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Last week the Israeli news outlet YNET reported that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had instructed Israel’s ambassadors to Europe to distribute a document containing what he termed the “lies and distortions” voiced by European Parliament members during debates on the recognition of Palestinian statehood.
The purpose of Lieberman’s action was to show that such discussions are infected with anti-Semitism.
A recent example of such statements was the remarks made by Independent TD Mick Wallace during the Irish parliamentary debate on Palestinian recognition:
“People might forget but, in 1948, the Jews expelled, massacred, destroyed and raped in Palestine… The war in Gaza was a massacre, with Hamas firing toy rockets.”
During his speech to the Israeli ambassadors in Europe, Lieberman gave another example of a statement that was based on distortions and lies.
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Joan Josep Nuet, a member of the Plural Left parliamentary group, said during a Spanish parliament debate:
“Israel does not respect the UN; it invades Palestinian land and kills its people, therefore a clear position is necessary, because the recognition of a Palestinian state constitutes the planting of a seed of peace.”
“The number of lies and distortions in debates on the recognition of Palestinian statehood in the Irish and Swedish parliaments, and fabrications employed by respected members of parliament is another chapter of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” Lieberman said.
He continued, saying: “One is amazed at how allegedly respected people make things up and lie through their teeth, during very complex debates. You would expect some kind of depth or at least knowledge.”
Lieberman’s statement seems to be based on the assumption that a lack of knowledge is at the root of the problem. Nothing is further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that European politicians are receiving enough information but are willingly ignoring facts that would require them to adjust their political views.
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These politicians prefer to base their opinions solely on the information they receive from the Palestinians and their supporters.
Diplomatic missions in Israel and Ramallah receive translations of Palestinian media reports twice a day. These reports are full of distortions and lies and often use language that resembles downright propaganda.
For example, a group of Jews visiting the Temple Mount was presented by Palestinian media as follows:
“Today a group of Israeli settlers accompanied by the Occupation Army stormed the El-Aqsa Mosque on Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount).”
Palestinian spokesmen lie, too. PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat is a very good example.
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Erekat was the one who fabricated the story about an alleged Israeli massacre in Jenin in 2002. At the time, Erekat claimed that the IDF had committed genocide in the Palestinian town and that 500 Palestinians were randomly killed. He also said that the IDF had dumped 300 corpses in a mass grave. Later, Human Rights Watch published the correct data about the death toll: 52 Palestinians (34 of them participants in the battle) and 29 IDF soldiers died.
Twelve years later, Erekat did the same with the death toll during the war between Israel and Hamas in 2014. In a radio interview, he claimed that 12,000 Palestinians were killed by Israel, 96% of them civilians. In reality, between 1,500 and 2,200 Gazans were killed.
In February 2014, during a conference in the German city of Munich, Erekat lied again when he claimed that he was a descendant of the Canaanite tribes who had lived in Israel 9,000 years ago. The truth is that Erekat’s family is part of a Bedouin tribe that lived in the south of Jordan before moving to Abu Dis in the vicinity of Jerusalem.
European politicians have seriously bought into this kind of propaganda. This was clear during a visit to the Knesset by President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz.
During his speech to the Knesset, Schultz asserted that Israelis use four times the amount of water than the average Palestinian receives and suggested that Israel was responsible for the water shortage in the PA..
He admitted that his claim was solely based on what he had heard from Palestinians. In reality, Israelis use 170 m3 per year and Palestinians 129 m3 per year per capita.
Dr. Attili, the head of the Palestinian Water Company, is responsible for disseminating lies about the water issue. He sends letters to the EU and the U.S. administration that are full of lies and distortions and that blame Israel for all the water problems in the Palestinian Authority.
Even Martin Indyk, the American negotiator in the peace talks between Israel and the PA, has bought into Attili’s propaganda. An anti-Israel rant by Indyk’s team was overheard in a bar in Washington last year.
During that conversation, Israel was blamed for diverting fresh Palestinian water to the settlements and for letting untreated sewage flow into areas where Arabs are living. Both claims are patently false, as is proven by scientists who studied on the subject.
Former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is another example of a politician who used Palestinian propaganda to condemn Israel on numerous occasions. For example, she condemned building in the Jewish neighborhoods of Pisqat Ze’ev and Neve Ya’acov in Jerusalem. Ashton called these neighborhoods ‘illegal Israeli settlements,’ while both neighborhoods were built on lands which were bought by Jews long before the state of Israel was established.
Similar condemnations were issued by the Obama administration. Obama departed from long-standing U.S. policy towards the Israeli settlements. Until his inauguration, the U.S. often called Israeli building in the settlements “not helpful.” Obama started to use language similar to the Europeans and the U.S. State Department and now describes settlement building and other Israeli actions as “unacceptable.”
A Foreign Policy magazine study from the beginning of January found that the State Department used the word “unacceptable“ 87 times in 2014 to describe Israeli actions. Journalist Micah Zenko searched the State Department’s website for usage of the term, and his “top ten” list shows Israel sandwiched right between North Korea and Pakistan.
A similar obsession with Israel is visible at the United Nations. At the UN, only one nation is designated for a special treatment: Israel. From 1947 to 1991, there were about three hundred anti-Israel General Assembly resolutions against Israel. In 2012, there were twenty-two GA resolutions specifically against Israel, while there were only four for the rest of the world combined.
At the UN Human Rights Council, the obsession with Israel borders on insanity. At every session of the Council Israel has a standing agenda item against it. At the same time, the Council seldom discusses actions by countries like Iran, Syria, or North Korea, and has never mentioned Hamas.
During his visit to Israel in 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon admitted that his organization is biased against Israel. Responding to a question by an Israeli student who said Israelis felt their country was discriminated against by the UN, Ban confirmed that there was a biased attitude towards the Israeli people and Israeli government, stressing that it was “an unfortunate situation.”
Ban Ki-moon at least expressed displeasure with the double standard that is used when it comes to Israel. The same cannot be said about politicians in Europe. During a visit to the Jewish State in 2013, former Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans defended the EU’s use of a double standard against Israel.
Jesper Vahr, the Danish ambassador to Israel, went even further in December 2014. During a conference organized by the Jerusalem Post, he told the audience that Israel itself should insist that the EU discriminate against the Jewish state. He explained that this double standard was because Europe views Israel “as one of us.”
His remarks outraged Jerusalem Post star columnist Caroline Glick, who responded (as you can see in the video above) by saying that Europe patronizes Israel and that she considers Europe’s attitude towards the Jewish state an obsession. She also said that Europe is making up international law when it comes to funding Hamas in the Gaza strip and suffers from “an obsessive-compulsive need to constantly pick at the Jewish state.”
The anti-Israel attitudes of Western politicians have fallen on fertile ground among angry masses in Europe, in turn increasing the delegitimization of Israel. It comes therefore as no surprise that on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s top ten list of the worst anti-Semitic incidents in 2014, Europe had six mentions.
The number one slot went to a Belgian doctor who refused to provide medical care to a 90-year old Jewish woman. The assault on a Jewish couple in Paris, which included the brutal rape of a woman, ranked No.3 on the list.
The year 2015 is two weeks old now and last weekend Europe experienced one of the worst anti-Semitic incidents against European Jews since the end of WWII when four Jews were gunned down in a kosher supermarket in Paris.
True, this attack is part of an ongoing war by Islamists against anything that is Jewish, be it the Jewish state or Jewish people, but one cannot ignore the fact that this attack against Jewish people took place in Europe again.
The incitement against the people of Israel by European media, NGOs, and politicians should not be allowed to continue since it accounts for a large part of the increasing anti-Semitism on the continent.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.