The Electronic Intifada / June 11, 2021
Christian Zionism is repugnant.
Its adherents seek to excuse the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes by claiming that is permitted by the Bible.
As an ideology that excuses colonization is at odds with basic decency, there can be little surprise that some of its subscribers are unable or unwilling to defend their stance when challenged.
Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Union’s coordinator for combating anti-Semitism, has dropped strong hints that she is a Christian Zionist.
On occasions, she has spoken about how her support for Israel stems from her Protestant upbringing in a largely Catholic Bavaria. The church to which she belonged established contacts with Israel during the 1980s, she has stated.
Von Schnurbein is quite public about her support for Israel.
Her support was evident on Friday 14 May.
That evening, von Schnurbein tweeted “Am Yisrael Chai” – a Hebrew expression meaning “the people of Israel live.” Her tweet “quoted” another one, containing the hashtags “#StandWithIsrael” and “#PrayForIsrael.”
There was no ambiguity about the position von Schnurbein was taking. She was clearly endorsing Israeli aggression.
Israel had begun that week by opening fire on Palestinians in Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque. Soon afterwards Israel launched its latest major attack on Gaza – an attack that was at full throttle when von Schnurbein sent her tweet.
Despite how she is not shy in supporting Israel, von Schnurbein seems averse to critical scrutiny about what motivates that support.
I emailed her a few days ago, asking simple questions: Do you regard yourself as a Christian Zionist?
And, if so, has your commitment to Christian Zionism influenced your work as the EU’s coordinator against anti-Semitism?
Von Schnurbein did not reply. But I did get a response from Christian Wigand, a spokesperson for the European Commission, the EU’s executive.
“We will not accept the targeting of any Commission officials, including with allegations such as yours,” Wigand said. “The European Commission’s policies are not about personal opinions of any of our individual officials, but about political decisions and their implementation.”
Von Schnurbein is not some defenseless civil servant subject to unfounded accusations – as Wigand implied. She has a much higher profile than most Brussels officials of similar rank.
As a public figure – with a salary paid out of the public purse – von Schnurbein’s activities are fair game for journalists.
While von Schnurbein may not answer questions about her apparent commitment to Christian Zionism, it is a demonstrable fact that she cooperates with Christian Zionists.
Earlier this year, she took part in an online conference hosted by the European Coalition for Israel. During it, von Schnurbein stressed that she had a “very long-standing relationship” with that group.
The European Coalition for Israel is the main Christian Zionist outifit lobbying the Brussels institutions.
It frequently seeks to deceive. On 11 May, the group issued a statement praising Israel for its “moderation and self-restraint.”
Palestinians may have struggled to find evidence of that “moderation and self-restraint.” Israel’s aforementioned attack on al-Aqsa mosque had taken place one day earlier.
That was a blatant violation of Muslims’ right to worship during Ramadan. The European Coalition for Israel omitted that salient fact.
Bizarrely, the group argued that “Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty is the best guarantee for religious freedom.”
Aiding war crimes
The European Coalition for Israel is actually quite a small coalition. The EU’s register of lobbyists indicates that its membership consists of just two organizations.
One of them – Christians for Israel International – aids settlement activities in the occupied West Bank.
The building of settlements on territories Israel captured in 1967 are war crimes under international law.
That means at least one of the member groups in the European Coalition for Israel abets war crimes.
A document filed with the US revenue authorities – see below – shows that the European Coalition for Israel has itself received money from the Christian Broadcasting Network. That network is synonymous with its founder Pat Robertson, a promoter of anti-Muslim bigotry.
The Christian Broadcasting Network funds young people from various countries who join Israel’s military – the same military that subjects Palestinians to a brutal occupation.
Given its murky connections, the European Coalition for Israel ought to be shunned by Brussels officials. Yet Katharina von Schnurbein seems happy to have a “very long-standing relationship” with this outfit.
Since her appointment as the EU’s coordinator against anti-Semitism, von Schnurbein has repeatedly smeared Palestine solidarity campaigners by falsely alleging that they incite hatred against Jews. The first example of her resorting to such smears that I have found was during a speech she made to a 2016 conference organized by the European Coalition for Israel.
Christian Zionism is a perversion of Christianity.
Jesus of Nazareth championed the downtrodden. There is nothing in his teachings that provides any justification whatsoever for the oppression of Palestinians.
Just as Israel does not represent all Jews, Christian Zionists do not represent all Christians.
Nor do European Union officials represent the views of all Europeans.
Katharina von Schnurbein has no mandate to act as a pro-Israel lobbyist within the Brussels bureaucracy. It is past time that she should be removed from her post.
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