As David Cronin also puts it in the second clip (over the fold), “The European Union is chastising Israel with one side of its mouth, and kissing Israel with the other.” This London talk by Ali Abunimah and David Cronin was chaired by Oxford academic Dr Karma Nabulsi and hosted by Palestine Solidarity Campaign and KCL Action Palestine.
One of the most enjoyable things that has happened since I wrote a book on Israel’s relations with Europe is that I have been asked to speak at various universities. So when an invitation appeared in my email inbox to visit King’s College London (KCL), I immediately accepted. Big mistake.
The request came from the International Center for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), a partnership between King’s College and the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel. I only became aware of the partnership one day before I was scheduled to address an ICSR seminar in January. Following a hasty consultation with some friends in the Palestine solidarity movement, I withdrew from the event, informing the organisers that I fully supported the campaign to boycott Israeli goods and institutions.
Set up in 2008, the ICSR boasts on its website that it is “the first initiative of this kind in which Arab and Israeli academic institutions can work together”. This appears to be a reference to how the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy is also involved in its research on political violence. However, the participation of an academic body from an Arab state does not exonerate the ICSR for embracing the Herzliya centre, which has long tried to cloak Israeli apartheid with intellectual gravitas.
Each year the IDC hosts the Herzliya security conference, attracting Israel’s political, military and business elite, as well as illustrious foreign guests. Speakers at this conference can spout racist invective without fear of being challenged; in 2003, Yitzhak Ravid, a senior researcher with Israel’s weapons development authority Rafael called for coercive measures to curb the birth-rate among Palestinians. “The delivery rooms in Soroka Hospital in Be’ersheba have turned into a factory for the production of a backward population,” he said, alluding to an area with a considerable number of Bedouin inhabitants.
If imitation is the best form of flattery, then the activists behind Israeli Apartheid Week have been paid an immense tribute. As students belonging to Palestine support groups across Britain held events to mark the annual March event, they learned of a rival initiative. A network of on-campus Zionist societies have declared their own Israeli Awareness Week over the same period.
The awareness week has relied heavily on gimmicks to try and counter impressions that Israel has a war addiction. Stalls staffed by visiting Israeli students have offered sugary delights labelled “Peace of Cake”; signatures have been collected for a “we support a two-state solution” petition.
David Cronin’s important new book Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occuption (Pluto Press) is now available, filling a key void in the growing body of literature on the role of the Israel lobby. Cronin is one of the very few journalists who regularly exposes the pernicious role of the Israel lobby in Brussels and the long-standing hypocrisies of the European Union. (See some of Cronin’s articles published on PULSE in the past, here and here).
In carefully crafted official statements, the European Union presents itself as an honest broker in the Middle East. In reality, however, the EU’s 27 governments have been engaged in a long process of accommodating Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
Journalist David Cronin interrogates the relationship and its outcomes. A recent agreement for ‘more intense, more fruitful, more influential co-operation’ between the EU and Israel has meant that Israel has become a member state of the Union in all but name. Cronin shows that rather than using this relationship to encourage Israeli restraint, the EU has legitimised actions such as the ill-treatment of prisoners and the Gaza invasion.
Concluding his account, Cronin calls for a continuation and deepening of international activism and protest to halt the EU’s slide into complicity.
IPS’ David Cronin reports on French arms sales to Israel, which are “in total contradiction” to European Union rules on the defence industry according to a new study.
Between 2003 and 2007 France issued licences worth more than 446 million euros (623 million dollars) for arms exports to Israel. This made France by far the largest supplier of weapons to Israel in the EU.
Patrice Bouveret from the French Centre for Research on Peace and Conflicts (CRDPC) in Lyon says that these sales are at variance with the Union’s decade-old code of conduct on weapons exports. Formally declared legally binding by EU governments last year, the code forbids weapons sales in cases where they may exacerbate regional tensions or where there is a strong likelihood they will be used in violation of human rights.
Speaking at the launch Thursday of his new report on Israel’s involvement in the arms trade, titled ‘Who Arms Israel and Hamas?’, Bouveret dismissed repeated assurances from the French government that the exports in question are generally only components of military goods rather than complete weapons systems. “Even if they are only components, they are used directly by the Israeli army,” he added.