There was not much sympathy for Israel in the comments made by senior European leaders after the nuclear deal with Iran announced on Tuesday. German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier was quick to point out that ”the Israeli Government should at least read the agreement before they start criticising it.” He is not alone. Back in 2003 an EU survey came to the bitter conclusion that ”Israel is the main obstacle to world peace.”
European irritation with Israel is obvious again now.
The argument is simple: the nuclear race has been stopped and diplomacy has finally won. So the Israeli Prime Minister is against the agreement. Big deal?
The lack of understanding for the concerns expressed by the Israeli Government is remarkable, given that what we know as the European Union is often said to have been built out of the ashes of the Holocaust.
Each year on January 27th, Holocaust Remembrance Day, senior political leaders across Europe express their commitment to stand with the Jewish people in Europe when they are under threat. ‘There can be no Europe without Jews’, the EU Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini, stated in January after the terrorist attack in Paris where five Jews were killed in cold blood.
But what about Jews (and Arabs) in Israel? One word which is often missing in the contemporary European Holocaust narrative is the word ”Israel”. EU leaders deplore the terrorist attacks in Toulouse, Brussels, Paris and Copenhagen but are mostly silent when terror strikes in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Netanya. When I introduced myself to a senior EU official on Holocaust Remembrance Day earlier this year by saying that I am the founder of the European Coalition for Israel, his reply was as shocking as it is typical for some members of the European ruling class: ‘And what does Israel have to do with any of this?’
Today many intellectuals are eager to differentiate between their support for the Jewish people in Europe on the one hand, and (their lack of concern for) the Jewish State of Israel on the other. Some even seem to indicate that the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe has something to do with the policies of the current (or previous) Israeli government. Others, thank God still only a small minority, simply blame any expression of anti-Semitism on the mere existence of the Zionist entity.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Zionism — the national struggle for self-determination for the Jewish people — came about specifically because of anti-Semitism and not the other way around. Therefore, when world leaders fail to stand up for the Jewish state, they also fail in the battle against anti-Semitism. And let there be no mistake — there is no greater enemy to Israel and the Jewish people than the Islamic State of Iran.
This is why the muted reactions to Israeli concerns on the nuclear deal are so remarkable. It is obviously too early to analyse the 159-page agreement in great detail, but on the other hand, you do not need to be a rocket scientist to note the following:
- The Iranian leaders who are seen smiling alongside Federica Mogherini and John Kerry at the nuclear summit in Vienna represent a government that has vowed to wipe Israel off the world map — and this is non-negotiable. It remains a mystery that a UN member state that is openly committed to the destruction of another UN member state, is even allowed to be part of the international community, let alone be entrusted with a ”peaceful” nuclear programme. The same regime that is denying the Holocaust is now dreaming of repeating it — this time with a nuclear bomb.
- Iran is not only persecuting its own people and violating their fundamental freedom and human rights, but is also the main sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East and around the world. Just a few days before the nuclear agreement was signed in Vienna, crowds were shouting ”Death to Israel” and ”Death to America” in the streets of Tehran. Let there be no mistake: in Tehran, no crowd is free to shout anything if it does not have the support of the government. If we trust Iran to cooperate with the nuclear programme inspectors, we may as well believe them when they say ”death to the Jews”.
If any continent should be concerned with a nuclear Iran, it should be Europe. However, this does not seem to be the case. Is it merely a coincidence or is it perhaps a coordinated policy, that at the same time as the European Union is about to lift its sanctions against the Islamic State of Iran, it is preparing new measures to sanction Israeli goods produced in the disputed territories?
It will probably not be long before Iranian-sponsored terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, are taken off the EU blacklist of terrorist organisations as long as they promise not to target European and American security interests.
Europe should know better. We have trodden the slippery slope of appeasement before. The failure cost 6 million Jewish lives. But it did not stop there. Before the war against Hitler was over, 60 million lives were lost. The lesson is as simple as it is brutal. When a dictator openly states his goal to eliminate a people or a nation state, he will do everything in his power to achieve that goal. And to answer my friend, the senior EU official with whom I spoke on Holocaust Remembrance Day — it has everything to do with Israel.