that Israel lift the blockade.
In Spain, the kaffiyeh-wearing  Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, whose often toxic anti-Israel rhetoric has contributed to a notable rise in anti-Semitism in Spain , has called for a “strong, joint EU position” on Gaza and Israel’s blockade. Hamas militants recently gave European Union Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton an opportunity to do just that when they welcomed her to the Gaza Strip by firing a rocket into southern Israel , killing a man working in the Netiv Ha’assera kibbutz. Rather than condemn Hamas for the killing, the European Union, which takes pride in being the largest contributor of aid to the Palestinians, berated Israel instead.
A notable exception has been Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, whose government has prohibited eight boats participating in the flotilla from leaving Greek waters. Previously, Papandreou had described an Israeli commando raid on a similar flotilla in May 2010 as “condemnable and unacceptable .”
The irony of all the Gaza activism in Europe is this: The European single currency is on the verge of collapse. Many European countries are on the brink of bankruptcy. The European social welfare state is crumbling. Millions of Europeans are out of work and many are losing their homes. Europeans are losing the war they started with Libya. Muslim immigration to Europe is out of control. Islamic Sharia law is becoming increasingly common (here , here , here , and here ) in many parts of the continent. Considering all the problems besetting Europe today, the issue many Europeans care about most is the Gaza Strip.
 opposition to Israel often crosses the line into anti-Semitism: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/anti-semitism-sweeps-europe-in-wake-of-gaza-operation/
 European movement to delegitimize the state of Israel: http://www.hudson-ny.org/2172/europeans-boycotts-against-israel
 complete international isolation of Israel: http://academic.udayton.edu/race/06hrights/WCAR2001/NGOFORUM/Palestinans.htm
 European Freedom Flotilla: http://www.freedomflotilla.eu/
 Belgium to Gaza: http://www.belgiumtogaza.com/
 Free Gaza Denmark: http://www.freegaza.dk/
 Ship to Gaza Greece: http://www.shiptogaza.gr/
 Freedom Flotilla Italia: http://www.freedomflotilla.it/
 Ship to Gaza Netherlands: http://www.nederland-gaza.nl/
 Ship to Gaza Norway: http://www.shiptogaza.no/
 Free Gaza Scotland: http://freegaza-scotland.org/
 Ship to Gaza Sweden: http://www.shiptogaza.se/
 European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine: http://www.eccpalestine.org/
 Palestinian Return Center: http://www.prc.org.uk/newsite/en
 European Network to Support Rights of Palestinian Prisoners: http://ufree-p.net/eng/
 Britain2Gaza: http://www.britain2gaza.com/
 Friends of Al-Aqsa: http://www.foa.org.uk/
 Palestinian Forum in Britain: http://www.palestinianforum.co.uk/en
 Palestine Solidarity Campaign: http://www.palestinecampaign.org/
 Stop the War Coalition: http://stopwar.org.uk/
 the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza: http://www.facebook.com/ECESG?sk=wall
 Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign: http://www.bigcampaign.org/
 Palestine Solidarity Campaign: http://palestinecampaign.org/
 Interpal: http://www.interpal.org.uk/
 Freedom for Palestine: http://www.waronwant.org/freedomoneworld/
 A Just Peace for Palestine: http://www.justpeaceforpalestine.org/
 Stop Arming Israel: http://www.stoparmingisrael.org/
 Oxford-Ramallah Friendship Association: http://www.oxford-ramallah.org/
 Reading-Palestine Solidarity Campaign: http://readingpsc.org.uk/
 Viva Palestina: http://www.vivapalestina.org/home.htm
 Medical Aid for Palestinians: http://www.map-uk.org/
 Scottish-Palestine Solidarity Campaign: http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/
 amend British universal jurisdiction laws: http://www.hudson-ny.org/1671/uk-universal-jurisdiction-law
 A French Ship to Gaza: http://www.unbateaupourgaza.fr/
 French NGOs for Palestine: http://www.plateforme-palestine.org/
 more than 70 French organizations: http://flottille.blog.lemonde.fr/2011/06/25/flottille-pour-gaza-ii-embarquement-imminent/
 German Initiative to Break the Gaza Blockade: http://germany-gaza.de/
 Palestinian Community in Germany: http://www.falastin.de/home.html
 German Youth for Palestine: http://www.djp-info.de/
 Palestinian Society for Human Rights: http://www.pgd-online.de/
