July 16, 2013
Europe has not been a friendly place for Jews since time immemorial. So, it shouldn't come as a great surprise that the European Union has promulgated a new policy directive that bars all cooperation -- financial, educational, trade, economic -- with Israeli entities in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. The directive goes even further and demands that, as a condition for any new Israeli-European cooperative agreements, Israel must certify that its sovereignty does not extend beyond the 1949 armistice lines.
In effect, the EU is arrogating to itself the right to define Israel's permanent borders. Among other things, this means that Israel would have to disavow any sovereign rights to the Western Wall and Temple Mount -- Judaism's most sacred sites.
The reaction in Israel has been predictably one of outrage -- from left to right. There are calls for retaliatory Israeli moves to impede EU projects for Palestinians in the West Bank. And there is virtual unanimity that the EU directive is a direct blow to U.S.-brokered efforts to resume Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. After all, if the Palestinians can get ready-made borders to their liking with the EU's assistance, why bother to go to the negotiating table?
Israeli leaders also view the EU's move as totally disconnected from the history of peace moves on the Israeli-Palestinian front. As Energy Minister Silvan Shalom noted, settlements have never been a bar to any breakthroughs. Construction in settlements didn't prevent then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin from leaving Sinai or then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from evacuating Gaza.
To stick it even more to Israel, the EU unfurled its directive on Tisha B'Av -- the date on the Jewish calendar that recalls the destruction of the two Temples and other Jewish misfortunes throughout the ages.
When it comes to Jews and Europe, it's not only perfidious Albion, but also perfidious Europe. On any moral scale, the big loser in this latest episode is not Israel, it's Europe.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers
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