Thursday, June 15, 2017

Europe: Pro-Palestinian lobbies are very active in the European Parliament

Via European Jewish Press - interview of Belgian pro-Israel Member of the European Parliament Frédérique Ries:
Frédérique Ries (R)
EJP: Do you think that today Europe and in particular the European Parliament understands better Israel’s security constraints in light of terror attacks in France, UK and Germany? Today, the conference you hosted highlighted Israel’s innovation, can this help?
F.R. :  I certainly hope it does, that’s why I am doing it… The room was full, it was a great satisfaction for me. I wish it would have been a greater room with even more people attending. Do I think that the world’s look on Israel has changed because unfortunately the whole world is sharing what has been the fate of Israel for 60 years, terrorism and terror attacks?  Of course ministers, foreign affairs ministers and experts from across the world have been flying to Israel to know  about their know-how, their expertise because as I said they know how to tackle terrorism… So certainly the experts from member states they must know better than they used to. I am not sure that here in the European Parliament, parliamentarians really realize that… All of them care about their districts, they have to be elected, some of them are populist, so I think that luckily the eyes of some of them have opened, others don’t really want to open their eyes… They don’t want to see the reality…. So they might be aware of it but they don’t want to see… while others don’t really care about it… Would it be a positive collateral effect of the terror attacks on the EU-Israel relations?    I am not sure I can say that… Israel is a partner more than ever but up to here I didn’t see any reaction from some of my colleagues. 
EJP: An MEP from Hungary told us that the pro-Palestinian lobby in the European parliament is stronger than the pro-Israel lobby. Do you agree with this assessment? 
F.R : Yes it is. But I don’t think ‘stronger’ is the most appropriate word… It is more present. There are many pro-Palestinian organisations. I mean it’s legitimate. I am not going to say it is not legitimate… Everybody has the right to be heard as long as it is in the democratic field. They never approached me so I can’t tell you exactly what they do inside the European Parliament. They never approached me, I never received any request for a meeting or whatsoever… But I know that they are very activeFor the resolution on anti-Semitism that was voted two weeks ago in the plenary in Brussels they were present… They had circulated hundreds of emails questioning the internationally-accepted definition of anti-Semitism. The speeches of some of my colleagues MEPs in the hemicycle echoed precisely the emails coming from the pro-Palestinian lobbies which didn’t want the definition of anti-Semitism because it included a reference to Israel, the hatred of Israel. (...) People have the right to criticize the Israeli government policies, there is no mistake to be  made between the criticism of some policies and anti-Semitism.. but for them it was completely outraged to include Israel and the hatred of Israel in the definition of anti-Semitism. That came exactly from the emails of the pro-Palestinian lobby… Regarding the Israeli counterpart, what is called  a ‘lobby’, I know only the embassy, unless you consider for example that the European Jewish Congress to be a lobby for Israel, which it is not, it is an organization that fighting racism and anti-Semitism... I mean one cannot make confusion.. So there is the Israeli embassy and all the NGOs and different organisations that work for the Palestinians… It’s a bit uneven if you ask me… 
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