RAMALLAH — In comparison to the madman in the White House, Europe may look less bellicose, less confrontational and less unreasonable in its overall approach to contentious international issues.
However, when the issue is the Palestinian plight, the U..S and Europe look very much like tweedledee and tweedledum.
In recent months and years, European leaders from Germany’s Merkel, to France’s Sarkozy, to Britain’s Brown and Italy’s Berlusconi have shamelessly pandered to Israeli savagery to the extent of embracing relentless Israeli criminality against the Palestinian people, including the ongoing genocidal ethnic cleansing in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly in the Gaza Strip.
True, the European tone of speech often sounds less odious, especially when compared with the unmitigated saber-rattling coming from Washington. But, in the final analysis, the outcome in both cases is similar. In fact, the U.S. and Europe collaborate and even collude to effect the same unethical goals often by playing the old game of good cop and bad cop, with their persecuted victims, whether in Palestine, Sudan or Iran.
But Europe has been playing the “good-cop role” so miserably that many people in the Middle East ( I am speaking of ordinary people, not the dignity-free American puppet regimes) are wondering whether Europe, too, has been taken over by the war-minded neocons.
To be sure, no Palestinian or Arab is demanding that Europe, especially countries such as Germany, adopt a hostile stand toward Israel.
However, European states, including Germany, should, regardless of all other considerations including the heavy legacy of the Holocaust, make it abundantly clear to Israel that blockading the Palestinians, starving them and killing them are criminal acts that go far beyond the pale of what is acceptable.
Some European officials do make occasional statements criticizing Israeli atrocities and draconian actions against helpless Palestinians. However, European reluctance to act on these statements suggests that the E.U. is not serious about adopting an honest approach to the Palestinian question.
If Europe wants to be serious and honest with regard to Israel’s manifestly criminal behavior in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, it should tell the thuggish Israeli leadership that the strangulation of Gaza is as evil as the strangulation of the Warsaw Ghetto was in 1943.
It should tell Israel that starving and tormenting and killing innocent people under the pretext of punishing Hamas for not recognizing the manifestly criminal state is incompatible with international law and human decency.
It should tell Israel that strangling the Palestinian economy in the West Bank by erecting more than 500 Nazi-like roadblocks outside every Palestinian town, village, hamlet and refugee camp is a crime against humanity which Europe can’t tolerate.
Europe should tell Israel that barring tens of thousands of Palestinian intellectuals, journalists and writers from traveling abroad is unacceptable.
Israel routinely indulges in every conceivable violation of Palestinian dignity and human rights, and Europe is not unaware of the situation as hundreds of European observers, monitors, diplomats and activists based in the Occupied Territories regularly communicate to their capitals the bleak reality of the Israeli occupation.
Hence, European inaction or reluctance to call the spade a spade where Israel is concerned is not due to ignorance of the reality in Palestine, but rather to a willful European decision to play blind, deaf and dumb and look the other way, thus effectively leaving the Palestinians alone to face their fate at the hands of a state that is very much a crime against humanity.
In recent weeks, Israel said it would build thousands of fresh Jewish-only settler units all over the West Bank, including occupied Arab East Jerusalem. This constitutes a brazen violation of the Quartet-sponsored “roadmap” and the spirit of the entire “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
And while the decision drew angry reactions from some peace-minded Israeli circles, such as Gush Shalom, the capitals of Europe were totally silent.
To be honest, French Foreign Minister Bernard Koshner, who is a Jew, criticized the colonial expansion during an investment conference in Bethlehem in the West Bank last week. However, the cordial embrace of Israel by French President Sarkozy seems to have convinced the Israeli leadership that whatever criticisms of Israeli crimes uttered by the French foreign minister should be dismissed outright as an insincere PR ruse geared toward Arab consumption.
On May 23, the United Nations reported that the number of Israeli roadblocks in the West Bank increased by 7 per cent since last September. This is despite repeated pledges and undertakings by the Zionist state to ease Palestinian movement.
The U.N. office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Jerusalem reported that the overall number of roadblocks and other barriers increased from 566 on September 4, 2007, to 607 on April 29, 2008. Israel, the report said, removed 103 obstacles, but constructed 144 new closures.
Again, there has been no word of condemnation from the capitals of Europe, the very capitals that have been boycotting Hamas for refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and genocidal ethnic cleansing of its native inhabitants.
Paradoxically, this shameful silence comes amid a loud chorus of European calls for reviving the moribund Palestinian economy, mainly due to Israeli restrictions on mobility and accessibility.
Tony Blair, the hopelessly dishonest former British Prime Minister, has used every conceivable occasion to promote his “economy-first” theory with regard to the Palestinians, mainly in the hope that economic inducements would entice the Palestinians to compromise on such paramount cardinal issues such as the right of return for the refugees and East Jerusalem.
However, despite all his meetings with Israeli officials and highly optimistic pronouncements, all he has been able to achieve is to get the Israeli army to remove one or two roadblocks out of more than 500.
This is the man who has been striving to convince the world that building a prosperous Palestinian economy under a Nazi-like Israeli occupation was a choice worth pursuing.
Needless to say, a morally-inconsistent European approach toward the Palestinian plight doesn’t auger well, neither for Europe nor for the world at large.
Indeed, if Europe, along with the U.S., continues to allow the “forces of the jungle” to determine the rule of the game (international politics), then all states will have to draw their own conclusions because survival is paramount for nations as well as individuals. And if strength only respects strength, then everyone will have to be strong or risk extinction or enslavement by the powerful.
I am saying this because what America and Europe seem to be telling the Palestinians is that as long as you are weak, you will continue to be killed, raped, persecuted and starved to death, otherwise you’ve got to settle for a life of perpetual enslavement by the “chosen people.”
Some states, such as Iran, have already internalized the message, and sooner or later, other states will follow suit.
Is this the ideal world Europe would want to see?