During a pro-settlement conference at the European Parliament entitled ‘EU-Israel relations: impact of the new EU guidelines on Israel and their effects on the EU, Israeli and Palestinian economies’, Bayit Yehudi’s Ayelet Shaked denounced the EU decision to stop funding projects pertaining to settlement areas, once again relying upon the history of the Holocaust in an attempt to portray a similarity between the plight of Jews during the period and the alleged suffering of Jews upon the implementation of the guidelines.
“If Europe thinks Jews will return to the days when we were forced to mark out products – you can forget it. De-legitimisation of parts of Israel by Europe is the new anti-Semitism. The old anti-Semitism led to the destruction of our people in gas chambers. We will not allow the new anti-Semitism to hurt us.” Shaked’s comments also veered to Islamophobia, alleging that the EU’s opposition to settlement activity proves that Europe is “occupied by the forces of radical Islam”.
The belligerent Israeli attitude hosted a number of interwoven contradictions. The accusation of anti-Semitism in relation to settlement activity has become a rhetorical commodity invoked in almost every criticism levelled against Israel. The EU has yet to establish a stance through which it consistently distances itself from Israel – although the settlement guidelines aim to curb settlement activity, there seems to be no further inclination to hold Israel accountable for its atrocities. Israeli human rights violations have mostly been condoned by the EU or else marginally recognised in order to distort the occupation into an equal conflict, thus acknowledging the presence of Palestinians solely as an addition to the question of the right to land instead of asserting their legitimate rights.
While the guidelines provide a preliminary recognition of the harm inflicted by the Israeli occupation, the EU has embarked upon differentiating between 1948 and 1967. The EU recognition of the occupation’s expansion following 1967 neglects the Israeli ethnic cleansing of 1948, thus supporting the fragmentation of Palestinian memory into scattered groups – an Israeli tactic of dispelling the right to land by forcibly obliterating the identity of a Palestinian nation. Shaked’s claim of de-legitimisation by Europe fails to address the obvious – Israel’s allies are intent on evading responsibility for their support of the occupation, hence the publication and implementation of proposals which do not undermine Israel’s authority in the region.
Israel’s interpretation of the guidelines as ‘forcing us to cede land’ being detrimental to the occupying power’s security is substantial to prolong the self-imposed ‘existential threat’ raised several times by Israeli leaders. The establishment of the illegal state has generated the internationally recognised right to resist. While Palestinians have embarked upon diverse methods of confrontation including armed resistance and the preservation of identity and memory, Israel continues to impose its superior military and intelligence power while portraying itself as a vulnerable and isolated victim by resorting to a re-enactment of Jewish suffering during the holocaust. There is one particular distortion. While European guilt has ensured unrivalled protection of the illegal state, it has also ensured the continuation of international law violations by failing to respect the entire Palestinian population as a single, national entity.
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