The EU investigates Israeli domestic issues: The politics of soft colonialism

A guest post by AKUS

A recent article in Ha’aretz reveals that some members of the European Union have been working on a secret document dealing with a “core issue” in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The article is headlined:  Secret EU paper aims to tackle Israel’s treatment of Arab minority

According to Ha’aretz:

The European Union should consider Israel’s treatment of its Arab population a “core issue, not second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” according to a classified working paper produced by European embassies in Israel, parts of which were obtained by Haaretz.

Forget the Europeans’ problems with their Roma population, their Muslim minority, the abject failure of multiculturalism, the rise of anti-Semitism and, last, but not least, the possible collapse of the whole European Union and the dissolution of a common currency (or vice versa).

In fact, forget the way Israel’s neighbors are treating their ‘minorities’, from Turkey’s cultural genocide against the Kurds, to the continuing murder and oppression of Copts in Egypt, to the total segregation of Palestinians in Lebanon, to the wholesale massacres happening in Syria as you read. Focus on how Israel “treats its Arab population” – a phrase expressing owner ship of a population redolent of a past colonial era that ignores the full rights enjoyed by all Israeli citizens, of any ethnicity or religion.

Apparently initiated by Britain (who else? Do we detect the Foreign Office camel corps poking its long nose into this tent?), the document is said to have originally proposed unstated punitive measures against Israel. 

There remain a few sane voices from countries that have not yet decided to inhabit a parallel universe where the world’s greatest problems revolve around Israel:

At some point, however, several countries, among them the Czech Republic, Poland and the Netherlands, expressed objections to its contents.

After lengthy debates on the issue in an effort to obtain the consensus necessary to send the report to Brussels, it was decided to water it down somewhat and drop the operative conclusions. It was also designated a “food for thought” document, rather than a “report.”

The really extraordinary example of proposed meddling in Israel’s internal affairs, as reported, was this:

The document suggests that the EU discuss Jewish-Arab relations with the Israeli government, while stressing the government’s obligation to bridge the gaps between the Jewish majority and Arab minority.

“We should emphasize that addressing inequality within Israel is integral to Israel’s long-term stability,” the document says.

One might be excused for being a little cynical about the motivations behind this declaration of concern for Israel’s long-term stability from this group.  Alternatively, one wonders how a document drafted by, shall we say, the US and Israel, expressing concern for the way Europe treats its minorities and the effect on its long-term stability, would be received in Brussels, Paris or Berlin. Or London.

The document most shockingly but not altogether unsurprisingly reveals the European’s reverse thinking and ignorance about the status and effects of the “peace process”.

Neo-Palestinian Israeli Arab politicians like Zouabi who sits in the Knesset (how is that for discrimination and ill-treatment of a minority?!) and a few local leaders like Sheikh Raed Salah have made it their daily business to inflame relations between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel by insisting that the loyalties of Arab Israelis should lie with a future Palestinian state, rather than the State of Israel. 

By ignoring the Palestinian refusal to return to negotiations and the inflammatory activities of neo-Palestinian Arab politicians in Israel the document’s authors blame Israel rather than the Palestinians and their incitement of the Israeli Arab population for deteriorating relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel:

“The stalemate in the peace process, and the continuing occupation, inevitably has an impact on the identification of Israeli Arabs with Israel,” the document states. “It will be more difficult for Israeli Arabs to be wholly at ease with their identity while the conflict with the Palestinians continues.”

Don’t the Europeans have it backwards? Shouldn’t the Palestinians be concerned about the impact of the peace process on Israeli Arabs and their ability to be at ease with their Israeli identity?

The reality is, as any rational person can observe, that the Palestinian leaders are quite pleased with the discord they are sowing between communities in Israel. They labor under a false assumption that this somehow advances their cause. Of course, the truth is quite the opposite. The greater the friction between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel, the more cautious Israel will be about any concessions at all to the Arabs on the West Bank. If the two communities in Israel can coexist peacefully there will more willingness to try the experiment of coexistence with a neighboring Palestinian state.

Thus there is a way the Europeans can help if their concern is genuine.

They should suggest to the Palestinian leadership, if they can actually identify the true leaders given the battles between the PA and Hamas, that they reduce tensions between Israeli Arabs and Jews by restarting negotiations and asking their Israeli supporters to tone down the anti-Israeli rhetoric. The stronger and more cohesive Israeli society feels itself to be, and more the Jews and Arabs inside Israel can trust each other, the greater the likelihood of an agreement being reached.

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