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JfJfP comments


06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011




How Israel might be enticed to peace…

cifHow the EU could entice Israel to seek peace

Making Europe’s cosiness with Israel dependent on commitment to fair peace would be more effective than a blunt boycott

Khaled Diab, 6 November 2010

In Israel, the European Union is often regarded as too pro-Palestinian. But it would be a mistake to see the occasional criticisms of Israel delivered by European politicians as a sign of anti-Israeli sentiment.

It may come as a surprise, for instance, to learn that the EU – not the United States – is Israel’s main trading partner, with a relationship worth a handsome €20bn (£17bn) per year.

Not only that, but Israel enjoys the status of a “privileged partner”. Recent years have witnessed the EU and Israel striving to “develop an increasingly close relationship, going beyond co-operation, to involve a significant measure of economic integration and a deepening of political co-operation”.

When it comes to the Eurovision song contest and football, Israel is counted as part of Europe. But it doesn’t stop there. Israel “is a member of the European Union without being a member of its institutions,” as the EU’s former foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, put it succinctly.

In a new book, Europe’s Alliance with Israel, Brussels-based journalist David Cronin reveals just how cosy the EU institutions in Brussels and the capitals of numerous member states have become with Israel, although not comprehensively nor monolithically so, but without any democratic mandate to do so.

Despite the book’s occasional resorting to polemic and hyperbole, which sometimes weaken the case it is making, it is a welcome study of a reality that is under-reported and under-scrutinised. “The European Union has allowed itself to become a fig leaf for an illegal occupation,” Cronin writes.

Although he might have done more to set the relationship in a historical context, Cronin chronicles the depths of EU-Israel ties in all spheres, from the economic and scientific to the cultural. Among the most shocking revelations is how funding under EU programmes – such as the seventh framework programme and the competitiveness and innovation framework programme – is being awarded to Israeli defence and security firms and companies which profit from Israeli settlements.

Even European aid to the Palestinians can benefit Israel and help sustain its occupation. An estimated 45% of European aid to the Palestinians finds its way into the Israeli economy, Cronin says, citing unnamed UN sources.

A perversely destructive triangle has emerged in which the US provides Israel with military aid which it uses to destroy Palestinian infrastructure, while the EU foots the bill for cleaning up the mess. “Are EU taxpayers really happy to pay to reconstruct what US taxpayers have paid to destroy?” the progressive Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti asked MEPs.

So, what can be done? Although Cronin does a decent job of describing the status quo, he dedicates a mere seven pages, almost as an afterthought, to outlining a course of action. Obviously disenchanted and disillusioned with Europe’s political elites, many of whom do not seem to share their electorates’ concern with the plight of the Palestinians and the festering conflict which is damaging also to Israel, he advocates vigorous and robust grassroots action, namely the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“A campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions helped end white minority rule in South Africa,” he argues. “Supporting this boycott is a practical act of international solidarity.”

Although I personally do not buy Israeli products because I do not know how much of my money will go to propping up the occupation or violating the human rights of Palestinians, any BDS campaign should tread very carefully. In order to be fair and just, it should be carefully targeted, as much as is possible, towards activities that directly fuel or profit from the occupation, so as to minimise the harm to ordinary Israelis and to avoid the further entrenching of a “bunker mentality” in Israel.

I also have major misgivings about a blanket cultural boycott. Instead, I favour a selective boycott of known extremists, apologists for the occupation and Israeli militarism, and those who advocate discrimination and stoke up hatred against Palestinians. But dialogue with moderates and ordinary citizens is crucial if we are ever to achieve the level of understanding and trust upon which a sustainable peace can be constructed.

In terms of policy, Cronin advocates that the EU should suspend its association agreement with Israel because Israel has violated the human rights conditions set out in the accord. Although Israel is in no moral position to criticise the potential application of sanctions against it, given its suffocating embargo on Gaza, suspending the EU’s trade and other ties with Israel opens up a huge can of worms.

One difficulty it raises is that if Europe starts applying the human rights clauses in its association agreements more strictly, then it would probably have to suspend or downgrade its relationship with much of the Mediterranean and other neighbouring regions, not to mention a couple of its own members. If Israel, why not Turkey because of the Kurds or Morocco because of Western Sahara? Another complication is that sanctions have proven so ineffective in the past and have often created public solidarity amid adversity and suffering even for vile dictators.

Nevertheless, Israel’s increasingly harsh treatment of the Palestinians and its policy of imprisoning them in ever-smaller enclaves needs a robust response, and certainly should not be rewarded.

For the first time, European leaders have, with the Lisbon treaty, the tools at their disposal, given enough political will and courage, to forge a common foreign policy on key issues like the Israeli-Palestinian question, whose resolution is not only in the interests of the parties to the conflict but also of Europe’s own security and safety.

This common policy would focus on a gradual, but systematic, downgrading of Europe’s relationship with Israel for as long as no progress is made to resolve the conflict. As a reward for a comprehensive and fair peace, the EU can provide Israel (and a future Palestinian state, for that matter) with the prospect of becoming a real, bona fide member of the union.

As European leaders are unlikely to make hard decisions on their own, public pressure will be essential. The Lisbon treaty also provides ordinary people with a tool to petition the EU, namely the European Citizens Initiative. If a broad civil society coalition can collect a million signatures from concerned citizens on a blueprint for change, then we stand a chance of redefining the EU’s role in this interminable conflict.

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