EU Really?

Okay, I get the bit about wanting to put pressure on Israel to negotiate with the PA. Indeed, you are getting tired of Israel’s foot dragging as it appears to be laying the groundwork for further West Bank expansion. I am on board with this concern. Negotiations will eventually require a redistribution of territory and the more Israel builds, presumably the more they will have to tear down. Understandably, the building irks not only the Palestinians, but also those of us Zionists who really appreciate that a 2-State for two people is the only solution that has a reasonable chance of long-term success.

However, assuming that your interest is in achieving a lasting Middle Eastern peace, how can you possibly even consider the return of the Golan Heights as a useful and appropriate strategy? While you sit around trying to sort out how to help the Syrian populace in its fight against an oppressive Assad regime, you think hey, here is a good idea, let’s reward Assad by pressing Israel to return the Golan, that will teach him a lesson. As Assad demonstrates his brutality on his OWN people, killing perhaps well over 70,000 of them, you think, if Israel would return the Golan, we are sure that Assad would act neighborly toward Israel , and not take advantage of his new strategic position. When Assad pulls out those chemical weapons to kill numbers of Syrians, you think, there is no way that such a person might introduce such weaponry in a conflict with Israel once he has possession of the high point in the region. Finally, you have to be thinking that Assad would never reward Hezbollah for its efforts in defending his minority regime, by allowing them to position in the Golan region, providing them with a more comfortable and direct shot at Israeli targets. On what planet does Syria and probably Hezbollah having the Golan Heights further peace in this region?

Speaking of Hezbollah, while you apparently have no problem setting Israel straight by offering potential punishment for its misbehaviors, you just cannot quite pull the trigger when it comes to Hezbollah. Let’s see, you discover evidence that Hezbollah has attacked and planned attacks on Jewish and non-Jewish citizens at locations in Asia, Europe, South America. You are aware that they have probably at least participated in attacks within their own country to eliminate popular political opposition. You know of course that they have called for the physical elimination of a UN country, Israel. Finally, you are somewhat bothered by their ferocious military combat against the citizens of Syria in support of an unpopular minority military dictatorship. (By the way some of their attacks have taken place in Palestinian refugee camps).Yet, somehow, in your minds, none of this qualifies them as a terrorist organization or even warrants a negative response directed specifically at them.

If the EU really wishes to be a credible contributor to Middle East peace, you will have to do much better. My sense is that Israel’s ability to sacrifice for peace, once negotiations get underway, will only be compromised by EU stances that are bold when it comes to her (Israel), but timid when it comes to its adversaries. Israel should take risks for a viable 2-State solution, but the signals coming from the EU leave it feeling misunderstood. One of the best ways to achieve a resolution begins with each side believing that its narrative and claims are understood. (Ultimately, they will have to accept that being understood does not mean that negotiations will get you all you want, but you at least have to feel that your claims are understood). Israel has to accept the Palestinian narrative, and likewise the Palestinians must convey a similar appreciation of Israel’s. Importantly, each side also has to believe that their existential concerns are appreciated not only by the partners with whom they are in conflict, but also by those encouraging a settlement. Taking a stance that ignores Hezbollah’s terrorist activity, its intimate connection to the Assad government, and the consequences that such a relationship could have if Israel were to give up the Golan, creates a sense that the EU is either extraordinarily naïve, or uninterested in Israel’s genuine security concerns. Failing to condemn Hezbollah as a terrorist organization suggests that the EU is timid. It suggests to an average peace-seeking Israeli (by the way over 70% support a 2-State solution) that your actions are less about peace and more about expediency and fears. There is no room for such motives in Middle East peace-making, if we hope to create a lasting peace.

About the Author
Seth Greenberg has a PhD in experimental psychology and human cognition. He held two Endowed Chairs at private institutions in the United States, and held a position of Visiting Scholar at Haifa University. He has published about fifty articles and chapters in several books including a chapter in a book on academic perspective on Genesis. He's also received about 1 million dollars worth of grants and lives in Jerusalem with his wife. He has three married daughters, one of whom lives in Israel.