Israel also corrupts Brussels bureaucrats (but nothing happens).

Partnering with Qatar is a serious crime. Siding with Israel is a shrewd professional decision. But there is nothing unusual in foreign countries’ attempts to buy influence in European institutions.

Transparency watchdogs, exasperated by Qatar’s alleged corruption, have been silent when Israel and its supporters have crossed their arms in its favour.

Israel’s tactics bear many similarities to those of Qatar.

One of the complaints about Qatar is that it has invited politicians on gift trips. Israel and its lobbyists are particularly keen to offer such invitations.

But some of Israel’s tactics are more vicious. This is especially true when it comes to the way Israel shapes the EU’s agenda around anti-Semitism.

Shamelessly, Israel has weaponised the suffering that European Jews have historically endured in an attempt to silence criticism of the oppression suffered by Palestinians today.

The EU’s willingness to pander to Israel can be seen in an event that took place in November. It was billed as a ‘civil society forum’ on anti-Semitism. Although the term ‘civil society’ usually refers to organisations not affiliated with governments, representatives of Israel and its network of lobby groups played an important role in the conference.

The organisations represented at the event are listed in a document obtained through a freedom of information request. Many of these organisations are on Israel’s side when it massacres Palestinians en masse. They include the American Jewish Committee, the European Coalition for Israel and B’nai B’rith.

Another participant, the Israel Information and Documentation Centre (based in the Netherlands), recently admitted to spreading false allegations that the Palestinian human rights organisation Al Haq was involved in terrorist activities.

The Israeli foreign ministry also participated in the conference.

Perhaps more embarrassing was the way in which an EU official present at the event willingly echoed Israeli propaganda. Ana Gallego, Head of the Justice Department of the European Commission (the EU’s executive), told the forum that “we have seen a rise in anti-Semitism among right-wing, left-wing and Islamist extremists”.

Gallego did not cite any evidence to support his claim that left-wing “extremists” are increasingly sectarian.

This is not surprising. He was not making a factual claim, but rather facilitating Israel’s dishonest attempts to portray the left-leaning and vocally anti-racist Palestine solidarity movement as motivated by hatred of Jews.

Given the nature of the forum, Gallego was able to slavishly repeat a lie without having to wait to be rebutted to do so.

A briefing note prepared for her – see below – contained several elements of “defence”. None of them related to her accusation about left-wing “extremists”.

Although in theory “civil society” is a broad and inclusive term, it turns out that the anti-Semitism forum was not an exclusive meeting. Its list of participants did not include any organisation that focuses on Israel’s crimes against humanity.

Until now, the European Commission has pursued a deliberate policy of excluding such organisations from its deliberations on anti-Semitism. Jewish opponents of Israel have been especially ignored.

The EU’s activities in this area are governed by the definition of anti-Semitism developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Based on this definition, EU officials have claimed that it is anti-Semitic to describe Israel as an apartheid state or to denounce Zionism – the state’s ideology – as racist.

Katharina von Schnurbein, the EU’s coordinator against anti-Semitism, sounds increasingly absurd every time she tries to promote the IHRA definition. In a recent exchange with Francesca Albanese, UN special rapporteur on the occupied West Bank and Gaza, von Schnurbein said she did not understand how using the definition was “at odds with supporting the Palestinians and defending their human rights”.

It is hard to believe that von Schnurbein is unaware of the extent to which the definition has become a tool to silence Palestinians living in his native Germany.

Earlier this year, seven journalists were fired by the public broadcaster Deutsche Welle after well-known pro-Israel lobbyist Ahmad Mansour claimed that their comments on the internet violated the definition of the IHRA. Two of the journalists – both Palestinians – subsequently successfully challenged their dismissals in court.

Von Schnurbein meets regularly with Israeli diplomats and lobbyists. He enthusiastically supported Israel’s May 2021 aggression – among others – against Gaza.

All this is permitted – perhaps even encouraged – by the EU hierarchy.

Partnering with Qatar is a serious crime. Partnering with Israel is a wise professional decision.

David Cronin

Translated with (free version)

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