Monday, April 27, 2015

Is Hamas gaining traction in Europe?

Hamas is indeed most welcome in Europe and the organisers are most grateful to the Europeans for extending them such a warm welcome.  They boast:
Despite pro Israeli campaigns, 13th Palestinians in Europe Conference held in Germany. The conference started among huge participation of more than 10 thousand Palestinians who came from across Europe. [...]
Over the past 4 weeks, a huge negative campaign from pro Israeli lobby supported with some right wing media newspapers smeared the conference and circulated various allegations. The campaign called on German authorities in Berlin to cancel the event however, they were turned back. The Israeli lobby and right wing activists failed to mobilize for a set in where few dozens showed up to protest against the conference. [...]
During the previous nine years the conference was held in various European cities like London 2003, Berlin 2004, Vienna 2005, Malmo 2006, Rotterdam 2007, Copenhagen 2008, Milan 2009, Berlin 2010 and Wuppertal, Germany 2011, Kopenhagen 2012, Brüssels 2013 and Paris 2014. 

Benjamin Weinthal asks @ The Jerusalem Post whether Hamas is gaining traction in Europe:

The 13th Palestinians in Europe Conference on Saturday once again catapulted Hamas’s activities into the spotlight.  The organizers of the event – the London-based Palestinian Return Center and the Palestinian Community in Germany –have ties to Hamas, according to Berlin’s domestic intelligence agency. An estimated 3,000 people pre-registered for the event. Some 200 protesters from the “Berlin against Hamas” campaign demonstrated against the conference, Radio Berlin-Brandenburg reported on Saturday.

Dilek Kolat, a Berlin state senator from the Social Democrats who holds the Integration portfolio, attacked the conference for not distancing itself from the goal of eliminating Israel. “That is intolerable and unacceptable here in Berlin,” she said.

The conference logo shows a map of the Middle East without Israel, and the organizers call for the “right of return” of all Palestinians to Israel.

Ahead of the conference, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Jerusalem Post, “We raised this matter with the German ambassador to the US. This is no mere academic exercise. It is about legitimizing those committed in word and deed to the destruction of world’s largest Jewish community, the over 6 million Jewish citizens of the State of Israel. Allowing this conference to go forward in Berlin at this time will further embolden anti-Israel extremists in Germany and further legitimize the demonization of Jews and all other supporters of Israel.”  [...]

The conference comes after a legal fight over removing Hamas from the European Union’s terrorist list.  In December, the EU’s General Court ruled that Hamas had been classified as a terrorist organization based on inadmissible non-expert media reports, instead of “decisions of competent authorities.”  Hamas remains on the list while an appeal is filed.  [...]

Counterterrorism officials in Europe and Israel’s government are closely watching Europe’s posture toward Hamas.  Europe’s cautious approach to Islamic terrorist organizations was on display with its reluctance to outlaw Hezbollah’s entire organization in 2013.  While the EU branded Hezbollah’s so-called military wing a terrorist entity, Europe’s foreign ministers did not outlaw Hezbollah’s political structure on the continent.

The mainstreaming of Hamas among some segments of civil society raised alarm bells. In April, soccer fans sang “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas,” at a match in the Netherlands. According to The Washington Post, “The shocking chants weren’t an isolated incident, however. Instead, they were the latest in a string of anti-Semitic episodes that threaten to mar European soccer.”  More.

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