The Electronic Intifada / May 11, 2021
For all their attempts to sound balanced, European Union diplomats are not neutral observers in Palestine. Most of what they say is aimed at legitimizing a lie.
Typically, the diplomats painted a false picture when Israel’s police stormed al-Aqsa mosque early on Monday. Rather than condemning Israel’s brutality, the EU referred to “ongoing clashes.”
Some 400 Palestinians were injured as they were attacked with stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets. And the EU implied that they brought it on themselves.
The formulaic statements from diplomats don’t tell the full story about how the EU takes Israel’s side.
The police force which attacked Al-Aqsa Mosque this week is overseen by Israel’s ministry for “public security.” That ministry has directly received more than $2 million in EU science grants since 2014.
The significance of those grants stretches far beyond the money involved.
The EU prides itself on running world-renowned research programs. By involving Israel’s “public security” ministry in those programs, the EU is conferring respectability on a key pillar of Israel’s apartheid system.
A government department actively involved in pushing Palestinians out of Jerusalem has been treated as a valuable player in EU-funded activities. Those activities have even been depicted as necessary for fighting international crime.
Among the worst diplomats is Emanuele Giaufret, the EU’s envoy in Tel Aviv. He is willing to be used as a pawn in Israel’s propaganda exercises.
Last week, he posed for photographs alongside Ghasan Alyan from Israel’s military.
Alyan is literally the chief of the occupation inflicted on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Until recently, Alyan headed one deceptively-named occupation body – the Israeli Civil Administration. Last month, he began leading another such body – the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
The meeting between Giaufret and Alyan was about potential cooperation to promote “stability and prosperity,” a brief report suggested.
If Alyan is actually committed to stability and prosperity, he has an intriguing way of showing it.
Part of his work over the past few years has involved making sure that demolition orders are carried out in the West Bank.
Speaking to members of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, during 2020, he effectively boasted that he was making it harder for international aid to benefit Palestinians.
With Israel destroying so much aid, donors have reduced the number of projects they finance in the West Bank.
Donors have been warned that “we won’t tolerate” any project of which Israel doesn’t approve, Alyan said.
That should have been interpreted as a calculated insult by the EU. Here was a general taking delight in all the damage his troops had inflicted on aid projects bankrolled by European taxpayers.
Apart from assessing the destruction and writing the occasional letter, the EU’s governments and institutions have never taken any action. None of them has ever sued Israel.
Lust for violence
Ghasan Alyan is now the top enforcer of the blockade imposed on Gaza. More than likely, though, he won’t describe himself in those terms.
Instead, we can expect him to maintain the fiction that COGAT is chock full of do-gooders. COGAT’s social media pages regularly hype how it allows essential items into Gaza.
Letting a besieged people eat a few crumbs is supposedly a great humanitarian gesture.
Alyan was not big on humanitarian gestures when he commanded the Golani Brigade, an elite division of the Israeli military.
It was in that capacity that he participated in the huge Israeli offensive against Gaza during the summer of 2014.
Alyan was tasked with “cleaning up” Shujaiya, a neighbourhood in Gaza City, according to the French newspaper Libération.
In one particularly notorious incident, a young man, Salem Shamaly, was killed in cold blood by an Israeli sniper as he looked for survivors from his family in the rubble of their home following the massacre.
Because he was wounded, Alyan has been hailed as a hero for his role in razing Al-Shujaiyeh. The Israeli military’s website has called him a “perfect figure.”
Alyan was evacuated from Gaza for treatment in July 2014. He returned promptly because, in his own words, he wanted his battalion to “destroy as many terrorists as possible.”
An invading army which butchers kids cannot be taken seriously when it describes the resistance it encounters as terrorism.
To their shame, EU diplomats do take Israel seriously.
Gaza has once again come under attack this week. Palestinian children are once again being killed by Israel.
And once again, the EU’s Emanuele Giaufret is portraying Palestinians as the aggressor and Israel as the victim.
Asked for a comment, Peter Stano, the EU’s foreign policy spokesperson, said it was part of Giaufret’s “everyday job” to have meetings with “a variety of partners.”
Notice that choice of words. EU diplomats regard Israel’s war criminals as their partners.
David Cronin is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada; his books include Balfour’s Shadow: A Century of British Support for Zionism and Israel and Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occupation