 9th Annual Conference of Palestinians in Europe: http://www.palconference.eu/
 Irish Ship to Gaza: http://irishshiptogaza.org/
 Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign: http://www.ipsc.ie/
 Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Alliance: http://www.sadaka.ie/
 Derry Friends of Palestine: http://www.derryfriendsofpalestine.org/
 Rumbo a Gaza: http://www.rumboagaza.org/
 more than 200 NGOs are supporting the flotilla: http://www.thelocal.ch/national/20110525_229.html
 Droit pour Tous: http://www.droitpourtous.ch/index.php?language=en&page=15&homepage
 Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger: http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/news/middle-east/2217-austrian-foreign-minister-enters-gaza-through-rafah-border-crossing
 British Prime Minister David Cameron: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jul/27/david-cameron-gaza-prison-camp
 14 British parliamentarians: http://www.britain2gaza.com/2011/06/parliamentarians-add-their-support-to-the-flotilla/
 $113 billion bailout: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-28/ireland-wins-eu85-billion-aid-germany-drops-threat-on-bonds.html
 Prime Minister Enda Kenny: http://www.kildarestreet.com/debate/?id=2011-06-29.102.0
 Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn: http://www.mae.lu/fr/Site-MAE/Actualites/Jean-Asselborn-en-tournee-au-Proche-Orient-du-22-au-26-fevrier-2011-Quatrieme-etape-Visite-de-travail-dans-la-Bande-de-Gaza-25-fevrier-2011
 kaffiyeh-wearing: http://www.minutodigital.com/noticias2/3006.htm
 notable rise in anti-Semitism in Spain: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/spains-jewish-problem/
 firing a rocket into southern Israel: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8573715.stm
 condemnable and unacceptable: http://www.ana-mpa.gr/anaweb/user/showplain?maindoc=8775605&maindocimg=8679363&service=6
Commentary Magazine online – July 7, 2011
Most of those who are worried about the future path of Egypt in the wake of the fall of Hosni Mubarak have focused on the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist political party that commands the allegiance of a growing number of Egyptians. But as much as the West is right to fear the Brotherhood, it turns out their non-religious and presumably liberal rivals are not exactly a bargain either. The Washington Times reports the vice chairman of Egypt’s top secular political party believes the Holocaust is a lie and the 9/11 attacks were “made in the USA.”
Ahmed Ezz El-Arab, a leader of the Wafd Party, spoke to Ben Birnbaum of the Washington Times last week and told him, “The Holocaust is a lie.” He went to dismiss accounts of “gas chambers” as “fanciful stories” and said the Diary of Anne Frank is “a fake.”
El-Arab made the remarks during an interview in Budapest where he was attending the Conference on Democracy and Human Rights. The Wafd is reputed to be the second largest party in Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood.
Despite these hateful views, the Egyptian said his party was not in favor of war against Israel and denounced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He called Ahmadinejad a “hateful character” but said the Iranian, who shares El-Arab’s belief in Holocaust denial, was correct in that one respect.
What are we to make of the fact such a person is the “democrat” whose party’s success we should presumably support against the Brotherhood?
While democracy is, in principle, something we should desire for all peoples, optimism about the Arab Spring must be tempered by a dose of reality. Even under Mubarak, who maintained the peace treaty with Israel, Jew-hatred was not only tolerated but also encouraged so as to give an outlet for public resentment that might otherwise have been directed against the government. It is therefore little wonder after generations of such views being promulgated in both mosques and popular culture, an Egyptian “democrat” would be both a Holocaust-denier and a 9/11 truther.
Were Egypt’s political system to ever evolve into one where the rule of law and public accountability became engrained in the culture of that country, there is a chance hate might gradually fade away. But with the army still ruling Egypt with an iron fist, such notions are unrealistic. So long as even the democrats in that country are a product of a culture of hate, there is little chance genuine democracy or peace will be the result of any of the changes there.