Memo to Europe; Israeli occupation won’t end with a few harsh words

Amira Hass in Haaretz:

Compared to the value of the security technology Israel sells overseas, the value of European imports from the settlements are mere pocket money. Israel’s economy won’t be hurt even if European governments adopt the measures proposed by a group of nongovernmental organizations in order to shrink trade with the settlements and reduce the contradiction between European pronouncements (“the settlements are illegal” ) and imported dates from the Jordan Valley. Israeli governments will continue to compensate settlers for any “political” damage, and the Israeli people will continue to show no interest in yet another report written by the goyim.

The report, entitled “Trading away peace: How Europe helps sustain the illegal Israeli settlements,” was published yesterday by 22 aid, development and human rights organizations. It explains the reciprocal connection between the strangulation of the Palestinian economy under Israeli rule and the growth and well-being of the settlements. This need not upset the European consumer. Cheap clothing and computers from China and India entail no less exploitation – yet another reason for the Jewish Israeli citizen to feel good about himself as part of the world’s winning wing.

The flip side of every bunch of Jewish grapes from the Jordan Valley sold in Europe is an impoverished Palestinian family, because Israel has expropriated most of its land and also deprives it of water. That’s insufficient in a world rife with injustice? The report says something else to Europeans: Never mind the exploitation, but consider the absurdity!

As consumers, we Europeans pay for the grapes, and as taxpayers, we compensate the Palestinians for the water Israel steals to irrigate those same grapes. Europe is spending billions of euros for the sake of the Palestinian state-to-be, thereby essentially absolving Israel of the consequences of its economic strangulation policy. Perhaps this absurdity is easier to understand in today’s European Union, where one member state, Greece, has bowed to the pressure of its creditors and is denying public medical care to the unemployed.

As usual, a “former” official was found to say what those still in office fear to say, even in private. Hans van den Broek, a former EU commissioner for external relations, writes in the foreword to the report: “We Europeans have failed to move from words to action. So far, we have refrained from deploying our considerable political and economic leverage vis a vis Israel to contain developments on the ground that contradict our basic values and that undermine our strategic interests.” In other words, unlike many others, he thinks Europe can adopt an independent stance even if the United States continues to support the process of establishing Palestinian reservations.

From his mouth to God’s ears. But will reducing imports from the settlements be enough to make it clear to us Israelis that the regime we are supporting isn’t sustainable?

Here is an absurdity that Van den Broek and the report’s authors are forced to ignore (lest they be labeled anti-Semites ): It’s not just the settlers; the vast majority of Israelis support the concept of reservations for the Palestinians, whether actively (by voting ) or passively, by not resisting. They support it, and they benefit from it.

We’re hungry for normalcy, but it’s achieved by systematically undermining the dignity of the individual and the dignity of another people. We’ve reached the stage at which much more than labeling produce from the settlements will be needed to make us understand that military superiority isn’t a permanent guarantee of our existence in a region where we are a minority, but act like the lord and master.

So what next, after labeling? The European Union could, for instance, repeal the upgrade in trade relations with Israel. Or institute tourism equality: European states could demand that Israelis – and not only Palestinians – apply for entry visas, waste time at consulates and wait weeks (with the possibility of being turned down ). Only then might something, perhaps, begin to shake the artificial normality in which we live – before bloodshed does.

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