Racists are Israel’s best friends in European Parliament

Right-wing parties are likely to have a sizable presence in the next European Parliament. (European Parliament) 

Right-wing parties are expected to have a sizable presence in the European Parliament following this week’s elections.

The Israel lobby will be pleased with such an outcome. Its main buddies are bigots.

That much is clear from a recent report by the European Coalition for Israel (ECI).

After analyzing voting records, the ECI concluded that representatives from Vox in Spain were the most consistently pro-Israel among all members of the European Parliament.

Vox advocates the kinds of policies with which Donald Trump has become synonymous in the US. In October last, Vox proposed a Spanish entry ban on “immigrants from countries with an Islamic culture if their correct and peaceful integration cannot be guaranteed.”

While most people contesting the European Parliament election have been focused on campaigning in their home countries lately, Vox sent two of its candidates to visit Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.

The trip took place soon after Karim Khan, chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, announced that he was requesting a warrant for Netanyahu’s arrest.

Vox belongs to the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) political grouping. It is viewed as the most solidly pro-Israel bloc in the European Parliament, followed by the Identity and Democracy Group, a far-right alliance that includes France’s National Rally (formerly National Front), Belgium’s Vlaams Belang and Austria’s Freedom Party.

The European Coalition for Israel has no qualms about working with extremists.

It has singled out Jörg Meuthen as being a leading supporter of Israel in the outgoing parliament.

Meuthen used to be a co-leader of Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has continuously downplayed the Nazis’ crimes. Following years of loyal service, Meuthen quit that party in 2022.

At the time, he complained of the AfD’s “totalitarian overtones.” More recently, he has argued that the party is not standing up for Israel sufficiently.

Impunity has been lost

As the European Coalition of Israel is constantly trying to influence lawmakers, it merits far more scrutiny than it receives.

Christian Zionist in orientation, it makes biblical references when seeking to defend Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinians.

Tomas Sandell, ECI’s director, contended in April that “the future is not won by arguments made at international courts, regardless of how important these are, but by storytelling, by those who have the most compelling story to tell.”

He depicted Israel’s establishment as a “rebirth” which marked “the beginning of a decolonization process as it proved that the Jewish people are the indigenous people in Palestine.”

That claim speaks volumes about how ECI has a fundamentally racist worldview. Palestinians can be expelled from their homes and even slaughtered en masse, as the European Coalition for Israel thinks the Bible has foreordained such horrors.

Although the claim that the Bible should have primacy over international law is not echoed by many EU policymakers or officials, they are willing to cooperate with the ECI and other players in the Israel lobby.

ECI declared a total budget of more than $450,000 for 2022. Almost half of that sum came from the Esther Foundation, according to ECI’s entry in the European Union’s “transparency register.”

Tomas Sandell told me by phone that the Esther Foundation is based in Switzerland.

“It is a private foundation, which obviously is a Chrstian foundation,” he said. “And it has a particular interest in combating anti-Semitism.”

The ECI charges left-wing opponents of Israel with anti-Semitism.

I asked Sandell if he considered criticism of Israel’s state ideology Zionism to be the same thing as hostility towards Jews based on their religion or ethnicity.

“The new anti-Semitism is exactly as you describe it,” he said.

According to Sandell, “we don’t see a distinction” between anti-Semitism and making the case that Israel is “illegitimate” as a Jewish state.

His choice of words are instructive. Israel invented the “new anti-Semitism” concept back in the 1970s to try and contend that its opponents are motivated by a hatred of Jews.

Besides, it is correct and proper to contend that Israel is illegitimate as a Jewish state. Giving people of one religion or race more rights than all others should be viewed as anachronistic and abhorrent.

The Israel lobby might take succor from the results of this week’s elections. Yet it would be foolish to be complacent.

By requesting a warrant for Netanyahu’s arrest, the ICC’s prosecutor has ensured that Israel has finally lost its impunity. No matter how many extremists it courts, the lobby won’t bring that impunity back.


Add new comment