THIS JULY the European Union announced its new official policy of boycotting Jews and Israelis in areas of Israel liberated in the 1967 Six Day War, including Judea, Samaria and most of Jerusalem.
Starting in 2014, contracts and agreements between EU businesses, institutions and individuals from those newly outlawed areas will no longer be legally recognised by EU courts.
Source: Breaking Christian News
EU boycott will harm Arabs’ jobs and undermines EU’s credibility
says Robin Benson of Christian Friends of Israel
“WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE?”
This question seems to sum up the general theme of much of the negative feedback, from a wide variety of sources, to the recently published EU Commission guidelines banning cooperation with Israeli/Jewish institutions and businesses in Judea and Samaria (commonly called the West Bank), the Golan Heights area near Israel’s border with Syria, and in what is misnamed “East Jerusalem”.
These areas are all beyond the so-called “green line”…the armistice lines agreed upon by Israel and her genocide-desiring Arab neighbours at the end of Israel’s 1948-1949 War of Independence and the 1967 Six-Day War. But as with other contentious issues in the Middle East in general – and in Israel in particular – things are not always as black and white as they initially appear.
While it is fair to say that much of the indignation expressed over these guidelines is justified, it should also be noted that some EU bureaucrats have spent a lot of time since the announcement trying to assure Israelis that the guidelines make no changes and mean next to nothing. Furthermore, it is also likely that some individual EU nations – for example Germany, the Netherlands and the UK – may actually either oppose the guidelines or else just ignore them, such are the growing levels of two-way trade between Israel and these (and other) EU countries.
There are, nevertheless, some undesired consequences attached to these restrictions as they unfold across the 28 member states of the EU. Here are three… just for starters.
Firstly, there is a strong level of consensus (even vocalised by some Palestinian Arab leaders) that these restrictions will do most harm to the thousands of Palestinians who work or study in these disputed areas, with the very real potential that many of them will lose their jobs or the financial support they receive from the EU to continue with their education at university level.
Secondly, this apparently arbitrary action by the EU Commission has most certainly further undermined the European Union’s already diminished credibility as an impartial and honest broker in any negotiations between Israel and the leaders of the Palestinian Arabs. At the same time it also reinforces the belief held by the many factions in the Palestinian Authority that if they wait long enough, they will get everything they want without having to concede anything to the Israelis in return.
Lastly, this move is music to the ears of the small, but very vocal and very well financed BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Movement. You can see an example of them in action every Saturday between 1pm and 3pm outside the environmentally friendly EcoStream shop in Western Road, Brighton.
Members of the local Jewish and Christian communities, who support Israel and its people, have recently been encouraged to visit the shop during these hours on Saturdays, to show that they will not be intimidated by these boycotters, and also encourage the shop’s staff that not everyone agrees with these protestors and their verging-on-racist stance.
In closing, it is probably fair to say that this latest upset has caused some damage to Israel’s relations with the European Union at a political and diplomatic level. However, at the level of the ‘man in the street’ in Israel itself, and across the disputed territories claimed by the Palestinian Arabs, the long-term outcome is much more a case of “wait and see”.
Robin Benson is Head of Communication, Christian Friends of Israel (UK)