Viewpoint: Where labels lead

The EU’s labeling exercise is only a first step, the same way as the yellow star of the 1930s was only a first step.

A Holocaust survivor wears a yellow star during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem (photo credit: REUTERS)
A Holocaust survivor wears a yellow star during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem
(photo credit: REUTERS)
THERE WAS a pathetic futility in the attempts by both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin to claim that, after the mid-November terrorist carnage in Paris, Israel and Europe were in the same boat.
They were right, of course.
But this will not deter the European establishment from considering us Israelis Jonahs and casting us from the boat.
Make no mistake: a policy calculated to drive us back to the armistice lines of June 4, 1967 is the same as walking Israel down the plank. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom’s incredible remarks linking the Paris outrage to the Arab-Israel conflict should have scotched any illusions that the European establishment after Paris’s 11/13 has changed for the better.
The mid-November news that the EU was going ahead with labeling products produced in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights came as EU member states continued their gold rush to Iran, where their trade delegations were practically tripping over each other in their eagerness to cut deals. At around the same time, Martin Schulz, the European parliament chief, praised Iran “as an element of stability in a region full of instability.”
Iran’s empowerment of Hezbollah in building a missile arsenal of over 150,000 warheads pointed at Israel and its willingness to do the same for Hamas strains the definition of stability. All this sends out a clear message: Iran yes, Israel no.
The labeling by the EU of merchandise produced in territories liberated in the Six Day war and located beyond the 1949 armistice lines is only a first step, the same way as the yellow star of the 1930s was only a first step. The next move will be BDS bullies forcibly removing the labeled items from shelves and making life unpleasant for store owners and would-be purchasers.
The labeling, ostensibly designed to create an informed European consumer, will be followed by banning the merchandise as a measure to create a safe European consumer.
One appropriate response would be to channel Robert Weltch’s famous 1933 editorial in the German Zionist Federation journal Judische Rundschau, “Wear It with Pride,” written on the introduction of the yellow star for Jews in Nazi Germany. In this spirit, producers in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights would agree on a distinctive logo, adopt an in your face attitude and make no effort to conceal the origin of the goods.
It is also worth exploring legal measures against the EU at the World Trade Organization, although this route – even if successful – would entail an extremely lengthy process. Jews and pro-Israel elements in Europe should be encouraged to take affirmative action by purchasing the labeled products.
It would also be foolish to dismiss a potentially sizable European market comprised of citizens who wish to downsize or even quit the EU, and who could be persuaded to purchase the products as an act of defiance. I am aware that this constituency includes unsavory and even anti-Semitic elements, as Israel’s former ambassador to France and Italy Avi Pazner warned. However, the choice between the Social-Democratic minority government in Sweden, whose first move on taking office was to recognize “Palestine,” and the conservative Eurosceptic government of Hungary’s Viktor Orban, which has rejected labeling as “irrational,” is an easy one.
Moreover, we may soon have no choice. Europe’s refugee crisis, compounded by the Islamic reign of terror, has provided a tailwind for a backlash against the Euro elites for purveying the wooly, multicultural ideas that have stripped the continent of its Christian and nationalist antibodies to the current Islamist threat. The Euro elite when confronted by popular rejection, as in the 2005 referendums in Holland and France, generally responds by an end run around the “ignorant masses.”
This hubris is alive and well even after the Paris atrocities. In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, David O’Sullivan, the EU ambassador to the US, produced this incredible line: “We must push back on those in our societies who are tempted to exploit these situations to take us back to those dark days of extreme nationalism and hatred.”
The real enemy for O’Sullivan and his ilk is not the jihadis, but nationalism. Given such blindness, Israel should try to be part of a European future where O’Sullivan, Wallstrom and Schulz are irrelevant and long forgotten.
Contributor Amiel Ungar is also a columnist for the Hebrew weekly Besheva