Sunday, March 6, 2016

Europe: Ferociously anti-Israel mini-movements became the norm in W. Europe

Oxfam, Belgium
The great strength of the BDS movement in Europe is that they are extremely well organised, determined, professional, they are full of hate for Israel, well funded and transcend frontiers - anti-Israel miliants can be found in every European country and in every city.  And of course they use the Internet to spread their hatred of Israel.  There no such movement to counter their actions, not even at national level let alone at the European level.  As Benjamin Weinthal writes it was given international exposure at the 2001 UN Durban "anti-racism" conference - fifteen years later the European Jewish community has not put in place a single concerted initiative to counter this.

Benjamin Weinthal,  fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, @ Jerusalem Post:

A lack of US-style resistance to the growing BDS movement in Europe has ignited a worrisome trend across the continent. It is now up to pro-Israel groups to extinguish the flames.
To fathom the potency (or lack thereof) of the BDS movement targeting Israel, the diverging and converging paths of its activity in the US and EU can be quite telling.

First, the divergences: Buoyed by the infamous 2001 UN Durban “anti-racism” conference in South Africa, ferociously anti-Israel mini-movements became the norm in Western Europe. Nearly 15 years after the conference, large sectors of European Muslims and hard-leftists, bolstered by an indifferent mainstream society, have turned BDS into an assault on Israel’s legitimacy.

The economic damage done to Israel by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is rather insignificant thus far. Rather, BDS is about lethal force. In short, the extremist core of the movement seeks to dismantle Israel. The British poet W.H. Auden understood where movements animated by a fundamentally irrational ideology lead: “When words lose their meaning, physical force takes over.”

As the late Dr. Robert Wistrich, the former head of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University, explained to this writer, there are still “countervailing forces” in the US to blunt efforts, especially on the grassroots level, to turn Israel into an abnormal state.

But the lack of civil society resistance to the ad nauseam attacks on Israel within Western European countries is disquieting. The challenge for anti-BDS activists will be to sway the vast number of undecided, largely apolitical constituencies in Europe.

As the Jerusalem-based watchdog NGO Monitor has documented, European governments have pumped tens of millions of euros into NGOs that support various forms of BDS. The mushrooming industry of BDS-animated NGOs in Europe is not matched in the United States.   [...]

The 800-pound gorilla in the room that separates Europe from the US is the Holocaust.

The Shoah still informs large segments of Europe’s psychology – and frequently in a pathological way.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s play The Garbage, the City and Death, written in 1975, neatly captures an aspect of Europe’s preoccupation with Jews: “And it’s the Jew’s fault, because he makes us feel guilty because he exists. If he’d stayed where he came from, or if they’d gassed him, I would sleep better,” said one of the characters.

The transformation from “It’s the Jew’s fault” to “It’s Israel’s fault” is part and parcel of the BDS movement in European discourse.  [...]
By contrast, the French government has a robust anti-discrimination law that covers full-blown boycotts targeting Israel. The French, however, are in a kind of split-personality mood. President François Hollande’s government energetically supports labeling of Israeli products and other unilateral penalties against Israel. Put simply, the French posture could help accelerate the slippery slope of anti-Israel activity into more BDS actions.

BDS can spread in Europe like wildfire. Consequently, one barely puts a BDS defeat in the rearview mirror before a new BDS action appears on the scene. Legislative and political measures will certainly help stem the flow of BDS. In the final analysis, however, if pro-Israel groups and local Jewish communities can bring about a radical attitudinal change within large swathes of the indifferent masses to stop the BDS program in Europe, there might be a sea change in public opinion.

If the unrealized potential of broad-based European pro-Israel views could be set in motion, it would create an additional convergence with American society.

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