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Concerns about Europe and Israel
By JACQUES HELLER
02/12/2013
The majority of the Israeli people long for peace, a real peace. We do not want to send our children to the battlefields, to fear for their lives.
 
This is a reaction to Lars Faaborg-Andersen, European Union ambassador-designate to Israel and his op-ed in The Jerusalem Post (November 14, 2013) about EU-Israel relations.

I was impressed by EU Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen’s clear and to the point article published in The Jerusalem Post on the EU-Israel relations He emphasized the very positive historical, economic and political links between the EU and Israel for more than 60 years.

The Jewish people indeed have a long European history with many ups and downs.

I was born, raised and educated in Belgium, a very liberal and open country. I served as an officer in the Belgian Forces in Germany and had senior executive experience in European multinational companies.

Sixteen years ago, my wife and I decided to join our children who had made aliya.

In my student years, I chaired the Association of European Federalist students in my faculty, and I have been since a passionate advocate of the European dream.

But things have changed lately.

As a citizen of Israel and of Europe, I am very much disturbed by the present European political stand towards Israel. I have the feeling that Europe does not really understand the deep concerns, fears of the Israeli people after so many years of battles, wars, existential dangers and terrorism.

The majority of the Israeli people long for peace, a real peace. We do not want to send our children to the battlefields, to fear for their lives.

My grandchildren check the locks of their house every evening, being afraid of a possible terrorist attack.

Pogroms, anti-Semitism, the Shoah, the many wars waged on us, the missile attacks, the bombing of civilians and buses have had a profound influence on our psyche. We have decided to survive, to move forward and develop our society in the most democratic way possible and this, in a very difficult environment.

That is an understatement.

When there is the mention of two states for two people, I am not sure that well-intentioned people understand what it means for Israel. These are not empty words.

Relinquishing parts of our land (according to all international conventions and public law) for a real and true peace would probably be accepted by a majority of Israelis. On one condition: that we can live in total security, recognized as human beings by our neighbors and starting together a new era, trying to live according to most of the Ten Commandments.

Like Sweden with Denmark or Norway. If we cannot believe in those conditions, Israel will not risk its existence in exchange for a piece of paper or so-called international guarantees.

This also explains our major concern about the Iranian nuclear threat. It is not an intellectual game. We have openly been threatened with total destruction.

By the way, was there a European uproar about that declaration? Now regarding the Arab Palestinian partner. Since the 1960s Arafat, Abbas, Hamas, there has been a constant discourse of hate and terror. There is a total reluctance to even envisage our right to live in any part of this land. The PA and Hamas in their internal literature and speeches consider Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem as theirs alone.The schoolchildren are raised with hatred toward Jews and Israelis. Nothing has really changed in their textbooks. Compare that with our textbooks.

One also has to seriously consider the PA conditions to sincerely get to the negotiation table: Return of all the refugees, return of all the Jordan Valley, no Israeli accepted in the future “Palestine,” no security arrangement, etc. Is this serious? By the way, two former Israeli prime ministers – Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak – offered more than 95 percent of the West Bank to the PA. To no avail.

Binyamin Netanyahu has stopped all implementations of new villages in the West Bank for 10 months, waiting for Mahmoud Abbas to come to the negotiation table, without results.

Is it still credible that the other party is eager to reach an agreement? If they want to build an economy, industries, a democratic society not based on dictatorship and corruption, where are the millions of euros and dollars distributed to their leadership by the EU and the US (and paid by the European and US citizens) for so many years? Israel cannot wait for many more decades to move ahead with or without the PA. We have to develop our own society in security in the hope that there will be, by some miracle, a new leadership and partnership, a new spring on the Arab side.

The EU balanced support would be so helpful. If the EU persists in pressuring Israel, the same should be done to the Palestinians and make them understand that they have the destiny of their people in their hands. Obviously, time is not on their side.

The EU should lead a movement for realism, acceptance of the other party and the end of hatred. That will be so much appreciated by all peace-loving people.

The writer, who lives in Modi’in, is the former chairman of the B’nai Brith lodge in Brussels, and also former member of the Royal Institute of International Relations, Belgium.
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