Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Op-Ed: Europe cares about fighting antisemitism, except when it really matters

It is easy to fight antisemitism when your opponent is antisemitic.  It is much harder when it's somebody on your side of the aisle.

European leaders talk high and mighty against antisemitism.  Do they really mean it?

The test to their words came up this past week, when Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas stood before the European Parliament and blamed Jewish rabbis for inciting the Israeli government to poison wells. 

The European response?

The MEPs stood up and applauded.

European Parliament president Martin Schulz tweeted that it was "an inspiring address".

This is all par for the course. 

Mahmoud Abbas and various other Palestinian leaders regularly incite against Jews.  This incitement results in Jews getting murdered - in Israel and in Europe.

Europe regularly responds to such incitement by ignoring it and by publicly supporting those same Palestinian leaders.

A reader asked various EU leaders for their response. 

European Parliament spokesperson:
The format of the address is constructed in a way, that the leaders give their speeches without any debate afterwards. As a matter of courtesy, some MEPs stand up to applaud at the end of the addresses, which was not an exception with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

This is how polite MEPs react to blood libel 

This is how polite MEPs react to something they don't like.

See the difference?

Katharina von Schnurbein, Coordinator on combating Antisemitism:
Allegations of Jews poising water are age-old accusations. The European institutions strongly condemn all forms of Antisemitism and the spreading of such misconceptions to society at large.

We understand that Mr Abbas as retracted his expressions. However, given the external policy dimension of your questions, could I kindly ask you to refer further questions to the European External Action Service.

Summary: We reject antisemitism in principle, but we don't think it's the job of the Coordinator on combating Antisemitism to say anything against blood libels in the European Parliament. 

European External Action Service:
In his statement before the European Parliament on 23 June, the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas mistakenly alleged that rabbis in Israel had asked their government to poison water supplies so as to kill Palestinians, citing it as an example of incitement to violence.  We understand President Abbas has retracted his claim two days later, calling it baseless and saying it had not been his intention to harm Judaism or to offend Jewish people.

The EU is determined to fight antisemitism in all its forms wherever it comes from. Antisemitism is not just a threat to Jews, but to the very values that Europe stands for.
Summary: This is as close as you're going to get to us condemning blood libels in the European Parliament.  We see no problem with applauding blood libels. 

As far as European leaders are concerned: It is okay to incite against Jews, especially if you take the most blatantly antisemitic parts of it back after a few days, and it's okay to applaud such antisemitic incitement, because it's "a matter of courtesy" and it was an "inspiring address".

If it bothers you that Abbas stood before the European Parliament and incited against Jews, then you must be Jewish.  Because nobody else really cares.

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