The Electronic Intifada / October 18, 2019
Israel’s involvement in a major research program run by the European Union has been valued at nearly $1.6 billion – more than enough to buy silence over the plight of the Palestinians.
Using the term “values” at regular intervals appears to be mandatory when the Brussels bureaucracy communicates with the public. Generally, the term is used to camouflage the real effects of policies with waffle about human rights and democracy.
One internal paper indicates that – behind closed doors – EU representatives are really motivated by values of a financial and commercial nature.
The document was prepared for Carlos Moedas, the EU’s science commissioner, before a discussion he had during December 2018 with Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Israel’s ambassador in Brussels.
The officials who wrote the paper told Moedas that “you value greatly the role research and innovation play” in shaping relations between Israel and the EU.
Clearly impressed by Israel’s reputation as a high-tech powerhouse, the officials added there is “no doubt about our appetite to pursue cooperation” in the years ahead.
Although Israel has taken part in the EU’s research activities since 1996, the scope of its participation has widened considerably during that period.
Recent recipients of EU science grants have included Israel’s defense and “public security” ministries. They are the government departments which oversee a military that occupies the West Bank and Gaza and prisons in which Palestinians are frequently tortured.
Ignorance is no excuse
As the man in charge of Horizon 2020 – the EU’s science program – Moedas bears responsibility for allowing bodies which oppress Palestinians to benefit from it.
Is Moedas properly informed about these matters? Probably not.
The aforementioned briefing paper does not discuss the ethics of embracing a massive human rights abuser such as Israel.
Ignorance is no excuse, however. Even if his entourage has decided to keep him in the dark, Moedas could easily find out the truth about Israel from other sources.
One condition of participating in Horizon 2020 is that Israel contributes towards the program’s budget.
Moedas’ briefing paper – obtained through a freedom of information request – stresses that Israel looks set to be a net beneficiary.
According to projections by EU officials, Israel will have drawn down almost $1.6 billion in grants from Horizon 2020, by the time it concludes next year (the program began in 2014). The overall sum would be approximately $155 million higher than the $1.4 billion which Israel is expected to pay into the program.
Singing in harmony
The briefing paper – published below – suggests that Israel will be able to join the EU’s next multi-annual research program, named Horizon Europe.
Israel is nonetheless perturbed that Horizon Europe will provide fewer financial opportunities for its weapons makers than the current program.
Horizon Europe will be separate from the European Defence Fund, a new initiative designed to stimulate innovation in the war industry. Israel may not be able to sign up to that fund, the paper indicates.
Israel’s merchants of death should not be too miffed at this slight.
Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries – leading suppliers of drones used in attacks on Gaza – have proven adept at winning EU grants until now. With a bit of ingenuity, they should be able to continue doing so.
Moreover, Israel has helped to set the agenda whereby the EU is splurging greater quantities of taxpayers’ money on developing killer robots and other futuristic weapons.
Israel’s war industry was active in some of the “expert” discussions which paved the way for the new fund to be established.
For the first time, the EU will soon have a commissioner dedicated to bolstering the war industry. That is unlikely to have escaped Israel’s attention.
EU policy makers and Israeli weapons makers are singing in harmony.
Elbit has lately used arms fairs to showcase its “vision” for how the battles of tomorrow will be fought. Elbit’s work on envisaging the future has been facilitated by its past testing of weapons on Palestinian civilians.
Israel and its war industry are perfectly capable of seizing the opportunities afforded by greater militarization in Europe, the US or further afield. With the correct branding, they will even be lauded for protecting Western “values.”
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.