Why are EU anti-Semitism duo allowed break rules?

By smearing elected representatives, Katharina von Schnurbein has breached a code of conduct for EU officials. (European Union) 

Civil servants do not generally pose as superheroes.

Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Union’s coordinator against anti-Semitism, is an exception.

She recently circulated a photograph of herself disguised as Batman. Her deputy Johannes Börmann appeared as Robin.

The picture can be viewed as a metaphor for how the duo behave. Apparently convinced of their boundless courage, they are freed from constraints applying to their peers.

The code of conduct for EU officials requires them to be “courteous, objective and impartial.” Both von Schnurbein and Börmann have broken that rule by making unwarranted allegations against elected representatives.

Over the past few days, Börmann has accused Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a prominent left-wing lawmaker in France, of “despicable anti-Semitism.”

Börmann was commenting on a blog post that Mélenchon wrote about how Britain’s Labour Party performed badly in last week’s election.

Mélenchon contended that Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, showed a weakness because he did not fight back against a smear campaign run by the pro-Israel lobby.

Mélenchon’s post was based on facts, not theory. Israel and its network of advocates clearly meddled in the British election and were clearly disgruntled by how Corbyn’s track record includes demanding justice for Palestinians.

One Israeli politician – Yair Lapid – admitted to such interference.

Contrary to what Börmann claimed, Mélenchon was not “scapegoating” the Jewish community.

While it is correct that he denounced Ephraim Mirvis, Britain’s chief rabbi, for joining the smear campaign, Mélenchon did not criticize the man based on his religion or ethnicity.

Mirvis tried to justify Israel’s 2014 massacres of Gaza civilians – massacres against which Corbyn protested.

That calls Mirvis’ motives for castigating Corbyn into question. Suggesting that it is anti-Semitic to take issue with a political opinion voiced by a rabbi would be like arguing that someone who opposes the Vatican’s teachings on women’s rights must be bigoted against Catholics.

Börmann’s accusation echoes one previously made by his “superhero” boss. Last year, von Schnurbein alleged that Ana Gomes, then a member of the European Parliament, had made “vile anti-Semitic expressions.”

Fickle knowledge

Gomes had spoken of a “very perverse lobby that tries to intimidate people.” That was an accurate way to describe the harassment she encountered while organizing an event featuring Omar Barghouti, a founder of the Palestinian campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Barghouti has often emphasized that the BDS movement is a progressive one, which rejects religious and racial discrimination in all their forms.

Despite – or perhaps because of – the moral clarity behind that position, the two “superheroes” in the Brussels bureaucracy have told vicious lies.

Börmann has gone so far as to compare the BDS movement with Adolf Hitler. During 2017, he applied the Nazi-era slogan “Don’t buy from the Jews” to activities by the group BDS Berlin.

Such calls “ring a bell” in the German capital, he tweeted.

Börmann was distorting reality. The BDS movement targets Israel and corporations profiting from that state’s crimes. It does not target Jews.

That was not the only time Börmann’s knowledge has proven fickle. He does not seem to have learned the basic truth about Israel’s state ideology, Zionism.

In another tweet, he stated that it is “extremely important to be aware of the history of anti-Zionism.”

If he practiced what he preached, Börmann would study how numerous Jews objected to Zionism, particularly during the first few decades of the 20th century.

Edwin Montagu was the only Jewish cabinet minister in Britain during 1917 – the year it declared support for the Zionist colonization program. Montagu saw the Zionist aspiration of setting up a state in Palestine as an existential threat.

Zionism, he felt, pandered to anti-Semites who wanted Jews removed from Europe.

Tightening the muzzle

Conflating opposition to Zionism with hostility toward Jews is ahistorical twaddle.

Börmann regularly produces such twaddle.

To try and lend it some credibility, he cites a definition of anti-Semitism approved in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a body bringing together 33 governments.

He neglects to mention how the original author of the definition – veteran pro-Israel lobbyist Kenneth Stern – has lambasted its use in muzzling free speech.

Börmann wants the muzzle to be tightened. He has, for instance, backed appeals to ban Israel Apartheid Week, a series of awareness-raising activities aimed at students and teachers.

Long before taking up his current job, Börmann had demonstrated an interest in Israel. He has previously worked for the EU’s embassy in Tel Aviv, as well as for the Hanns Seidel Foundation, a conservative outfit committed to boosting cooperation between Israel and Germany.

By constantly casting aspersions against the Palestine solidarity movement, Börmann is striving to advance Israel’s perceived interests. To all intents and purposes, he is a lobbyist embedded within the Brussels bureaucracy.

Börmann’s activities deserve to be scrutinized and exposed. Yet the mainstream media seem to have no interest in doing so.

Posing as the sidekick to a superhero, he can break rules with impunity.