Europe's Crocodile Tears
On Thursday, the European Commission held a seminar on anti-Semitism. This helped clarify what we already knew - that the EU strongly condemns anti-Semitism. At the same time, Europe continues to encourage what it condemns with its Middle East policy and with the anti-Semitic war it is helping to finance against Israel.
It is a well-known fact that parts of the EU funding to the Palestinian Authority ( 945 million from 2000 and 2003) were channeled to an undisclosed budget and that the PA has financed a terrorist war against Israel. In May 2002, Israel provided the European Commission with proof of the diversion of PA funds for terrorism.
Since then, the commission has denied having any knowledge of these facts, and the European parliament successfully stalled an inquiry committee on this issue. Instead of preventing the use of EU money to kill citizens of Israel, the majority of the political establishment dreams of an international "peace enforcement" against Israel, led or joined by the EU.
The German government is already discussing its participation in such military action, which would mean that German soldiers could shoot at Jews again. Such action would amount to the breaking of the last taboo of German foreign and military policy since the Holocaust. Israel is in danger of being the next victim of European superpower ambitions. Today, the cold war against the Jewish state is underway.
Ideologically as well, the vast majority of Europeans see Israel's existence as the root cause of the threat to world peace. It is not a coincidence, then, that the media portrays Israel as a brutal oppressor always ready to kill innocent women and children, unwilling to have an equal partnership with the Palestinians.
European media coverage of the Middle East should be no surprise to students of the history of anti-Semitism in Europe, since it regularly makes use of old stereotypes. It is not surprising that the widespread conspiracy theories are related to anti-Americanism and the notion of a "worldwide Jewish conspiracy." Nor should it amaze that the situation for Jews in Europe has worsened in the last three years. These are all direct outcomes of the political situation that the European Union, along with its member states and the media, has created.
The relationship between the EU's actions and the open expression of anti-Semitism is among the last things responsible EU officials would like to be discussed publicly. Yet they know that this open expression is the logical result of their efforts for "peace and understanding" in the Middle East.
When a report discreetly suggested that it would not be totally absurd to see a link between the hate towards Israel and the growth of anti-Semitism worldwide, it was suppressed by a European agency - the very same agency supposed to fight racism and xenophobia.
When more than 60% of the Europeans described Israel as an important threat to world peace, nearly everyone was sure that the questions were not posed properly. Whoever challenged the European support for Arafat and his colleagues waging a bloody war against Israel was silenced by the reference to Israel's aggressive policies against the people living in the territories. As if Israel were the only nation state that resorts to force to defend itself in a war against anti-Semitic terrorism.
A NEW report may challenge this point of view. In February 2003, OLAF, the anti-fraud office of the EU, started an investigation into Israeli accusations concerning the misuse of the EU money. In January 2004, OLAF investigators were sent to Israel and the PA. What nobody expected seems to have proved true. OLAF - well known for its inefficiency - might end the cover-up policy of the European Union concerning its fatal role in the region.
During the past weeks, several German and Austrian newspapers reported that even the investigating OLAF team could not deny that the accusations are well justified. Since then, the attitude of European parliament members toward the commission and its policy gained a new quality.
Markus Ferber (German Conservative) was quoted as saying that the resignation of Commissioner Patten could be a "quite possible" outcome of the OLAF investigations. Johannes Swoboda (Austrian Socialist), formerly fighting any serious inquiry, told the Austrian newspaper Die Presse that there "are hints which suggest that financial support was indirectly channelled to the surroundings of terrorist organizations." Only a few days later, Armin Laschet (German Conservative) was cited, "It is obvious that the direct budgetary assistance to the Palestinian Authority was a big mistake."
Up to now, no efforts have been made to back up such talk. On February 18, however, the French journal La Lib ration reported that the supposedly confidential OLAF report concluded that there was no misuse of the EU aid to the PA at all - even if OLAF in the same report supposedly admits that $300 million vanished without a trace. This revelation should have sparked a public outcry that the European Union has been inadvertently funding attacks on Israeli citizens. Instead of triggering a thorough investigation, everyone is trying to downplay the EU's indirect hand in a war against Israel.
In 2004, a new parliament and a new commission will be elected. Hardly any European politician could be interested in having the EU's support of the war against Israel become an issue in the European elections. Conservatives, Socialists, Liberals, Greens, and Leftists were involved in downplaying, hushing up, and denying the mortal effects of the European peace policy. The collective hope is that nobody will be interested in the scandal after June 2004.
Maybe EU officials will seek to avoid a major scandal by officially condemning the "misuse" of EU money, which they allowed to happen and refuse to correct. During the next months, we may have to listen to uncommonly sweet songs of solidarity with the Jewish people.
Maybe or maybe not. But even if Europe adopts a more moderate tone in the coming months, the dream of German blue helmets on patrol in east Jerusalem will still be alive. The strategy may change, but the aim will be the same: to use the Middle East as a playing field for Europe's ambitions to become an independent and dominant superpower in world politics.
Ilka Schroeder is a German politician who is currently a member of the European Parliament. Her roots are in left-wing politics. She has consistently campaigned against the diversion of EU funds to corrupt regimes and terrorism and away from their original intention goal, to help the Palestinian man in the street. Her website is www.ilka.org.
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