ZOA Praises EU’s Frattini For Criticizing Lack Of European Understanding & Support For Israel
January 23, 2008

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has praised the European Union Commissioner for Justice Freedom and Security and former Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, for criticizing Europe’s lack of understanding for Israel’s position, for too frequently and unfairly criticizing Israel and being insufficiently supportive. Addressing the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzaliya, Frattini said that, “There has been a large misunderstanding in recent years between Europe and Israel. And Israel is justified in its concerns. For too long, Europe has put too much blame on Israel for lack of peace with the Palestinians. We, as Europeans, should have understood Israel’s concerns sooner … as friends, it was our duty to criticize when we felt criticism was needed, but we did it too often and unfairly. We asked you to take risks and often we didn’t provide you with assurances that you wouldn’t stand alone if things went badly … Europe’s attitude towards Israel is changing … Today, Europe better understands the complexities of the Middle East landscape.”

Frattini also observed of the rising tide of anti-Semitism throughout Europe that, “We are strongly fighting against Anti-Semitism in Europe. This kind of prejudice has no place in Europe today and never will. We will not tolerate anti-Semitism and we take it very seriously.” Frattini also spoke to Israeli reporters outside the conference, where he repudiated the notion that Israel’s pressure on Gaza, including withholding electricity, constituted a war crime and criticized the incessant Qassem rocket fire on Israeli civilian population centers near Gaza (Yediot Ahronot, January 22, 2008).

Also visiting Israel, the Dutch Foreign Minister, Maxime Verhagen, said in an interview yesterday that the singling out of Israel for criticism in international forums was unfair: “It is not acceptable to focus on Israel time after time, while other countries like Sudan do not receive any reference whatsoever at the United Nations Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly in New York.” Verhagen also said that Holland would not criticize Israelis actions in respect of Hamas without also condemning Hamas attacks upon Israel and that his government “would never negotiate with Hamas for as long as it calls for the destruction of Israel and as long as it doesn’t give up on violence as a tool” (Haaretz, January 22, 2008).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We were pleased to read Mr. Frattini’s thoughtful remarks about Israel’s security predicament and the lack of understanding for it in Europe and we praise him for it. It has unfortunately been far too often the case that European leaders condemn Israel for doing nothing more than legitimately defending the lives of its citizens, often without their even mentioning the fact that Israel is under sustained terrorist attack from vicious organizations dedicated to its destruction.

“Mr. Frattini is particularly correct to note that European leaders have urged Israel for years to run major risks and to make massive concessions for peace, yet have then failed to support Israel when, after Israel has followed their advice, terror and bloodshed have befallen Israel from the very party to which it made the concessions. The fact is that Israel has given away all of Gaza, half of Judea and Samaria, and provided funds and weaponry to the Palestinian Arabs, only to receive suicide bombs and rockets in return.

“We hope that Mr. Frattini’s welcome statement is only the prelude to similar expressions and policies based on this understanding from European leaders and diplomats, rather than just an exceptional opinion held by an individual EU official. The fact that the Dutch Foreign Minister, Mr. Verhagen, also expressed the need for greater understanding for Israel and confirmed his refusal to deal with Hamas is welcome. We would urge other European leaders to review their policy towards Israeli self-defense measures, which are pin-pointed and painstaking in their efforts to avoid civilian casualties.”

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