As Hamas rocket attacks on Israel intensify, the European Union seems to have a case of amnesia over who, exactly, is pushing the buttons. In a statement, the Europeans condemned the indiscriminate firing, but never once mentioned Hamas.
Who exactly does the EU think is firing rockets at Israel?
One thing is for sure: the Hamas rockets have nothing to do with Israel's settlement policy. Yet, the European Union, which looked the other way when the Palestinian Authority threw the Kerry peace initiative overboard by announcing a reconciliation with Hamas, has, for years, been fixated on settlements as being the one and only impediment to peace.
This, despite it being widely known exactly what territory would remain with Israel, and what would go to the Palestinians -- if there were ever to be an agreement between the two sides.
The EU's posturing on this issue actually helps Hamas by deflecting attention from its nihilistic campaign against Israel, but also aids and abets Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority by dismissing or marginalizing Palestinian incitement against Israel and Jews.
Hamas has now added social media, texts and video threats to its arsenal, telling Israelis to prepare for suicide bombings and other terror attacks. This psychological warfare coupled with the hundreds of rockets launched at Israel demonstrates, yet again, that Hamas simply seeks the destruction of Israel.
Even after the Palestinian Authority and Hamas joined forces and announced a new Palestinian “government,” and even as the news of the kidnapping of three Israeli teens was being reported, and as Israel charged Hamas with the kidnappings, the EU’s envoy in Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, was warning that Europe is “losing patience” with Israel over the settlement issue.
While all this was happening, EU member states such as Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the United Kingdom warned investors that doing business in Israeli enterprises beyond the Green Line would transgress international law. In others words, continuing their fixation on Israeli settlements—as if it were the only issue preventing peace from breaking out.
But it is Israel that should be showing frustration with the one-note narrative the Palestinians have laid out and that the Europeans seem to be accepting, without challenge. How presumptuous for those European countries to lecture Israel on “losing patience.”
When the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, the Palestinian side solemnly promised to end incitement. It has not. Hardly a day has passed over these past two decades without inflammatory articles in the official media, sermons by paid Palestinian Authority clerics, anti-Semitic lessons in schoolbooks and glorification and praise of terrorist acts saturating the population of both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Teach hatred of Israelis and Jews for more than 20-years, and you will raise a generation that sees no problem at all in taking the lives of three young men trying to get back home on that dreadful evening. More than that: you’ve made murder a badge of honor.
Since Oslo, the EU and most of its member states have marginalized this unending stream of hatred and have largely focused on settlements. The Palestinian spokesmen and their apologists zero in on settlements to further grind away at Israel’s international standing, and to minimize whatever concessions they must make if a deal is to be reached.
By looking past or dismissing the fomenting of hatred against Israel and Jews, the Europeans are setting back, not advancing, the cause of peace. As long as the Palestinian leadership sanctions the demonization of its erstwhile negotiating partner and its people, one can’t speak seriously about achieving an agreement, or one that can last.
Whatever one thinks of the settlement issue, it’s not as if there has been no discussion of it in hours of face-to-face meetings. The Palestinian side would prefer to sell, and the Europeans have clearly bought into, the notion that nothing has been discussed.
Without a clear rejection of the official hatred that emanates not only from Gaza, but from official circles in the West Bank itself, we’ll not likely get to the point where real coexistence can be achieved. The Europeans should know that.
Wouldn’t it better that Faaborg-Andersen and the Europeans lose their patience with those on the Palestinian side who teach children to hate and who proffer garlands and bonuses to terrorists released from prison?
Europe is losing its patience? What about Israel's patience? For years Israel has been relentlessly and repeatedly excoriated at the United Nations Human Rights Council, and yet most anti-Israel resolutions have too often been met with rote abstentions from Europe, and in certain instances, votes against Israel.
The increased hyper-criticism pouring out from a number of governments in Europe seemingly removes any pretext of objectivity in helping settle the tough issues.
In issuing declarations on settlements only, by ignoring incitement, and by not harshly criticizing Hamas by name and not calling on the Palestinian Authority to end its strange joint governing arrangement with the Gaza terrorist organization, the European states as well as the EU itself, only serve to elevate Palestinian expectations, reinforcing their belief in a zero-sum outcome to this contentious conflict. After all, why do the tough work when the European silver platter of pressure on Israel is a constant?
With Syria still burning out of control, Iraq about to split into three parts, and Iran supplying arms to Hezbollah and Hamas, along with the murder of the teens, you'd think these European countries would be "losing patience" with those developments. Instead, they zero in on Israel, which is democracy's staunchest practitioner in the region.
Daniel S. Mariaschin is Executive Vice President of B'nai B'rith International.