Friday, April 24, 2015

Israel, state-mandated Jew-hate—and the US

Last week, Foreign Ministers of the European Union (EU) decided to do something about the peace impasse in the Middle East. They chose to use state-mandated Jew-hate for peace (Barak Ravid, “European FMs urge policy chief: Label West Bank settlement products”, Haaretz, April 16, 2015).

Specifically, Foreign Ministers from 16 of the EU’s 28 countries have sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. They request that all goods produced in Israeli ‘settlements’ that are sold in grocery chains across the continent be labelled as coming from Israeli ‘settlements’. It would be a partial semi-boycott against Israel: all goods from Judea-Samaria, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights will have to be identified.

These European Foreign Ministers want this labelling because they see ‘settlements’ (and not Arab Jew-hate) as a threat to “a just and final peace agreement" (ibid). They want European consumers to have the ability to boycott ‘settlement’ product, if they wish.  

Their language in this letter is curious. They don’t say they request this labelling in order to push Israel back to the negotiating table. They claim instead to want this labelling because—get ready for this—they’re concerned that, without this labelling, consumers might be "misled by false information" (ibid).

I hope you understand that. I don’t.

In 2013, the EU sought to enact this labelling requirement. It didn’t happen. At that time, pro-Arab advocates saw a labelling requirement as an important step to help slow down  or, ideally, halt the ‘Judifying’ of Judea-Samaria (“European Union Measures Against Israeli Settlements”, doha institute, August 4, 2014). Labelling would do that because it would, in theory, encourage consumers to stop buying Jewish goods from the ‘settlements’. That, in turn, would, in theory, reduce and constrict the economic growth of Jewish businesses in the ‘settlements’ (bid).

Now these EU Ministers want to try again. Apparently, they want to stop the Judifying of the ancestral Jewish areas called, Judea-Samaria, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Such an official effort against Israel sounds a lot like state-mandated Jew-hate. Here’s how:

First, a state mandate is a decision, law or order issued by a governing or legislative authority. In this case, that authority would be the EU. A state mandate requires those affected to create or modify their actions in order to conform to the mandate. In this case, it means a requirement to label goods.

Second, look at Jew-hate. Jew-hate is the hatred of Jewish people and/or institutions or entities associated with Jews. It’s a phrase used to describe hostile actions aimed against individuals Jews or any entity described as ‘Jewish’.

Third, there’s Israel. Israel is the homeland of the Jews. It’s the independent sovereign entity of the Jewish people. It’s the Jewish state.

State-mandated Jew-hate would, in this case, be a state or legislative order that requires individuals and entities to  modify their activities so as to act with hostility towards Jews.

The EU’s desire to create this labelling to discriminate against Israeli product meets this definition. It’s a request that requires hostile actions against the Jewish state.

I’m not the only one who understands this EU desire in this light. The US Senate Finance Committee has just taken action against the EU specifically because of this boycott effort. The Committee has adopted a new amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill that Congress is scheduled to vote on as early as next week (Rebecca Shimoni Stoilon, “Congress moves to pressure Europe against BDS steps”, Times of Israel, April 23, 2015).  This TPA is part of a US-EU effort to complete a historic trade pact (ibid). This pact is important to both the US and the EU (ibid). The amendment would add the discouragement of BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) actions as a principal objective for US envoys in the talks with Europe (ibid).

Amendment co-author Bill Cardin (D-MD) explained that the reason behind this move was Israel: “Israel is one of America’s closest allies”, he said. It’s “the only stable democracy in the Middle East. We may not agree with every Israeli policy, but we cannot allow our potential trading partners in the EU to fall prey to efforts that threaten Israel’s existence” or seek to de-legitimize its existence (Ben Ariel, “Senate Committee Passes Measures to Combat BDS”, Arutz Sheva, April 24, 2015).

If this amendment gets added to the trade bill, it’ll be a shot across the EU’s bow. It’ll be very interesting to see how far the EU’s attempt at state-mandated Jew-hate gets in the face of a new trade agreement that could come with an anti-boycott condition.

Stay tuned.

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