For nearly two millennia, the European continent has been a land of persecution and hatred for the Jewish people. The blood libels and the vilest accusations against the Jews have been accompanied by violence, pogroms, and confinement in ghettos and of course death camps. Eight decades ago, in the 1930's, anti-Semitism was considered honorable and aroused few objections. Later, the Nazi machine set into motion the "final solution," and zealous collaborators existed in virtually all of continental Europe. "Willing executioners" were not only Germans -- far from it.
After 1945, anti-Semitism suddenly became unmentionable, and European anti-Semites had to be silent. But they did not disappear. In the 1960s, after the Six Day War, a new way of being anti-Semitic emerged that allowed them to recycle their old way: they could not be "anti-Semites", but they could be "anti-Israelis". They rejoiced when General de Gaulle in France spoke of the Jews as a "proud and domineering people," and saw those words as a kind of official sanction, a green light. Since then, "anti-Israelism" rapidly became mainstream. European politicians, diplomats and journalists have done their best never to miss an opportunity to berate and criticize Israel. Anti-Semitic terms used in the 1930s began to be used again, this time to describe the Jewish State.
When the "Palestinian cause" appeared, it immediately became a sacred cause in Europe, never mind what sort of values or governance it espoused. When it seemed possible to accuse Jews of "behaving like Nazis," the opportunity was not missed.
Today, hatred of Israel is one of the most shared and prominent feelings in Europe. Using anti-Semitic terms to criticize Israel is common, normal and "politically correct." Fighting for the "Palestinian cause" in the name of "peace" is the only fight that can bring together politicians from the left and the right. Any terrorist attack against Israel is almost unanimously described as a fruit of the "cycle of violence" and of "Israeli intransigence," never mind that it is actually the Palestinians who historically have been intransigent. An Israeli response to a terrorist attack is immediately criticized by European diplomats as "disproportionate." A Palestinian attack is never criticized at all.
When anti-Israeli groups rally to boycott Israel and violently invade stores selling Israeli products, the only condemnations to be heard are from Jewish organizations.
It is in this context that the recent EU decision to ban its members from dealing with Jewish communities and with any Jew living beyond "1967 borders" must be viewed.
European leaders who took the decision, and those who approved it, know perfectly well that there has never been a "1967 border," only armistice lines drawn in 1949, but they act as if they did not know. European leaders know perfectly well how indefensible the "1967 borders" are for the Israeli army, but again they act as if they did not know.
European leaders also know that the "1967 borders" place the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall and the Temple Mount (the holiest site of Judaism) outside the boundaries of Israel. They know, too, what the loss of these would mean for Israel and the Jewish people, but they stand their ground. They know, as well, that their position is similar to that of the Palestinian Authority, which seeks ethnic cleansing of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, but self-righteously insist. They know that the Golan Heights, under Israeli law and administration since 1981, was used for years by Syria to shoot down from the plateau at the farmers in the valley, and are fully aware of the situation in Syria and its al-Qaeda affiliates near the Golan Heights today, but nonetheless stand fast.
For more than four decades, several European countries, and the European Union itself, have established close and compromising relationships with various regimes in the Arab world. They have become prisoners of what is called Europe's "Arab Policy" -- with full support for the "Palestinian cause" and "anti-Israeli" activities and movements, regardless of how thoroughly detrimental these might be to their own survival -- as so presented by Bat Ye'or in her prophetic book, Eurabia, published in 2005.
European leaders who voted for the ban and those who approved it also stand their ground in part because migration flows have changed the demographics of Europe, and because in Europe the number of Muslims -- a significant proportion of whom have become radicalized -- has sharply increased. Europe today is therefore not only a prisoner of Europe's "Arab Policy," support for the "Palestinian cause" and "anti-Israeli" activities and movements: it is also hostage to its Muslim population, to Islamists, and to the immense success of the campaign of intimidation waged against it by Muslims, such that any incident, or any political position unpleasant to Muslims, can lead to riots.
When Israel's leaders appeal to Europe's "moral values," they should realize that when the subject is Jews, almost all Europeans abandoned moral values seven decades ago, and the same may be said for their views of Israel. If moral values are what the Israelis and Jews are looking for in Europe, they are looking in the wrong place.
Europe has once again chosen cowardice and complicity.
European governments and the European Union are the biggest donors of financial assistance to the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian Authority. They are also the biggest donors to most anti-Israel movements operating in Europe and in Israel. They in fact funded BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movements long before they took the decision that now makes BDS official.
The Israeli government has warned European governments and the European Union that this may trigger a "serious relationship crisis between Europe and Israel;" in reality the crisis has been ongoing for a long time.
On July 26, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon ordered the Coordinator of Government Activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza to turn down any request by the European Union concerning these regions.
In an article published July 27 in the Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick suggested further Israeli responses to the European decision: "passage in the Knesset of a law requiring all Israeli entities that agree to operate under the EU's funding guidelines to register as foreign agents and report all EU contributions." "Those contributions," she added,"should be taxed at the highest corporate tax rate."
As "Area C" is the area of Judea and Samaria where Israel exercises most civil and military authorities, Glick writes that Israel should "suspend all EU projects in Area C. Future EU projects should be subject to intense scrutiny by the civil administration. Israel's default position should be to reject, rather than approve such requests, given their hostile intent."
Israel's leaders surely see that European governments and the EU are not friends of Israel.
European governments and the EU have never been friends of Israel. Now, they are less friends of Israel than ever. The likelihood that they will adopt a more positive attitude toward Israel is nil.
They speak as enemies of Israel. They behave as enemies of Israel. They take decisions only enemies of Israel would take.
They are at war with Israel. They do not wage war directly: they engage battle through other channels, hypocritically, viciously, and cowardly.
In the 1940s, Europe was the continent of Auschwitz. Today, Europe is a continent where politicians and technocrats support what Abba Eban called the "Auschwitz borders". There is no doubt they hope for results similar to those obtained in Auschwitz, just by other means.