Recently, the EU formally recommended that its 27 member states “prevent”
Israeli activity in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem by
means of discriminatory labeling of Israeli products from these areas – in
effect, an economic boycott of Jewish communities in those regions. This
recommendation is clearly immoral, on at least six grounds, and recently I had the privilege of setting these out before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Dutch Parliament. Part of the following comments are based on a speech Caroline Glick gave at an Intelligence Squared debate in January.
First, it attempts to predetermine borders prior to
negotiations. Repeated such attempts demonstrate that this approach actually
discourages the Palestinians from negotiating final-status issues with Israel.
The presence of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria has nothing to do with
prospects for peace. We have peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and six
agreements with the PLO (of which they were in material breach from day
None was contingent on the absence of Jews from any
Second, it violates the civil rights of Jews living in Judea and
Samaria. In fact, this issue is not about peace at all, but about the abrogation
of Jewish civil rights. The EU is in effect stating that Jews should not be
allowed to live in these areas, just because they are Jews.
Jews be allowed to live in London, Amsterdam, New York or Sydney, but not in
Judea or Jerusalem? How could the Netherlands government and the Dutch people
agree to such discrimination? By labeling Jewish products from these areas, they
are in effect recommending that a Palestinian state must be ethnically cleansed
of Jews before its people will agree to independence.
Third, it is
immoral and illegal.
Israel’s national rights to these areas are very
strong, at least as valid as any other claimant under international law. And
this is not the first time a country has tried to disenfranchise the Jewish
people from their land.
The British in 1939 with the infamous White Paper
abrogated their responsibility under the Mandate of the League of Nations to
encourage “close settlement by Jews on the land.”
They hoped to appease
the Arabs who supported the Nazis and were running a terrorist campaign, even
then, not only against the Jews, but also against the Allied Powers. In an
attempt to appease them, the British in effect declared that the Jews had no
rights to this area. And what did the British get for this appeasement? Egyptian
King Farouk’s support for the Nazis, a revolt in Iraq, support for the Nazis in
Iran and a Nazi party in Syria.
Appeasement didn’t work then, and it
doesn’t work now.
Fourth, it supports terrorism. This week a disturbing
report was released by the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV), an
independent body based in the Netherlands which advises government and
parliament on foreign policy.
Among other misguided recommendations, it
stated that “Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is therefore much desired.
Contacts with Hamas should not be avoided.”
In other words, AIV
recommends finding common ground with a terrorist organization whose mandate is
genocide, the destruction of the Jewish people. It seems they have found common
ground with these murderers, for whom Jews living in Judea and Samaria, but not
violent terrorists, are the roadblock to peace.
No, it is the Jews and
their “products” who are destroying all prospects for peace. Not those
intentionally firing thousands of rockets at the homes of civilians, not those
throwing firebombs, not those pelting cars with rocks causing death and injury,
but the Jews. They are the problem.
Fifth, it is based on immoral
equivalence and a double standard. Labeling products – based not only on
geographic origin but on ethnic origin – is pure discrimination. The European
Forum’s “working definition” of anti- Semitism explicitly includes applying a
double standard to the State of Israel.
So, what are other examples of
labeling of products in this manner? What about Turkey, which wishes to join the
EU? What of its outright occupation of northern Cyprus? Where are the labeling
laws for Turkish goods coming from Northern Cyprus? And what about China, the
world’s factory and second largest trading partner of the EU? But they also rule
over Tibet. Where are the labeling laws for Chinese products coming from Tibet?
Human rights groups accuse the Chinese authorities of the systematic destruction
of Tibetan Buddhist culture and the persecution of monks loyal to the Dalai
Lama. So where is the EU demand for labeling Chinese products from Tibet?
Clearly, the intent to label only Israeli products in this way is a double
standard, and therefore, is anti-Semitism by the EU’s own
Sixth, it strengthens efforts to isolate and delegitimize
Israel. Such actions embolden the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement
(BDS), and encourage it to continue and thrive, leading to comprehensive
boycotts against Israel. The Netherlands’ decision to approve the labeling of
Jewish products will be a milestone for the BDS movement.
Netherlands will reconsider, for its history and for ours.
ten Broeke, a member of the Dutch Parliament from VVD, a party in the ruling
coalition, attended my speech and asked many insightful questions. A few days
later, we learned that due to questions he posed to the other coalition members
during their discussions, the Dutch government has decided to remove the
labeling laws from its agenda, at least for now.The writer works for
Regavim, an independent, professional research institute and policy planning
think tank, and can be contacted at email@example.com. Regavim’s mission is to
ensure the responsible, legal and environmentally friendly use of Israel’s
national lands and the return of the rule of law to all areas and aspects of the
land and its preservation.