Hardly a week goes by in the European Parliament without a group of members (MEPs) organising another, taxpayer-funded, Israel bashing event. The evidence is clear to any visitor by viewing the poster boards at the entrance and scattered around the building, advertising MEP sponsored events on issues such as Palestinian unity, boycotting Israeli goods and the like.
The EU lives by the old saying of “Don’t do as I do, but do as I say”, specifically when considering the episode shortly after my own election in 2014. The European Parliament was voting on recognition of a ‘Palestinian state’, yet when, just before the vote, I rose to highlight the European Commission’s reply to my own written question, which clearly stated that the EU has no competency whatsoever to recognise new countries (only nation states have that privilege), I was widely booed and shouted down by a chorus of very angry MEPs from across the house, before the president ignored my protest and proceeded with the vote, regardless of the EU’s own legal ability.
The EU professes to support a lasting Middle East peace settlement, yet I’ve highlighted both EU funding of the PLO, which pays salaries to murderers, as well as how EU funding of illegal Palestinian buildings in Area C, is in breach of the Oslo accords, thus acting as an obstacle to peace and expunging any pretence of the EU being an honest broker.
At the same time that EU member states are putting up walls against friendly nations, without irony, the EU expresses concerns about Israel’s security barrier, which has saved hundreds of lives: Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish, Muslim and Christian.
And then, we hear little about the latest “European values study” finding that eastern European countries are significantly more hostile to Jews, or the joint threat we bear from radical Islam. Have they learnt nothing from centuries of European anti-Semitism, culminating in the Shoah, or indeed, their own despicable treatment of Holocaust survivors returning home after the Second World War? It appears not.
The sad truth is that it’s hard to escape the conclusion – as we have recently seen with Labour’s anti-Semitism scandal — that the new, thinly-disguised face of European anti-Semitism needs to be called out for what it is. Where are the angry voices, motions, demonstrations, and sanction calls against occupied Northern Cyprus (which the EU is seeking to recognise and adopt into the union), or the myriad of repressive regimes on our doorstep?
But the irony doesn’t end there. Indeed, far from it. We often hear extolled both the European Union’s and European Parliament’s democratic virtues and values, of how they profess to best represent the interests of its 28 member states. Yet it’s the very same institutions that continue chastising Israel (and de facto, Judaism), that are blinkered by their own preformed opinions, from acknowledging that the best example of a functioning Middle Eastern democracy is Israel itself.
Rather than sympathising with Israel’s opponents and neighbours, I’d suggest the protagonists would be better off spending their time realising that Israel is the example which they should aspire to be, not the enemy they seek to destroy.
Britain and Israel are, and always have been, natural partners and allies, and a European foreign minister with a collective foreign policy, as laid out in the Lisbon treaty, means the EU dragging our own, special relationship, in completely the wrong direction.
As a truly free and independent country, the UK can properly return to further strengthening our trade, security and cultural ties, unhindered. As my many Jewish friends would say: “Please God by me”.
James Carver is UKIP’s Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands, He sits on the EP Foreign Affairs committee. He is UKIP’s Commonwealth spokesman and Friends of Israel in UKIP Patron. Follow him on Twitter: @JamesJimCarver