I feel betrayed. For me this is not simply about the yellow star that the EU is now placing on products from West Bank “settlements.” It is about so much more. It is about a complete lack of honesty and objectivity. A total and complete sense of betrayal. Perhaps I am naïve. I expected more. I had hoped that we could be accepted as equals across the world and, like equals, be understood to have both success and issues that could be shared and resolved, not labeled.
I know that there had been a low grade rumble of anti-Semitism in Europe even after World War II and the Holocaust. Visiting Europe, in particular, parts of Hungary where some of my family hailed from, taught me to watch my back in some European countries. I thought that, however, may just have been a small piece of the human condition not an indication of a widespread anti-Jewish sentiment hidden just below the surface waiting for a sanctimonious opportunity to manifest in a far grander fashion. An opportunity that the EU has just given its members.
The labeling guidelines adopted by the European Union is not simply hypocrisy, a double standard focused against Jews and Israel, it represents a lack of honesty and integrity. It is akin to the United Nation’s Zionism equals racism resolution of 40 years ago. In that case though, it was the UN, a hot bed for Arab agitation. I did not expect Europe to fall into a blame Israel and the Jews for everything level of malicious thoughtlessness.
Settlement labeling is a step in the direction that the BDS movement, in spite of the denials, has agitated for – the exclusion of Israel from the family of nations. Oh I can hear BDS supporters crying that they do not believe in excluding Israel from the family of nations but is that not exactly what it has come to? When entertainers who wish to perform in Israel are harassed and academics from Israel are shunned and speakers are shouted down because of a fealty to Israel, are these not a clear indication of a movement to isolate an entire country, its people and all who support it?
Product labeling is clearly a blow against the welfare of both the Jews and Palestinian’s who work in these “settlement” industries. It is handing the Palestinian leadership another Gush Katif, Gaza Strip to destroy. All the dynamic industries left in Gaza were dismantled after Israel withdrew. Not one remains in an area that could have been productive but is now desolate. It is a step toward granting a rabid hatred entry into what could have been healthy politics. And, despite the disavowals it is a yellow star that proclaims “Jude”.
Studies of social groups have shown that we all find a group with which we associate mostly because we identify with similar ideas and individuals we are comfortable relating to. Tribalism suggests that we view our tribe as the best and tend toward distancing from those outside of this, our group. We also know that we can find simple effective ways to overcome the hostility between groups or tribes by integrating into one another’s activities, interests and politics. Only radical extremists are incapable of learning to bridge the gap between groups. For radicals on the political spectrum, be they left or right, views are so hardened, obsessive and inflexible that they can find no way beyond their hate filled thinking. For them there is no objective justice only their own view of what is right. If you think I am wrong just look at the biased logic of supporters of the movement to isolate Israel. Their tribe actually asserts that Zionist administrators of the City University of New York are behind tuition raises at City colleges. They howl at a speaker known for his balanced views on the relationship between Israel and her neighbors, for only one reason, to drown out discussion. The list of their agitations is long and growing.
Just 70 years after the most anti-Semitic attacks the world ever endured which originated in Germany and spread throughout Europe here comes the EU and endorses a policy of appeasement that only serves to reinvigorate anti-Israel fervor with at its core blatant, unfettered anti-Semitism.
Europe, we thought you might have been a friend, to be able to help us all find a way as partners to engage in peace. Instead of nudging both parties to engage in dialogue and calling both out when they seem intractable, you have committed an injustice. You have betrayed us.