A day after meeting Zionist rabbis – who form the religious backbone of Israel’s West Bank colonization – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu awarded another big dollop of cash for settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
According to the newspaper Haaretz, Netanyahu had sought the rabbis’ support in the face of mounting corruption probes. Netanyahu’s office denies any quid pro quo.
Among those meeting the prime minister were Haim Drukman, one of the founders of the Gush Emumim settler movement.
In 2012, Drukman, along with other senior rabbis and officials, held a ceremony to bid farewell to a prison-bound settler convicted – a rare occurrence – of abusing a Palestinian by beating him up, firing a gun near his head, stripping him and leaving him naked by the side of a road.
Drukman led that ceremony along with Dov Lior, a rabbi from the notoriously extreme settlement of Kiryat Arba.
Lior has praised Baruch Goldstein, who gunned down 29 Palestinians in the 1994 Hebron massacre, as “holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust.”
With a long record of violent incitement, Lior has also called on Israel to “cleanse” all Palestinians from territories it controls.
Lior was not reported to have attended the meeting with Netanyahu, but others on the guest list are scarcely less extreme. They include, for instance, Elyakim Levanon, who in 2014 called on the government to ban Arabs from driving cars.
Another, Eli Sadan, bears responsibility for institutionalizing the religious indoctrination and radicalization of Israeli youth before they enter the army.
Sadan, like other leading settler rabbis, is a graduate of Mercaz HaRav, a religious Zionist yeshiva, or school, which advocates keeping women out of institutions and rejects the state’s authority to withdraw from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
For those still in denial, this meeting gives a true measure of how seriously to take Netanyahu’s professed commitment to “peace” and a “two-state solution.”
But these harsh realities have made no dent whatsoever in the perception and policies of the European Union.
“Out of the public eye”
On Wednesday, the very day the new funding for Israel’s ever-expanding settlements was announced, the EU’s ambassador in Tel Aviv took to Twitter to brag about “how deep and strong EU-Israel relations are.”
Emanuele Giaufret tweeted a link to an article he penned for The Jerusalem Post defending the EU against claims that the bloc is somehow hostile to Israel.
“Relations are flourishing,” he writes, providing a laundry list of the support and “cooperation” the EU lavishes on Israel, including a staggering $550 million in “research” funding just since 2014.
That amounts to a $1 million reward for every child Israel killed during its 2014 assault on Gaza.
Giaufret admits that the EU “works closely with the Israeli government in all fields of cooperation – usually out of the public eye.”
This secrecy is not surprising since EU officials have admitted privately that ordinary Europeans strongly disapprove of the EU’s support for a government that violently deprives millions of Palestinians of their rights and freedom.
Giaufret does not mention Palestinians at all, but only alludes in passing to “differences on certain issues” between Israel and the EU.
There is no mention of settlements, evictions and home demolitions in Jerusalem, Israel’s systematic human rights abuses – including against hundreds of children like Ahed Tamimi who are in military detention – or of Israel’s wanton killings of Palestinian civilians like disabled protester Ibrahim Abu Thurayya.
Giaufret seems to be doing everything he can to persuade Israelis that the EU will never do anything to hold Israel accountable – though he did not go quite as far as his predecessor who last summer hired an advocate of genocide of the Palestinians to tout the benefits of EU-Israel trade.
It is true that most EU governments did anger Israel by backing the recent UN General Assembly resolution declaring Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to be null and void. But this is mere lip service in light of the EU’s steadfast policy of rewarding and incentivizing Israel’s crimes, including its colonization of East Jerusalem.
What Giaufret’s article confirms is that the fate of a people who have survived decades of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid does not even rate a mention in the European Union’s messaging to the Israeli public.
These are mere “differences” that can’t even be named.
The clear message from Brussels is that in the rush by Europe’s elites to embrace Israel’s ever more extreme government, Palestinian lives just don’t matter.