Europe’s Deluded Attitude toward Israel

In an extensive study of the antagonistic policy and rhetoric of the European Union and its members toward Israel, Fiamma Nirenstein sees not only a “fundamental . . . misunderstanding and ignorance of Israeli national needs” but also a tendency to blame Israel’s leaders for creating the rift in the first place. In this connection, she cites a report produced by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, a highly regarded German research institute, that bizarrely, on the basis of a survey of some 1,000 Israelis, finds the political success of Benjamin Netanyahu to be mostly responsible for supposedly turning Israel against the European Union:

The [report] considers the prime minister and his government to be the “driving forces” of the process of detachment from Europe, alluding heavily to the prime minister’s “political scandals and corruption allegations confronting him” as a rationale for his siding with the extreme right, [which according to the study] is gaining power as the Israeli religious forces grow bigger and stronger. . . . The reason for this conclusion remains quite mysterious: why should the supposed larger influence of the right wing necessarily push Israel to antipathy toward Europe? . . .

While the decline of the popularity of the EU [among Israelis] is seen [by the report] as “a symptom of a general abandonment of international organizations,” it’s quite evident that the truth is the opposite. The “abandonment” is a reaction to these organizations’ negative attitude toward Israel, including their obsessive concern over the “occupied territories.” [For instance], Israel announced its intention to leave UNESCO on December 22, 2017, in response to “systematic attacks” on the Jewish state that ignored or diminished the Jewish connections to Jerusalem—attacks notably backed by European nations. . . . Or consider Europe’s denial of Israel’s right of self-defense during the wars in Gaza; . . . or the letter by nineteen distinguished officials like EU Special Representative Miguel Moratinos or EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Javier Solana of May 11, 2015, about how to increase pressure on Israel to surrender “occupied territories” to the Palestinian Authority. . . .

In other words, Nirenstein writes, Europe fixates on condemning Israel and is then surprised that these condemnations aren’t repaid with love. She continues:

While attacking Israel, Europe takes a strange stance insisting that it is just providing a public palliative for some Israeli illness. The ambassadors of European countries repeat privately that their condemnations of Israel do not inflict serious damage on Israel’s economy, nor do they interfere with good economic relations. They ask that Israel avoid dramatizing their own actions. But the continent’s anti-Israel acts do inflict damage and create tension between Israel and the continent. . . . As a matter of fact, Europe promotes the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS) and, [by funneling money to Palestinian organizations], terrorism.

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Israel’s Nation-State Law and the Hysteria of the Western Media

Aug. 17 2018

Nearly a month after it was passed by the Knesset, the new Basic Law defining Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is still causing outrage in the American and European press. The attacks, however, are almost uniformly incommensurate with this largely symbolic law, whose text, in the English translation found on the Knesset website, is barely over 400 words in length. Matthew Continetti comments:

Major journalistic institutions have become so wedded to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Benjamin Netanyahu narrative, in which Israel is part of a global trend toward nationalist authoritarian populism, that they have abdicated any responsibility for presenting the news in a dispassionate and balanced manner. The shameful result of this inflammatory coverage is the normalization of anti-Israel rhetoric and policies and widening divisions between Israel and the diaspora.

For example, a July 18, 2018, article in the Los Angeles Times described the nation-state law as “granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities.” But that is false: the bill contained no such language. (An earlier version might have been interpreted in this way, but the provision was removed.) Yet, as I write, the Los Angeles Times has not corrected the piece that contained the error. . . .

Such through-the-looking-glass analysis riddled [the five] news articles and four op-eds the New York Times has published on the matter at the time of this writing. In these pieces, “democracy” is defined as results favored by the New York Times editorial board, and Israel’s national self-understanding as in irrevocable conflict with its democratic form of government. . . .

The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. . . .  The New York Times quoted Avi Shilon, a historian at Ben-Gurion University, who said [that] “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.” Judging by the fallacious, paranoid, fevered, and at times bigoted reaction to the nation-state bill, however, Bibi may have good reason to believe that Israel is still in the battle of 1948, and still defending itself against assaults on the very idea of a Jewish state.

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