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The Wiesenthal Centre calls for clarification: Are the ECFR recommendations the policy of the EU?”

Paris, 28 November 2016

In a letter to European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, addressed the highest official of the European Union, “to clarify the relationship of the EU bodies with the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).”

Samuels noted that: “This apparently well-endowed ‘think-tank’ – with offices in Berlin, Brussels, London, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Sofia and Warsaw – presents what seems a new and cynical element in the arsenal against the State of Israel: ‘differentiation’.”

He continued: “In laymen’s terms, ‘differentiation’ is jargon for a distinction in treatment between Jews residing within the 1948-1967 cease-fire lines, and Jews resident beyond those lines.”

The letter recalled that, “these lines in situ marked the end of a war of aggression in 1948, resulting in Jordanian and Egyptian occupation of lands granted by the UN for a Palestinian State. Another Arab war of aggression in 1967 resulted in their replacement by an Israeli administration and the return of Jews to places from which they were vehemently expelled in 1948, especially in the Old City of Jerusalem and its suburbs.”

Samuels stressed that: “At no point were the ceasefire lines internationally recognized as borders. Despite Jewish acceptance of partition, ‘Palestine’ was aborted by Arab rejection of Jewish sovereignty, whether within the ceasefire lines or beyond. Even today, Palestinian theft of Jewish heritage, for example, through UNESCO, and refusal to recognize any Jewish sovereignty, is relentlessly zero-sum in dashing hopes for a two-state solution.”

“Into the mix comes the ECFR with an ostensible pretense of balance – ‘differentiation’ – which arguably would result in a para-BDS campaign to further harm and delegitimize the Jewish State…” observed the Centre. The letter highlighted a paragraph disturbing to its constituency: “Introducing fewer incentives and more disincentives into its dealings with Israel is likely to prove the more ‘effective formula’.”

And in particular, registered its “greatest concern at the following language:

‘Policy recommendations: Resist Israel’s settlement creep’ [This phraseology contributes to the demonization of the Jewish State]

‘In July 2016, anxiety over the possible expansion of differentiation in the sphere of EU-Israeli financial relations led the Tel Aviv banking index to drop by 2.46 points.’ [Is this not BDS?]

‘Whereas the BDS seeks to isolate Israel diplomatically, economically and culturally, differentiation targets only the settlements and their roots and not the State of Israel within its internationally recognized borders.’

[It would be interesting to decipher the reference to ‘their roots’ and the ECFR’s intriguing acknowledgement of what are ceasefire lines as ‘internationally recognized borders’!] ‘…there is a danger that an inconclusive outcome to France’s current effort to relaunch negotiations…’ [Efforts, incidentally, launched while Paris had announced the exclusion of Israel – remarkably redolent of the 1938 Munich Agreement to sacrifice Czechoslovakia.]”

Continuing, “The report’s recommendations include:

‘Counter Israeli allegations of antisemitism’… ‘…not pushing back… would suggest that Europeans think Israeli politicians have a point when they talk of anti-Jewishness, yellow stars and the darkest days of European history when referencing EU action.’ [This is, indeed, the perception of our members.]

‘Israel is fighting EU differentiation in Washington D.C., in particular through the US Congress…’ [A conspiracy?]

‘President Barack Obama’s comments in Jerusalem in March 2013 that ‘given frustration in the international community about this conflict, Israel needs to reverse an undertow of isolation,’ could also be interpreted as a nod to Europe and other actors not hamstrung by US politics to introduce greater disincentives.’ [Conspiracy?]”

Samuels suggested that, “when uniformed squads of BDS hooligans attack French supermarkets, filling their trolleys from the kosher/Israel product shelves, rushing past terrified customers to burn their loot outside, French Jews may be forgiven for recalling the ‘Kauft Nicht bei Juden!’ order (‘Do not buy from Jews!’) of Nazi Germany.”

The Centre viewed “the language of the ECFR Report to be deeply disturbing in nuance and euphemism and potentially emboldens hatemongers against their target, whether in the Jewish State or the Diaspora.”

“We urge you, Mr. President, to condemn such content and advise whether ‘differentiation’ – as presented by ECFR – is the policy of the European Union.” concluded Samuels.

Read the full ECFR report on: