BERLIN – A snapshot of Europe- Israel relations in 2010 shows a mixture of
highs, lows and explicit hostility toward the Jewish state.
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The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) admitted Israel into its exclusive club of leading world
economies. While three European countries – Switzerland, Norway and Ireland – in
which anti-Israel sentiments can run high had been reluctant to green-light
Israel’s entry into the club, they decided in September to join the unanimous
vote of its 31 members to admit Israel.
Membership will expand
opportunities for foreign investors in Israel and help improve the country’s
The European Union’s decision to implement a robust round
of sanctions in October against Iran’s illicit nuclear program represent
something of a sea change in Europe’s posture toward Iran. Israel had advocated
hard-hitting sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s energy
There are growing indications that Europe has awakened from its
slumber and realizes that Iran is a threat not only to Israel, but to European
security. The UK and France took the lead in convincing the EU that Iran needed
to be disciplined. The crowning achievement of the EU sanctions is the
prohibition of the sale of gas and oil technology to Teheran.
Gregor, a political analyst and researcher with Réalité EU, an organization that
tracks European- Iranian trade, e-mailed The Jerusalem Post
on Tuesday, saying
that “France and Great Britain are the driving forces behind the effort to
forcefully implement the Iran sanctions.”
Gregor, who has written
extensively about Austrian-Iranian relations, said the leadership of France and
Britain within the EU boded well for Iran-sanctions enforcement because, for
example, countries such as Austria and Italy would be “considerably
Gaps in the EU sanctions still need to be plugged, say observers.
A telling example is Italy’s rising consumption of Iranian crude oil. Italy’s
import of Iranian oil mushroomed by 90.8 percent during the first nine months of
2010. And the Swiss state-owned energy giant EGL has refused to terminate its
estimated 18 billion-22b. euro gas deal with the National Iranian Gas Export
Banning the purchase of Iranian gas and crude oil would add a
real bite to the EU sanctions.
According to a Post
review of the new
German-Iranian trade numbers, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration
has refused to clamp down on its flourishing business relationship with
German exports to Iran climbed to 3,164,462b. euros between
January and October 2010, compared to 3,012,653b. euros during the same period
In what might mean a blow against European NGOs which fund
efforts to delegitimize Israel, the new Dutch foreign minister, Uri Rosenthal,
said he plans to delve into his government’s funding of the Interchurch
Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), a Dutch aid organization that
finances the Electronic Intifada. The pro-Palestinian website compares Israel
with the former apartheid regime in South Africa and uses Nazi references to
describe Israel’s policies.
Rosenthal told the Post
in November, “I will
look into the matter personally.
If it appears that the government-
subsidized NGO ICCO does fund Electronic Intifada, it will have a serious
problem with me.”
The Dutch parliament has discussed tax-payer funding of
Electronic Intifada, and a decision is expected in January.
Some of the
lows on the report card of Europe-Israel relations in 2010 involved Europe’s
response to Israel’s security measures and to the peace process.
assassination of Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, which was
attributed to Israeli intelligence agencies, prompted the UK and Ireland to
expel Israeli diplomats because of the alleged use of doctored British and Irish
passports in January’s targeted killing of Mabhouh.
Barack Obama dropped his demand that Israel suspend construction of apartment
complexes in east Jerusalem and settlements in the disputed territories as a
condition for new Israeli- Palestinian peace talks, the EU continues to make the
freezing of Israeli construction the cornerstone of its foreign
The outgoing year was marked by the rise of expressions of modern
anti-Semitism and biased resolutions blasting Israel for its blockade of
In a radio interview in September, former Belgian foreign minister
and current European Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht talked, in connection
with Israel, about “the bestorganized lobby that exists there” [in the United
States] and said, “There is, indeed, a religion, I can hardly describe it
differently, among most Jews that they are right. So it is not easy to have a
rational discussion with a moderate Jew about what is happening in the Middle
According to European anti-Semitism experts, the term “lobby” is a
code word used by those in Europe who engage in anti-Semitic conspiratorial
European countries, and the EU’s top diplomat Catherine Ashton,
engaged in condemnations of Israel’s seizure of the Turkish-sponsored Mavi
Marmara, many of whose passengers had terrorist connections and murderous
intentions toward the Israeli naval commandos who boarded the ship in May.
German taxpayers funded MPs from the German Left Party, a hardcore anti- Zionist
party, to travel on the Mavi Marmara.
In an interview with the Post in
October, an Israeli diplomat who closely follows German-Israeli relations
expressed enormous disappoint with the German parliament’s decision to
unanimously condemn Israel for intercepting the Mavi Marmara.
diplomat noted that Merkel is considered to be the most pro-Israel chancellor
ever, and yet she seemed to remain indifferent to the desire of the members of
her Christian Democratic Union to vote for the anti-Israeli
The diplomat noted that such a crass expression of bias
toward Israel did not occur during the watch of the previous Social Democratic-
Green Party coalition government.
The Vienna city council was the second
legislative body in Europe to unanimously blast Israel’s reaction to the Gaza
Both legislatures had failed to do their homework and
exhaustively review the violent anti-Israeli motivations and actions of many of
the Mavi Marmara’s passengers.
Europe’s tango with Israel will continue
to be filled with rocky dance steps as the New Year enters.