This article originally appeared in the Times of Israel.
If I was a Palestinian currently residing in the disputed territories, I would take to the streets in protest against the recent decision of the European Union to desist from funding Israeli entities located beyond the Green Line. The gravest danger ensuing from this decision is that it is apt to escalate into a general boycott of any products produced from the territories, like we witnessed recently in South Africa.
Who will be the primary victim of such a scenario? The Palestinians, themselves. Indeed, all of the Israeli factories located beyond the Green Line, without exception, employ Palestinian workers. These Israeli businesses provide 70,000 jobs for the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria. Who will provide their future employment, the European Union?
The Europeans made a poor decision, which fails to take the real needs of the Palestinians into account. That fact becomes all the more evident upon consideration of what they have chosen to continue funding beyond the Green Line.
The European Union will continue to fund, for instance, the UNRWA schools, which encourage Palestinian youth to carry out a bloody jihad against the Jewish people, and hold elaborate ceremonies to honor the lives of suicide bombers.
The Europeans will continue to fund the PLO government of Abu Mazen, an administration, which harshly abuses the human rights of the Palestinian people via forced suppression of the media, arbitrary arrests, torture, and executions without trial.
They will also continue to fund Abu Mazen’s salary, which according to Palestinian sources is 1,000,000 Euros per month. While the majority of Palestinians live in abject poverty, Abu Mazen’s net worth is estimated to be in excess of 100,000,000 Euros. It is interesting to note that his salary is about 110 times higher than the average salary of a Member of the European Parliament.
Classic Arguments No Longer Work against Classic Anti-Semitism
Without a doubt, this recent decision stems from classic European anti-Semitism, the type of anti-Semitism that ignores the facts on the ground and seeks every opportunity to assault the legitimacy of the Jewish people and the existence of the Jewish State in the Land of Israel. That is exactly what our Israeli diplomats will declare in the next few days through every available media outlet. The problem is that this message has lost its broadcasting value.
The European collective memory is short, and unfortunately most Europeans are fed up with hearing about the tragedies of the Holocaust. The new generation of European leaders does not see itself as responsible for the failures of its parents and grandparents in the past century, nor does it view those failures as relevant to current political realities. So what can be done? How can we improve the diplomatic status of the State of Israel and fight its increasing de-legitimization?
It’s Time to Embrace the Human Rights Discourse
In my opinion, we need to stop quarreling about the rights of the Jewish people and begin a new public discourse, based entirely on the human rights of the Palestinians. There is no doubt that the Palestinian Authority is advancing an agenda, which is diametrically opposed to the values upon which the European Union was established, values of personal freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Hence, the Palestinian Authority is the primary abuser of human rights in the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
Certainly any intelligent person understands, especially after the recent upheaval in Egypt, that the establishment of another radical Islamic regime in the region will not result in peace. To the extent that the Palestinian Authority, in its current form and function, receives more legitimacy, the quality of life in the Palestinian street will deteriorate.
If the European Union is sincerely interested in the welfare of the Palestinian people, it should precondition its financial aid to their government on genuine steps toward implementing human rights reforms. I said these exact words when I was given the opportunity to speak before the European Parliament last November. What was promised to the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, as a response to this challenge, was an “examination of the issue by the Budgetary Commission of the European Union”. I continue to hope and believe that they will honor this commitment.
The State of Israel and the Palestinian people have a common interest: a proper Palestinian democracy. If the benchmark for recognition of a Palestinian State were based on the proof of its ability to maintain proper governance, an administration that protects individual freedoms, democracy, the rule of law and human rights, the future of the Middle East would look different and far better. A dream? Not in my view.
I call upon our politicians to adopt this discourse and this concept. I am convinced that if they choose not to, we will continue to read daily reports about decisions of this or that Union; decisions, which will continue to slowly but surely erode the security, and socio-economic condition of both the State of Israel and the Palestinian people.