Contrary to the impression given by some commentators, Israel’s Labor Party has not lost its moral compass by backing the mass expulsion of African refugees. Labor never owned such a compass, yet its leaders have managed to pose as progressive.
Business cards distributed by Michal Zilberberg, until recently an Israeli Labor representative in Brussels, betoken such duplicity. The cards contain a quote from the late Yitzhak Rabin: “You don’t make peace with friends, you make it with very unsavory enemies.”
Rabin treated all Palestinians who refused to obey their oppressor as enemies. As defense minister during the first intifada, he instructed troops to “break the bones” of Palestinians. The order was taken literally.
Without doubt, many of the people Zilberberg has met in the EU bubble are not well-informed about Rabin’s cruelty. They are more likely to recall his extravagant handshake with the PLO’s Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn.
If Zilberberg swallowed the myth that the war criminal quoted on her business card really tried to make peace, it is not surprising that she has trouble distinguishing between left and right. Or right and wrong.
And the poster to which Zilberberg took umbrage displays a stylized map of historic Palestine transforming into a feather.
Zilberberg claimed that “people are just waving off the State of Israel, all the time” and that the map shown on “this seemingly innocent poster suggests that the Palestinian state covers the full territory of Israel.”
“That’s what the Palestinian right looks like,” she added. “All over the world the right-wing movements are racist and anti-Semitic. Is it any wonder that they’re that way among the Palestinians, too?”
Asked by phone for evidence that the organizers of the event are right-wing, Zilberberg said: “I don’t have to prove. It is my opinion.”
Her opinion is baseless.
The event is being organized by the largest Palestine solidarity organization in francophone Belgium, with support from a number of groups identifying themselves as socialist or as campaigners against global poverty. The idea that they are in hock to what Zilberberg calls the “Palestinian right” is ludicrous.
It is equally ludicrous to allege that there is something anti-Semitic about a map of historic Palestine or that displaying such an image amounts to “waving off” Israel.
Zilberberg confirmed by phone that she is still a member of Israel’s Labor Party. Last year, she took up a new job as events manager with the European Jewish Association, a lobby group working closely with Israel’s EU embassy.
Her complaints about the imaginary bias of Palestine solidarity campaigners seem all the more hypocritical given that the European Jewish Association panders to right-wing forces.
Margolin’s remark was made in July – not long after Orban had caused great anger to the Jewish community when he named Miklos Horthy as one of Hungary’s “exceptional statesmen.” Horthy was a dictator who struck up an alliance with Adolf Hitler during World War II.
Margolin is a rabbi and the European Jewish Association has placed the fight against anti-Semitism high on its list of priorities. How, then, can he praise Orban, who has delivered a grave insult to Holocaust victims?
The answer is simple: Orban is considered an important ally by the Israeli government.
And Margolin is one of the key pro-Israel lobbyists in Brussels.
He is a founder, for example, of Europe Israel Public Affairs, which describes itself as the “only 100 percent secular and non-partisan pro-Israel lobby group working solely within the EU institutions.”
Margolin is not transparent about the full extent of his work.
Documents filed with the Belgian authorities show that he is president of another “nonprofit organization” called The Joseph Project, which was formed in 2007.
Under Belgian law, nonprofit groups are supposed to declare their purpose. Yet the documents which Margolin has filed for The Joseph Project are extremely vague. They merely say that the group is interested in political, cultural, educational and religious activities.
A spokesperson for Margolin – who did not give their name – stated by email that The Joseph Project in Brussels “has nothing to do” with an Israeli group of the same name. The latter group boasts on its website of helping the settlements that Israel has built in the occupied West Bank, all of which violate international law.
Margolin’s office did not reply when asked for further clarification about what the Brussels-based Joseph Project does.
Something is being hidden here. Why are these lobbyists not prepared to disclose their activities?
Dena Shunra contributed translation from Hebrew.