The Electronic Intifada / May 19, 2023
Last month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen published a short video congratulating Israel on its 75th so-called independence day, which Tel Aviv marks according to the Jewish calendar.
The video, posted on Twitter by the EU embassy in Tel Aviv, generated outrage among Palestinians and their supporters as the top EU civil servant repeated Zionist myths justifying Israel’s violent, planned expulsion of indigenous Palestinians before and after the establishment of the self-declared Jewish state in 1948.
“Nearly every single thing” von der Leyen said in the video, “was a lie,” according to Clare Daly, a member of the European Parliament. “It’s time those lies were called out directly,” the Irish lawmaker added.
And that’s exactly what Daly did in an extraordinary series of one-minute videos she posted on Twitter on Nakba Day – the commemoration of their 1948 ethnic cleansing that Palestinians mark annually on 15 May.
Especially offensive to many was the way von der Leyen claimed that Israel “made the desert bloom.”
“The very phrase ‘made the desert bloom’ is an infamous Zionist lie which denies the prior existence of Palestinians in their own homeland,” Daly says. “It’s so brazen in its revision of history that it’s the equivalent to proposing that the Earth is flat.”
Each of Daly’s short videos starts with a clip from von der Leyen’s address followed by Daly’s powerful rebuttal.
Along with her Irish colleague Mick Wallace, Daly has attained growing international stature for being among the few members of the European Parliament prepared to stand up to the Brussels consensus supporting the US proxy war in Ukraine, demonizing China and providing unconditional support to Israel.
Daly’s videos, which have already gone viral, deserve to be seen and heard as widely as possible – particularly the way Daly calls out German politicians like von der Leyen who use their support for Israel to whitewash their Holocaust guilt.
The first of Daly’s videos is at the top of this post, and is transcribed here. The four other short videos are below.
Ursula von der Leyen: “75 years ago a dream was realized with Israel’s Independence Day.”
Clare Daly: Between 1947 and 1949, three quarters of all Palestinians living in historic Palestine were systematically uprooted and violently expelled from their homes and villages by Zionist militias.
Over four million acres of land were stolen, 400 towns destroyed, hundreds of Palestinians massacred during the events that led to the creation of the Israeli state.
This may have been the realization of a dream for Zionists, but for Palestinians it was the beginning of a nightmare that has continued for over 70 years: the invasion and destruction of their homeland and their transformation into a colonized people.
These events are known to them not as Israeli independence but as the Nakba, the catastrophe. Describing the Nakba as a “dream” is a provocation, a deliberate and cruel insult to millions of Palestinians all over the world. It is unacceptable and must be condemned.
Ursula von der Leyen: “After the greatest tragedy in human history, the Jewish people could finally build a home in the Promised Land.”
Clare Daly: A German politician describing the Holocaust as “a tragedy” is Holocaust revisionism. It’s a denial of responsibility for carrying out that crime.
A tragedy is a terrible but unavoidable event for which no one is really responsible. The Holocaust, however, was the most ambitious act of deliberate mass murder in history, extermination of most of Europe’s Jews by Nazi Germany.
That’s not a “tragedy.” It’s a genocide, a crime against humanity.
German politicians are the leading Zionists in Europe today.
From right to left, Germany’s political class back Israel through thick and thin. In return, the Israeli state is expected to help the German establishment leave its Holocaust guilt in the past.
But the Holocaust can’t be shrugged off like this and Israel’s crimes against Palestinians cannot and will not be ignored.
Ursula von der Leyen: “75 years of dynamism, ingenuity and groundbreaking innovations, you have literally made the desert bloom.”
Clare Daly: Israel did not “make the desert bloom.” The very phrase “made the desert bloom” is an infamous Zionist lie which denies the prior existence of Palestinians in their own homeland.
It’s so brazen in its revision of history that it’s the equivalent to proposing that the Earth is flat.
And to hear a notorious propaganda lie like this come out of the mouth of the president of the European Commission is beyond disgraceful. Palestine before the occupation wasn’t empty. It wasn’t “a land without a people for a people without a land.”
It was continuously inhabited for millennia by diverse peoples and communities, including Muslims, Christians and Jews.
It has a rich, proud history, culture and traditions. The region was blooming long before the Zionist occupation and it still blooms despite it.
Ursula von der Leyen: “Europe and Israel are bound to be friends and allies. Your freedom is our freedom.”
Clare Daly: Seriously? Israel’s freedom is Europe’s freedom? Where does that leave Palestine?
The calculated insensitivity to Palestinian experiences in this address is quite blatant. The message von der Leyen wants to convey is,’if you’re a Palestinian, the European Union doesn’t care about you.’
Well, let’s be very clear about this: That’s another lie. Many, many people in the European Union do care about you.
Many of us want nothing to do with a disgraceful apartheid regime. Ursula von der Leyen doesn’t speak for us. And she has no right to say these things on behalf of the 447 million citizens of the EU.
Ursula von der Leyen: “Today, we celebrate 75 years of vibrant democracy in the heart of the Middle East.”
Clare Daly: From the brutal attacks against worshippers at Al-Aqsa mosque, to the settler violence against Palestinian communities, to the assassination of Palestinian journalists, to IDF [Israeli army] murders in the streets, to attacks on the funeral procession of Palestinians shot dead by the IDF, to the shock and awe airstrikes on densely populated Gaza, to the most extreme right-wing government in Israeli history tearing up the independence of the supreme court, the image of Israel as a democracy is crumbling before the eyes of the world.
Von der Leyen describing Israel as a vibrant democracy now, at this moment, is protesting too much.
It only makes it clear what we already know: Israel is not a democracy; 4.5 million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation don’t have a vote.
Even Palestinians who are Israeli citizens are subject to a qualified set of rights because they are Palestinians. This isn’t democracy. This is apartheid.
Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine (Haymarket Books)