This was first published in the Jerusalem Post, and republished here, with footnotes, with the author’s consent.
EU AMBASSADOR MUST UPGRADE VERBAL ACROBATICS
Substantial skills in verbal acrobatics are required from the European Union ambassador to Israel. He has to justify unjustifiable behavior of the organization he represents. One aspect of that is to know how to express facts selectively when publishing articles.
The current ambassador is the Italian diplomat, Emanuele Giaufret. In April 2019, he wrote an article in the Jerusalem Post titled “A brief history of EU – Israel Relations.” 1 In this piece, Giaufret analyzed the depths of the historic, political, economic social and cultural connections between Israel and the EU. He mentioned that these are often overlooked in the discourse. Giaufret added, “Our common future is also sometimes disregarded even as Israel and the EU continue moving toward each other.”
In his description of the depth of historic connections a very specific background issue was missing. Antisemitism is more than a thousand years part of European culture. That, in particular, should have been mentioned because the EU has been so greatly negligent in fighting antisemitism. Almost twenty years after the huge increase in the outbreak of antisemitism, no uniform statistical data on antisemitic incidents in member countries are available.
Concerning political connections between Israel and the EU, Giaufret did not mention that member countries have frequently voted against Israel in the UN Security Council and the General Assembly. No similar votes exist against any other country in anywhere near such numbers. According to the definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), that makes these votes antisemitic acts. The many European countries on that organization’s board supported the establishment of this definition.
Another political connection between the EU and Israel not mentioned is the former labelling of goods from the disputed territories on the West Bank. This is another antisemitic act according to the IHRA definition, as the EU doesn't label goods from a variety of occupied territories around the world.
Occasionally, Giaufret receives a tough reply from an Israeli activist. When there were recently two terrorist attacks in Jerusalem with 13 Israelis wounded, the EU ambassador tweeted that "his thoughts are with the families of the victims, and
added violence is never justified.
Adv. Maurice Hirsch of Palestinian Media Watch reacted: "If violence is never justified, why does the EU help the PA fund it?" He added that the EU gives aid to the PA, turning a blind eye to the Palestinian Authority’s ‘pay for slay’ policy. The PA has admitted that in 2019, it spent 570 million shekels on rewards to terrorist prisoners. 3
Against the background of Europe's extreme hypocrisy toward Israel and its de facto legitimization of the murder-rewarding PA, Giaufret occasionally slips up by meddling in Israeli internal affairs. It became known that Giaufret had spoken to Knesset members saying that the 2018 Nation State Law Bill reeked of racism and could harm the country’s international standing. He apparently also said that it distanced Israel from the accepted norms of democratic countries. Yet several EU members have distanced themselves already for years far from the accepted norms of democratic countries. France and Sweden, for instance, have certain Muslim ghettos where they do not uphold national laws.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, then also Foreign Minister, instructed the ministry to summon Giaufret for a dressing down. 4 The EU mission in Israel wisely did not comment on what the ambassador had done, stating that it doesn't refer to
private conversations. 5
When he initially arrived in Israel, Giaufret said that he would take the Israeli feeling that Brussel is hostile seriously. He promised to combat the organization’s poor reputation by engaging with sectors of all Israeli society, including settlers. 6 He also said then that the EU and Israel might have disagreements concerning the way to deal with the nuclear program in Iran, stating: “We think that the agreement (with Iran)
brings added value….but it is a bit normal to have a disagreement between friends.” 7
Yet when looking at Giaufret's overall performance in Israel, it seems that he has learned from the many blunders of his undiplomatic predecessor, Danish diplomat Lars Faaborg-Andersen. One example will illustrate the latter’s unfounded arrogance. In his departure speech, Faaborg-Andersen said “antisemitism in Europe is a phenomenon we are combating – even more than Israel is.” 8
Recently Giaufret got a new boss. Former socialist Spanish foreign minister, Josep Borrell, was appointed as the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. His party rules Spain in coalition with Europe's most extreme Israel-hating party, Podemos. Its leader, Pablo Iglesias Turrión – nowadays Spain’s second, deputy Prime Minster — called Israel an illegal country in 2018. 9
Borrell said in an interview: "Iran wants to wipe out Israel, nothing new about that, you have to live with it." 10 To understand how barbarian this is one should imagine a Western politician in the late 1930’s saying: “The Germans mistreat and heavily discriminate against the Jews, we have to live with it.” At that time, German policy was not yet aiming for genocide of the Jews. Borrell’s statement is thus far worse in
view of Iran’s intention to destroy Israel.
With such a new boss, an extreme anti-Israel inciter, Ambassador Giaufret will have to greatly upgrade his verbal acrobatics.