It was originally published at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) and republished here with the author’s consent.
50 European Political Has-Beens against Trump’s Peace Plan
On February 27th, the Guardian published a letter titled “Grave Concern about the US plan to resolve the Israel Palestinian Conflict.” It was signed by 50 European former politicians.1 These included many previous prime and foreign ministers. The signatories called themselves “Europeans dedicated to promoting international law, peace and security worldwide.” If this were truly the case, one would be able to find many letters by them in the media in view of the problematic state of these issues in the world.
Yet as far as can be reasonably checked, these 50 have only signed this one letter recently, an act which qualifies them as hypocrites. In their letter they warn that if the Trump peace plan goes ahead, Israel will be an apartheid state. Many of the signatories can be characterized as veteran anti-Israel inciters. If one applies the most common definition of antisemitism, that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, some even fit that definition and can be labeled antisemites.
The one name which catches the eye immediately among the signatories is Mary Robinson, a former president of Ireland and past United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In 2014, she co-signed an op-ed in the Guardian with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter suggesting that Europe and the U.S. should recognize that Hamas is also a political movement. They did not mention that it is also an organization with genocidal intent.2 This was a showcase of a top human rightist promoting the interests of an organization, which wants to commit mass murder.
A further rapid look at the signatories shows that at least twenty of them are socialists. This reflects their parties’ frequent sizable incitement against Israel and sympathy for the repressive, corrupt, anti-democratic and murderous Palestinian leadership. Those who are anti-Israel often think that having a Jewish supporter helps. The social democrat former Swiss President Ruth Dreyfuss played this role in the letter.
The former Dutch and UN Ambassador Robert Serry, also a Laborite, is the son of a Jewish father, which he discovered only after the latter’s death.3 This, however, is not widely known. In 2014, when he was Special Envoy of the UN for the Middle East Peace Process, Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened to declare Serry persona non-grata when he offered to help transfer Qatari funds to Hamas.4
A second former Swiss President is Micheline Calmy-Rey, also a social democrat. She supported the many years-long Geneva initiative of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. This long-lasting process without any result in which Switzerland attempted to interfere in Israel’s internal affairs took place against the wishes of the Israeli government. The Israeli ‘negotiators” represented nobody. 5
Laborite Bert Koenders is a former Dutch foreign minister. He was active in convincing the EU to specifically label products from the disputed territories. As the EU singled out Israel with this action and did not apply the labeling even to occupied territories elsewhere this was an antisemitic act according to the widely accepted definition of this hatred by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.6 The third Dutch signatory Jozias van Aartsen, a liberal, is a former mayor of The Hague and Amsterdam. A highly unusual petition signed by 17 000 people was sent to parliament asking to fire him as mayor of The Hague. Its initiators claimed that he did not act against anti-Israeli demonstrations in the town even when ISIS flags were shown.7
One German signatory is Sigmund Gabriel. He is the former leader of his country’s socialist party, Germany’s ex-foreign minister and a veteran anti-Israel inciter who falsely calls himself a ‘friend of Israel.’8 In 2017 Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who then was also foreign minister, refused to meet with Gabriel. Netanyahu stated: “My policy is not to meet diplomats who visit Israel and meet orgs that slander IDF soldiers and seek to put them on trial as war criminals.”9
There are also four members of the British Labour Party among the signatories: Douglas Alexander, Ben Bradshaw, Jack Straw and Garreth Thomas. One did not hear from them much or anything at all when their party became institutionally antisemitic under Jeremy Corbyn’s chairmanship.
Another person to take note of is the Belgian socialist Willy Claes. He had to leave the position of NATO secretary general due to his involvement in a Belgian corruption scandal, for which he was later condemned and lost his right to vote or to be elected.10 The sole Finnish signatory, Erkki Tuomioja, a former socialist minister of foreign affairs of his country, has in the past compared Israeli defensive measures to the Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany saying: “It is quite shocking that some implement the same kind of policy toward the Palestinians which they themselves were victims of the 1930’s.”11
As to some of the Scandinavian signatories: In October 2001, Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi was assassinated by Palestinian terrorists. Danish Foreign Minister Mogens Lykketoft, who later would become the leader of the Danish Socialist Party, said on television that there was no difference between this assassination and Israel’s targeted killing of terrorists.12 Another former Danish foreign minister Martin Lidegaard said in 2014 that if the indirect talks between Israel and Hamas set to start Tuesday in Cairo would not yield significant Israel concessions the EU should take tougher steps against Israel.13 A third former Danish foreign minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen has compared Israel to Apartheid South Africa in an article written jointly with Lykketoft and another author.14
During a visit to Israel in 2013 then Norwegian foreign minister Espen Barth Eide, a Labourite, had to admit that part of his country’s aid money was used by the Palestinian Authority to pay the salaries of convicted Palestinian terrorists serving time in Israeli jails.15 Former Swedish social democrat foreign minister Jan Eliasson16 took part in a hate demonstration against Israel in Stockholm in 2009. Hizballah and Hamas flags were flown there and an Israeli flag was burned.17
There have been three somewhat similar letters in the past signed by a variety of mainly European former politicians. The first one was published in April 2013. The signatories self-defined as the “European Eminent Persons Group on the Middle East Peace Process.”
This letter’s content was skillfully dismantled by Elliott Abrams who has served in senior positions under various U.S. presidents. He is currently the Special Representative for Venezuela at the Department of State. Abrams concluded that the letter was important in one way: “It shows that European official and elite thinking continue to blame Israel for everything related to the so-called peace process.” Abrams suggested that the signatories whom he called the “formerly eminent persons” have been seeking to avoid the truth that Mahmoud Abbas refused an extremely generous offer from then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He also mentioned that the statement in the letter about the failure of the parties to negotiate in the last four years was false.
Abrams furthermore stated that the signatories did not demand anything from the Palestinians, and it treated them like objects rather than people. He added “Nowhere does the letter mention the issue of antisemitic broadcasting and hate speech in Palestinian official media, nor the matter of the glorification of terrorism and terrorists by the PA, and the impact such conduct has on prospects for peace.”18
A second letter from the same self-appointed European “eminent persons” group was published in May 2015. Some signatories of the previous letters are also recidivists in the current letter in the Guardian. One of them, former French socialist Foreign Minister Herbert Védrine, is remembered by many French Jews because he seemed to show understanding for the multiple antisemitic attacks by Muslims in France at the beginning of this century. He said that “One does not necessarily have to be shocked that young Frenchmen of immigrant origin have compassion for the Palestinians and are very excited because of what is happening.”19
In April 2019 there was another open letter with many of the usual signatories under a new heading: “high-ranking former European Union officials.” It urged Europe “to reject a United States Middle East plan in the case that it promotes unequal rights between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.”20
If there is somewhere a virtual pillory for immoral members of the elite the names of these fifty political has-beens should be affixed to it.
3 nd.nl/nieuws/buitenland/robert-serry-ambassadeur-onmogelijke-zaken.3044506.lynkx 4/5
10 www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws-achtergrond/hof-ontneemt-willy-claes-burgerrechten~b72e4dba/; www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/gbvfbmbc
11 Efraim Karsh, “European Misreading of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Finnish Foreign Minister Tuomioja – A Case Study,” Jerusalem Issue Brief, 27, July 12, 2005
12 Herb Keinon, “Danish FM: Ze’evi Murder Same as Targeted Killings,” Jerusalem Post, October 19, 2001.
16 Per Gudmundson, “Rödflaggat,” Gudmundson, 13 January 2009, http://gudmundson.blogspot.com/.
17 Israelska flaggan brändes,” Dagens Nyheter, 10 January 2009.