The European Left Turns Back the Peace Process

All well-meaning people hope that the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors can be settled peacefully, if not ending in a paradise of inner tranquility.  Regrettably, leftist political groups in European countries are damaging that hope in two ways.  They ignore the belligerent statements as well as the actions of Palestinians.  In addition, by supporting unilateral actions by Palestinians, they repudiate formal international agreements made over the years, calling for an end to the Israeli-Arab conflict by negotiations.  The peace process is not helped by breakage of international understandings.

The British House of Commons – which, on October 10, 2014, approved a non-binding resolution, moved by left-wing members of the Labour Party in Parliament, calling for the recognition of a state of Palestine by a vote of 274 to 12, though most of the Conservative party abstained – did not appear to understand this.  They perceived themselves as making a small but symbolic step and a gesture for common humanity, but in effect, they ignored the fact that significant parts of the Palestinians do not recognize the State of Israel and would not allow that state to exist if they had power.

It remains a mystery why leftists ignore unequivocal Palestinian statements.  A recent one, reported in Al-Quds on October 3, 2014, comes from Jibril Rajoub, deputy secretary of the Fatah Central Committee.  Rajoub stressed that the Palestinian leadership had decided to close the subject of bilateral relations with the occupier (Israel).  Future relations with Israel would be as between enemies.

The British left apparently forgot, or perhaps welcomed, the belligerent voice of Palestinian President Abbas at the United Nations on September 26, 2014, when he spoke of the Palestinian people as subjected to “terrorism by the racist occupying power.”

The British left appeared to be unaware of threats to Israel and to Jews.  European countries have become conscious of these threats.  In France, the city of Lille, the fourth-largest in the country, decided “temporarily” to freeze its twin city agreement with Safed, one of Judaism’s holiest cities, the center of Kabbalah, and a major art center.  The ostensible and implausible reason for the decision was a response to actions by Israel when it was defending itself against Hamas rocket attacks during its Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in September 2014.  The city council explained that their decision was intended to pressure the Israeli government and thus accelerate the resolution of the conflict.

However, two other factors undermine this specious “explanation.”  One is the unmentioned fact that 4 of the 11 members of the council are Muslims in a city whose population at present is 27 percent Muslim.  The growing Muslim presence is reflected in at least two ways.  One indication is that thirteen mosques were built but only nine churches during the 2013 year.  Another is that a Muslim high school, the first in France, was started recently as an alternative to the secular public educational system.  

The second factor is that citizens of Lille are aware of, and may fear, trouble coming from Israel’s enemies.  They remember the unpleasant episode in June 2014 in the soccer match between Lille OSC and Israeli Maccabi Haifa, played in Austria.  Palestinian protestors interrupted the game by invading the field to attack the Israeli players.

The Palestinian issue has been complicated by being linked to Islamist terrorism.  France has been faced by the problem that more than 100 French women have left the country to join the terrorist Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.  Whatever their reasons, an identity crisis or a desire to become martyrs, their fate is foreseen.  They are already scheduled to become either the wives or the concubines of the terrorists.

Britain too has witnessed hundreds of citizens leaving the U.K. to fight for IS.  Instead of concentrating on this growing problem, the political left, the Labour Party (LP), in the country has concerned itself with the issue of a Palestinian state.  The British Liberal Democratic Party showed its blind spot or political deaf ear by holding its annual conference on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Though opinions within the Labour Party differ on Middle East questions, the party in 2011 and in 2012 supported the Palestinian bid for upgraded Palestinian status at the United Nations.  It did so when the U.N. approved the resolution for Palestine to become a non-member observer state by a vote of 139 to 9.  The British Conservative government was one of the 41 countries that abstained on the vote.

A considerable part of the Labour Party, if not the leadership, has adopted a more critical position on Israel, emulating that of Sweden.  On October 3, 2014, the new Swedish prime minister, the leftist Stefan Lofven, head of a coalition government, made a statement in Parliament on his first day in office.  He announced, as part of his general statement on government policy, that Sweden would recognize the state of Palestine.  He explained, in rather non sequitur fashion, that a two0state solution required mutual recognition and a will to coexist peacefully.  Therefore, Sweden would recognize the state of Palestine.  It is the first EU country to do so.  Other European countries – Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia – did so before they became EU members.

This ill-considered and counterproductive statement by the prime minister followed disturbing utterances by other leftist politicians in Malmö, Sweden, a city in which about one third of the inhabitants are Muslims.  Sweden’s leftist Social Democrats are harming the reputation of the country as rational and objective.  The former mayor of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu, was notorious for his statement that Zionism was racism, for statements that bordered on anti-Semitism, and for his refusal to deal with Muslim aggression against Jews in the streets of Malmö.

Another leftist politician, a member of the Malmö city council, Adrian Kaba, produced a new version of history.  In 2012, he warned of “the Jew-European extreme right-wing conspiracy.”  In October 2014, he proclaimed in his new version that the Israeli Mossad had trained the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  This bizarre set of accusations makes it appear that Swedish media do not carry information on recent events – namely, the beheading of innocent journalists and mass murders by IS.  Rather, Kaba informed us that “Muslims are not waging war; they are being used as pawns in other peoples’ game.”

The British leftists have not gone over to this ludicrous and paranoid Swedish leftist view of Israelis as almighty.  Though the Labour Party leaders thought it was unwise, a group of leftist members of the House of Commons did propose the motion on October 13, 2014 that the British government recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.  The initiator of the motion was a backbench MP named Grahame Morris, who, since December 2013, has been chair of the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East.  He spoke of the fight for freedom of the Palestinian people and against their unjust treatment, though he forgot to mention that Hamas was largely responsible.  His true views were revealed in an earlier speech when he mentioned that the comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa was “solid.”

Supporters of the Palestinians may take satisfaction in what they see as symbolic gestures and propaganda coups to which European countries pay attention.  But symbolic gestures do not change foreign policy, and unilateral actions do not advance peace.  The exact contours of a Palestinian state will be determined only by negotiations.  By calling for unilateral action for the establishment of a Palestinian state, the leftists are in effect reactionaries, preventing dialogue and perverting the international agreements that called for a final status to be determined by negotiations.