Brussels, April 19 – Fresh on the heels of yet another brutal video clip featuring a mass-execution of “infidels” by Islamic State fighters, sixteen Foreign Ministers of the European Union decided to address the danger by voting to mark products produced in Israeli settlements.
IS militants in Libya conducted two mass executions this week, beheading one group of Ethiopians and Eritreans along the Mediterranean coast and shooting the other. Dozens of victims were killed in the two incidents, which were filmed and distributed to international media. In response, the EU ministers vowed to take measures to protect those threatened by IS barbarism, and determined that the best way to prevent recurrences of mass beheadings in Syria, Iraq, and Libya would be to apply a distinctive label to all products imported into EU nations from areas in the West Bank where Jews live.
“We realized just how precarious existence is for so many people in the shadow of the Islamic State, and elected to make an unequivocal statement in that regard,” said Federica Mogherini, the head of EU foreign policy who presided over the conference of ministers. “We can think of nothing better in our capacity as European leaders than this important measure.”
According to attendees at the event, several ministers argued for an even tougher response to IS brutality, in the form of an outright ban on Israeli products. Ireland and Norway, in particular, pushed for an academic boycott, as well, but in the final result the more moderate motion carried the day.
The ministers also addressed the appalling humanitarian conditions in Syria, by calling on Israel to loosen its restrictions on construction materials and other goods entering the Gaza Strip.
The annual assembly of ministers tackled a number of other important social issues affecting the Union, such as rising antisemitism, which the group decided to address by proposing a mandated minimum of three daily articles in each country’s leading newspapers warning of the dangers of Islamophobia.
The ministers deemed the session a success. “I have not felt such a sense of accomplishment from this sort of event in years,” said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. “It used to be we couldn’t even agree on what day of the week it was. Now we go in there and bang out resolutions like there’s nothing to it.”
Steinmeier said his favorite moment during the proceedings came when Hungary’s representative, Péter Szijjártó, made a big show of answering his phone, which had a ringtone of “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem. “There we were, debating whether or not to call for a boycott of all Israeli products, not just the ones from West Bank settlements, and Péter’s device starts playing the Israeli anthem. It was priceless. He engineered that particular moment of levity, but it was still wonderful – all the more richly ironic because he’s also the Hungarian Minister of Trade.”
Find more of David’s tastelessness at PreOccupied Territory.