Few things are more cringeworthy than someone trying to be funny and not succeeding.
Roland Freudenstein, a German political analyst working in Brussels, is a serial offender. He frequently appears in “wacky” videos where he offers a supposedly irreverent commentary on topical matters.
Perhaps some people can detect the humor in these videos. I would rather eat mouldy porridge three times a day than ever watch one again.
It would be comforting if Freudenstein could be dismissed as a failed comic or an obscure pundit. Sadly, he is a man who wields a certain amount of influence and who uses his position to push a pro-Israel agenda.
Freudenstein is one of the leading figures in the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies.
Named after a deceased Belgian prime minister, it is the official think tank for an alliance of right-wing political parties. They include parties comprising or dominating governments in Germany, Greece, Austria and Ireland.
The work of the Martens Centre isn’t glamorous but it does warrant careful scrutiny.
The political alliance to which it is connected is called the European People’s Party. Its member parties are considered – at least by the media – to represent the mainstream in European politics.
The Martens Centre plays an important role in determining what ideas are mainstream and what are not. It has presented cruelty to refugees and giving greater power to profit-driven corporations as reasonable policies.
For his part, Freudenstein has helped to make support for Israel an increasingly mainstream concept.
Regularly seen hanging out with professional pro-Israel lobbyists, Freudenstein tends to rehash their talking points.
In a 2018 article, he argued that any Middle East peace agreement should contain “comprehensive security guarantees” for Israel following “several wars of annihilation waged against it from Palestinian territory.”
That is the kind of lie that Israel and its supporters have got away with for decades.
The truth is that Zionist forces denied Palestinians the right to live in their own homes by expelling them en masse during the 1940s.
Freudenstein has buddied up with advocates of extreme violence.
Richard Kemp was one of the participants in the 2017 seminar.
A former commander of British soldiers invading Afghanistan, Kemp has long supported Israel’s attacks on Palestinians. He has previously recommended that rules ostensibly designed to prevent civilian deaths during military offensives should be relaxed.
The 2017 seminar focused on a report by the High Level Military Group that commended Israel for its assassinations of Palestinian political leaders and fighters.
The report praised the “surgical” nature of such killings and maintained that “every precaution” is taken to avoid civilian deaths. It neglected to point out that so many civilians have been killed during Israel’s assassination schemes that the claim about pinpoint accuracy is absurd.
That Washington-based outfit spies on behalf of Israel.
Ottolenghi has made the case that Israel should, in effect, be free to use as much force as it wishes against Palestinians. In a 2014 opinion piece, he lamented that “much of the international community” had refused to let Israel “finish off Hamas” that summer.
Israel killed approximately 2,200 Palestinians, 1,500 of them civilians, during the 2014 attack on Gaza. How many more would have died if Israel had been given carte blanche to “finish off” Hamas?
Freudenstein has indicated that his own devotion to Israel is partly the result of a Middle East trip arranged by the American Jewish Committee in 2003.
His relationship with that lobby group has deepened in the interim. The AJC Transatlantic Institute – the Brussels office of the American Jewish Committee – lists the Martens Centre as one of its partners.
The American Jewish Committee has been instrumental in setting up a new group called Transatlantic Friends of Israel. Bringing together lawmakers from the European Parliament and the US Congress, the new group wants to make the “West” even more complicit in Israel’s crimes than it currently is.
One objective identified by the group is to remove the conditions on which the EU’s relationship with Israel are nominally based. Under those conditions, the EU is not supposed to hug Israel tighter if it violates the basic rights of Palestinians.
Although the EU has actually refused to enforce these conditions, their very existence is too much for pro-Israel advocates. Portraying them as barriers to integration with Israel, the advocates want them eliminated entirely.
Freudenstein will more than likely be called on to help out the Transatlantic Friends of Israel – if he has not done so already.
The group’s objectives chime with his own. He has urged that Israel be officially designated a “strategic partner” by the European Union.
Freudenstein appears to share the aggressive worldview of the Israel lobby. He has, among other things, argued that the EU should be willing to fight wars against such adversaries as Russia.
Those kind of proposals used to be couched in more nuanced terms by the Brussels elite, as the development of the EU has generally been spun as a peace project.
Freudenstein is helping to make the drive for militarization of recent times seem normal or even desirable.
Don’t be fooled by his goofy videos, he is actually a very dangerous man.