A missed opportunity for the EU

The European Union and its institutions in Brussels issued a record number of press statements last Monday. But not one was on the brutal murders in Itamar.

By TOMAS SANDELL
March 20, 2011 21:39
3 minute read.
Catherine Ashton

Catherine Ashton (R) 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud)

The European Union and its institutions in Brussels issued a record number of press statements on March 14. Still, there was no mention of the brutal murder of five members of an Israeli family in Itamar.

Should we be surprised? Hardly. The European Parliament is more likely to call an emergency session if a Jewish settler family builds a new home than if a Jewish settler family has been brutally killed, as was the case last week.

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This is not necessarily out of pure ignorance but, even worse, it may even be logical. According to the EU foreign policy establishment, settlements are obstacles to peace.

Now the UN Security Council has taken this matter one step further and declared that “Jewish settlements are in breach of international law,” and as a consequence, one may add, settlers are criminals.

Perhaps it is in this context that we should understand the ice-cold silence from the international community in the aftermath of the Fogel family members’ murder. It was not just any family. In the eyes of the cynical western elite, they were simply settlers, obstacles to peace.

The current deadlock in peace negotiations is troublesome.

But it is hardly the settlements which pose the problem. Never before have settlements prevented a Palestinian delegation from coming to the negotiating table to discuss, agree and disagree. So why now? Perhaps the Palestinians are smarter than their counterparts.

By refusing to negotiate, they know that, at the end of the day, the Israelis will be blamed for the failure and forced to make concessions. And even if there are no results, they are still promised a state. So why bother with negotiations and risk losing support from a radicalized constituency which is witnessing political Islam strengthen its base in the whole Arab world? WHICH BRINGS us back to Itamar. Perhaps Itamar was that defining moment when a terrorist could commit the most brutal of murders and not cause any major reactions outside Israel. If this act of barbarism doesn’t wake up the world, what will? The Middle East and the Arab world are at a critical juncture, when every move and decision is being analyzed.

As the now-dethroned dictators know, there is an invisible line in the sand which can’t be crossed. There are those moments when we reach a tipping point, and things suddenly change. Like with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Suddenly the ‘wise men’ realized they were waking up to a different world. West and East were not morally equal, as much of the West’s intellectual class had claimed until then. President Ronald Reagan was the prophet who dared to call evil evil, and for the Berlin Wall to come down.

Many of us have been waiting for that defining moment in the Middle East, the tipping point when the wise men of this world will suddenly wake up and call evil evil. The murder of five innocent civilians in their sleep could have been such a tipping point, but we missed it. If this bestial murder of an innocent family doesn’t wake up the world and lead to the strongest condemnations in Brussels, Cairo and New York, nothing will.

One day another Reagan will have to finally state the obvious: Jewish settlers are not the obstacles to peace.

Those who break in on a sleeping family and cut their throats are the real obstacles to peace, and such an act deserves the strongest condemnations in all capitals of the civilized world, including Brussels.

The writer is founder-director of the Brussels-based European Coalition for Israel, and a former journalist accredited to the European Union.


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