The European Union recently sent out a directive barring its 28 members from cooperating with Israeli entities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The boycott includes “all funding, cooperation, and the granting of scholarships, research grants and prizes” to Israeli entities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
If this is how the E.U. chooses to spend its limited diplomatic and political resources “to help” the Middle East, then its moral compass is badly broken. The E.U. still hasn’t even mustered the clarity or courage to join the United States, Canada and six Gulf states (led by Bahrain) in designating Hezbollah a terrorist organization, even though Hezbollah has committed terrorist acts on E.U. soil that killed an E.U. citizen, and has supported Basher al-Assad’s butchery in Syria. The E.U. has also failed to take any decisive action to address the urgent crises in Lebanon, Syria and Iran (which marches ever closer to nukes and imports ore — for armor and missile production — from Germany and France). And where is the E.U.’s boycott of Middle East governments that persecute women, execute homosexuals and condone the slaughter of Christians?
If the E.U. wants to wield its economic clout to impose peace on disputing parties, why not boycott China for its brutal occupation of Tibet? Clearly that occupation doesn’t matter, because the E.U. is China’s largest trading partner. And why isn’t the E.U. boycotting Northern Cyprus, which is under foreign military occupation by Turkey (against the wishes of the E.U.)?
The hypocrisy is even more flagrant because some E.U. states are occupying disputed territories on various continents. One of the most notorious examples is the Falkland Islands. What exactly is the United Kingdom’s burning security interest in occupying a Latin American island nearly 8,000 miles away? Maybe the E.U. should boycott the U.K., as well. In the end, an E.U. boycott of Israel is just a cheap way to score political points with the oil-producing Arab states and the growing Muslim population on European soil.
Indeed, the E.U.’s anti-Israel directive resembles Stephen Hawking’s ill-fated attempt to inject himself into the Israeli-Palestinian controversy. Just as he absurdly chose to boycott the country largely responsible for the technology that enables him to communicate, the E.U. shamelessly targets the only country in the Middle East that actually shares the E.U.’s democratic values, respect for human rights, pluralism and the rule of law (not to mention shared interests, like curbing Iranian nukes, developing natural gas resources in the Mediterranean Sea and seeing moderates prevail in the volatile Middle East).
Putting aside the E.U.’s abundant hypocrisy, trying to strong-arm Israel into unilateral concessions has already proved to be an abysmal failure when it comes to promoting peace.
Just ask President Obama, who in 2009 pressured Israel into a 10-month settlement freeze in the West Bank without requiring any reciprocal gestures from the Palestinians. They quickly realized that they don’t need to negotiate with Israel, because Obama was doing that for them. One can hardly blame Palestinians for trying to maximize their negotiating posture, even if it lacks good faith. Thus, peace talks have remain stalled for Obama’s entire presidency, even though Secretary of State John Kerry will soon make his sixth peace-pushing trip (in as many months) to the region.