“Public relations” professionals recommend that messages should be tailored to win over particular audiences. The result can be that different things are said to different groups of people. The truth gets distorted; sometimes it is replaced by lies.
I’ve found evidence to show that the European Union resorted to that kind of duplicity while trying to strengthen its economic ties with Israel.
One of the most significant decisions taken in that respect was the European Parliament’s approval of a trade deal with Israel during 2012.
Known as the Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products agreement — or ACAA — its entire purpose was to make life easier for Israeli exporters. Under it, quality checks carried out by Israeli authorities on manufactured goods would automatically be recognized by the European Union. Firms would thereby be spared the expense and hassle of having to undergo fresh checks when goods arrive at their destination.
After Operation Cast Lead — Israel’s attack on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009 — the dossier was blocked because of opposition from some members of the parliament (MEPs). Frustrated by the delay, Israel hired the “public relations” firm Kreab Gavin Anderson and marshalled MEPs sympathetic to Zionism.
Israel’s efforts to get the dossier endorsed also won support from the EU’s trade chief, Karel de Gucht. A key tactic the Belgian politician employed was to downplay the significance of the deal. Speaking to the European Parliament, de Gucht described ACAA as “no more than a technical agreement.”
A briefing note drawn up by his aides suggests that when replying to MEPs’ questions, he should argue that the deal was simply a follow-up to the EU’s main political accord with Israel (that “association agreement” came into effect in 2000). “The ACAA with Israel is not a new initiative and cannot be seen as an upgrade of our trade relations,” the paper states.
This memo doesn’t seem to have been copied to de Gucht’s colleague, Antonio Tajani, then the EU’s enterprise chief.
When he visited Israel in October last year, Tajani was advised to celebrate ACAA as one of the “latest landmark successes” in EU-Israel relations (see document published below). Far from dismissing the deal as purely technical, Tajani’s aides told him that ACAA’s entry into force at the beginning of 2013 “constitutes an important first step towards Israel’s integration into the single market” for goods and services.
Put simply, this means that Israeli exporters would enjoy the same trade perks as firms based within the EU. Although ACAA is initially limited to pharmaceuticals, it can be extended to other products.
Exports to the EU are vital to the Israeli economy. Worth €12.5 billion ($16 billion), they comprised one-third of all Israeli exports last year.
“Calculated to destroy”
Yesterday, the prominent human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield underscored why action against Israel’s crimes is required so urgently. “We are inches away from something that will become genocide on a scale we haven’t seen for some years unless the international community does something about it,” he said.
The tribunal concluded that Israel’s military activities inflicted “serious bodily or mental harm” against the Palestinians. These activities were “calculated” to destroy the Palestinian people “in whole or in part,” it added.
Crimes of that nature meet the UN’s definition of genocide.
The “international community” to which Mansfield referred is a synonym for the United States and its allies, particularly the European Union.
By deepening its trade relations with Israel, the European Union is embracing a perpetrator of genocide.
No amount of “public relations” can obfuscate that fact.