Jerusalem Post: “Europe must pick a side: Terror group or liberal democracy?” by EJC President Dr Ariel Muzicant

EJC President Dr. Ariel Muzicant authored an opinion article in the Jerusalem Post addressing the concerning position of EU member states, such as Spain and Belgium, in the conflict between Hamas and Israel.

“Not all of us have the same level of access to knowledge of the full barbaric extent of the atrocities committed by Hamas on Israeli civilians, on October 7.

Some may still be unsure of the exact details during those horrific hours as Hamas and Islamic Jihad entered Israeli sovereign territory, breaching an existing ceasefire in order to murder, rape, and mutilate without distinction for age or sex, and to carry off 240 hostages back to their lair in Gaza.

But we can be sure that Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez know very well.

Like many European leaders, De Croo and Sanchez met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem. They then traveled south to Kibbutz Be’eri on the Gaza border to see directly the destruction caused by Hamas.

A third of the members of the kibbutz were murdered on October 7 and others kidnapped by the terrorists. Many are still held.

Prime Minister Sanchez, from the country that currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Council (with Belgium next), unequivocally condemned the terror attacks, and stated the absolute right of Israel to defend itself. So far, so good, and no less than we would expect from the leaders of Europe’s democracies.

Then, together with his Belgian counterpart, Sanchez traveled to the Rafah crossing to continue their diplomatic mission, engaging in a level of political cynicism that disgraces both them and the European Union.Advertisement

At their press conference in Rafah, they apparently forgot the name of the terror organization, Hamas, that murdered and butchered some 1,200 Israelis. The organization that rules Gaza, that uses schools and hospitals to launch attacks on Israel, that hides its soldiers in underground tunnels and its leaders in luxury hotels in Qatar while its own Palestinian citizens suffer the consequences of its actions.

The organization that rules Gaza today because it threw Palestinian Authority officials off the top of multi-story buildings or tied them to motorcycles to pull their lifeless bodies through the streets of Gaza. That is Hamas, Mr Prime Ministers. The one designated by the EU, which you currently preside over, as a terror organization.

At Rafah, they chose to condemn Israel, not Hamas. They demanded an immediate ceasefire, yet a demand for the immediate release of all the hostages was somehow not forthcoming.

De Croo and Sanchez had a clear choice then and still do, one between defending a fellow liberal democracy against terrorism or supporting the terrorists. Last week they did both in the space of hours, apparently depending on their personal location at the given time of asking.

Still today, more than half of all the hostages remain in Hamas captivity. And with the terror group having broken the terms of the temporary truce, and having dragged out even those releases it did allow in the most cynical way to ensure the greatest possible suffering for Israeli families, surely it must be now abundantly clear to any European politician that the condition for any permanent cessation of hostilities is the immediate release of all hostages and the removal of the Hamas terror threat in Gaza.

There is no equivalent whatsoever between a democratic Israel which has been forced to wrestle with the moral dilemma to release three convicted violent Palestinian terrorists to secure the return home of a single Israeli child, while Hamas made sure that as many Israeli children remained in isolated incarceration as possible in order to release three of its violent terrorists from prison.

But for European leaders like De Croo and Sanchez, it seems sometimes that Israel and Hamas are just two sides of the same coin depending on the location of their press conferences.Israel understands who comes to give real solidarity and empathy. And we, European Jews, draw our own conclusions.

We understand that a Europe that willingly and rightly supported the military attacks on Serbia to rid the Balkans of the evil of Slobodan Milosevic and the bombing of Mosul to rid the world of ISIS, has different criteria when it comes to the Jewish state. It apparently has different criteria for Jews and there is a word for that. Thankfully, the same rules weren’t applied to the bombing of Germany by the allies to get rid of the Nazis

And we know, too, how this message filters down to the European street and beyond into antisemitic attacks on Jews in our cities, which have multiplied exponentially in recent weeks. If there is moral equivalence between victim and perpetrator, is it not in the least bit surprising that Jewish citizens on European streets are as much fair game as Israeli victims in Kibbutz Be’eri? 

To great fanfare this year, member states of the European Union, including Spain, announced their grandiose plans to combat antisemitism and foster Jewish life. We are still waiting for Belgium.

The actions last week of the current president of the Council of the European Union and his Belgian colleague are fostering antisemitism, and destroying Jewish life in Europe.”


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