Praise be the Dutch

The Netherlands’ House of Representatives bucked the European trend and called the EU court’s ruling discriminatory.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the White House in Washington, U.S. (photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the White House in Washington, U.S.
(photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)
The statement nine days ago by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are not illegal received much coverage, was highly praised, and more so criticized.
That statement changed US foreign policy, and declared as fact what the State of Israel has always maintained: that the geography of the so-called West Bank may be in dispute, but there is no denying Israel’s inherent right to build Jewish communities in the Jewish People’s biblical heartland.
Pompeo spoke the truth, with a move that advances both the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace, as well as righting a historical wrong.
It was especially welcome coming as it did just a week after the European Court of Justice – the highest court of the European Union – ruled that products made in those very Judea and Samaria Jewish communities must be labeled as such, and not marketed as “product of Israel.”
Pompeo’s statement was news, but not the EU’s ruling. For too long, we have had to deal with Europe fine-tuning its anti-Israel positions via condemning the Jewish state for every possible wrong that occurs in the Middle East.
Following the EU court ruling, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein sent a letter to European Parliament President David Sassoli saying the ruling was “politically motivated” and “disgraceful.”
For many years Israel has been wondering when some country in Europe would stand up and tell the truth, just as Pompeo did. And if not exactly like Pompeo did, at least weigh in truthfully on the disputed territory.
Lo and behold, the day after Pompeo changed the course of US foreign policy, and to everyone’s great surprise, the Netherlands’ House of Representatives bucked the European trend and called the EU court’s ruling discriminatory.
In a motion that passed 82-68, the Dutch parliament urged its government to reject the EU ruling unless similar standards were applied to all disputed territories worldwide, because singling out Israel here was discriminatory.
Which it clearly is. How else to explain that the European court had never ruled on any of the more than 200 territorial disputes across the world, not about Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus, Russia’s occupation of Crimea, or Armenia’s occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh.
No. The EJC’s ruling applies only to Israel.
The EU said the ruling did not ban Israel products in general, and that it did not support the BDS movement against Israel.
But the pro-Israel organization NGO Monitor dismissed that talk and called the product labeling “a stepping stone for full-fledged BDS against Israel, particularly in Europe.”
“For anti-Israel groups, product labeling is meant as a ‘gateway drug’ toward BDS and other forms of demonization,” said NGO Monitor founder and director Prof. Gerald Steinberg. “We have seen these powerful NGOs at work in the short-lived Airbnb boycott, the targeting of Israel in FIFA, the proposed UN discriminatory blacklist, and elsewhere. Product labeling is the next step in demonization.”
While the Dutch vote is largely symbolic and does not compel the government to act, Israel hopes the resolution will help guide government policy so that at least Holland will refrain from labeling the products.
“I hope that in case the Dutch government fails to persuade the EU to implement only if applicable to all territories in dispute, they will adopt their own recommendation and not implement a discriminatory resolution,” tweeted Israel Ambassador to the Netherlands Naor Gilon.
The day after the Dutch motion, the Dutch parliament again took a principled stand, voting to halt all aid to the Palestinian Authority.
In explaining the decision, the parliamentarians cited where payments being made to the PA were ending up: that the Dutch funds going to the PA were being used to pay convicted terrorists and their families a monthly stipend – and they wanted no part of it.
We agree. We can only hope that other European countries follow the Dutch lead, both in calling out the EU court’s discriminatory ruling, and refraining from helping the “pay-for-slay” policy of the PA.