We must not treat lightly the European Union decision to prohibit cooperation with those residing, operating or trading in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem, but we should not be overly alarmed either. Why did the wrath of this directive strike us on Tuesday, Tisha B’av, when the decision was made at the end of June? Perhaps this is Haaretz’s way of marking the destruction of our diplomatic efforts?
Indeed, the withdrawal lovers among us have an interest in getting the public worked up over this decision. They hope to frighten policy makers in this way into taking dangerous steps. Economically, Europe has not closed its doors. Haaretz failed to mention that the Golan Heights is included in the boycott “package.” Incidentally, the directive differentiates between the private sector (not boycotted) and the public sector (boycotted). Economic interests are stronger than any bureaucrat’s decision. We’ll muddle through just as we have until now.
The importance of this decision is mostly declarative. The European and Israeli left will try to use it as a political tool to coerce their latest insane solution. This is nothing new. As always, the ball is in our court.
This is the test of our nationalist Likud-led government. For the most part, those making the decisions against us are mid-level bureaucrats and below. These decisions can be reversed through direct talks with heads of state if we are determined enough. Europe’s hypocrisy also has a pragmatic component. If the world understands that this is what Israel wants, we will get it once the smoke clears. That’s why we certainly must not capitulate, freeze construction or prohibit Jews from ascending the Temple Mount on Tisha B’av. The leading jurists in Israel and the world have determined that Israel’s presence in east Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria is not illegal.
“According to international law, Israelis have a legal right to settle in all of Judea and Samaria, and at the very least in the areas under Israeli control by force of agreements with the Palestinian Authority, and therefore building settlements in itself is not illegal,” former Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy wrote in the Levy report.
He wrote that “from the point of view of international law, the laws of ‘occupation’ do not apply in the unique historical and legal circumstances of the decades-long Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria.”
The EU decision could not have been reported on a more appropriate date. The destruction of our country and the Temple on Tisha B’av is the fault line of our relationship with the nations of the world. Assyria, Babylonia and Rome — each in turn — conquered us and denied us sovereignty over our land. Now Europe is trying to meddle in the Jewish people’s efforts to return home. Home, above all, is Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. That is where we became a nation, established a kingdom and developed morality, justice and rules of governance. It is from here that we gave the world the book of books.
History teaches that when the nations of Europe were willing to accept us in their midst, we contributed to science, law, governance and letters. The gratitude we received was written in blood. Our ancestors added the expulsion from Spain to the list of painful memories we commemorate on Tisha B’av.
In the 20th century we were finally evicted from Europe. Millions of our people were murdered with the generous help of European nations. Jews left and Muslims arrived. Europe cannot cope with the creeping Muslim conquest of their continent.
“Europe is disappearing,” I was told two and half years ago by the renowned Middle East historian Bernard Lewis. “Europe has stopped existing in any meaningful way or fulfilling a role, due to immigration and demographics,” he said. The cruel irony is that the EU’s only meaningful role is to lull the West into complacency in the face of the danger threatening its future. It is no accident that it was reported on Tuesday for the umpteenth time that the EU does not have a majority for placing Hezbollah on the terror organization list.
Arab nationalism, which European colonialism imposed on Middle Eastern tribes and ethnic groups, is falling apart as we speak, and the region is reverting to its natural primordial state. But Europe feels an urgent need to mortgage our future for the sake of its short-term interests. This is what it did to Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II. This is what Britain did when it denied access to mandatory Palestine to masses of Jews who sought refuge in their ancient homeland, out of a cost-benefit analysis vis-à-vis the Arab world.
Some people say Israel needs to wake up and face the music. But it is not Israel that is in denial. It is Europe that is running away from accepting the historical fact that Jews have returned to Zion. To our disgrace, this kind of attitude is being encouraged by some among us. The European attempt to force a “solution” on us resembles attempts to enforce “peace now” on the region. This does not encourage peace, it merely brings the next war closer.