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The Upgrade in EU-Israel Relations Voids the Substance of the International Legal System

Saturday 13 December 2008, by Sergio Yahni

On 6 December, Israeli settlers desecrated a Palestinian cemetary in Hebron during riots over the forced removal of settlers from a Palestinian home in the city. On the eve of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Union, through its decision to upgrade its relations with Israel, has, in essence, acted to void the international legal system created to prevent a repetition of the crimes committed during the 1940s on European lands: deportations, pogroms and unlawful executions.
Once again, Europe has decided punish the victim, the Palestinian people, and to gift Israel’s apartheid regime.

Upgrading relations with Israel is part of the European drift out of the international legal regime created in the wake of WWII. According to this legal regime, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights is illegal. In addition, Israel’s actions in those territories, such as the transfer of population, deportation, execution of political activists and the construction of a wall within the occupied territories, are illegal. This was plainly stated by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on June 9, 2004. Moreover, the ICJ also claims it is illegal for parties to the Geneva Covenants to cooperate with those actions.

Europe’s decision to upgrade its relations with the state of Israel and to award its apartheid regime is unsurprising. When Sarkozy’s policies aim to deport from France more “illegal” immigrants than the Vichy regime, when Berlusconi’s Italy fingerprints Gypsies and Eastern Europe criminalizes workers’ parties, we cannot expect from Europe but to condone deportations, pogroms and unlawful executions by Israel.

Europe has the pride that sixty years ago, millions of Europeans opposed the criminal policies of their governments and chose the path of the Maquis. Contrary to the many other Europeans, who opposed what happened back then but preferred the comforts of their daily life to protest, the Maquis refused to allow silence to render them accomplices.

It is important to remember that in Europe during the late 1930s and the early 1940s, there was not a single event that required the immediate taking up of arms. Some communists were arrested; some illegal immigrants were deported; but the crisis was over, the coffee shops were open and you could always see Marlene Dietrich in a theater. If you were lucky enough not to be a Gypsy, a Jewish illegal immigrant from Poland or a communist, you had nothing to fear. There were rumors about pogroms in Germany, but the financial interests of the European capitals cared more about profit and less about some Jewish shopkeepers in Berlin, or those illegal immigrants on the Polish German border.

Likewise, today there is no single event that requires the immediate taking up of arms, to get off the cozy couch in front of the TV and to choose the path of resistance. Of course, this is true only if you are lucky not to be a Latin American, African or Gypsy. There are rumors about more than a million people starving in the Gaza Strip under the Israeli blockade, and the news brings uneasy videos of pogroms in Acre and Hebron. Again, the financial needs of the European capitals and the strategic needs of the new/old wannabe imperial Europe are more important than the life of a Palestinian child or the fate of Palestinian shopkeeper.

Nevertheless, there is a big difference between the reality in the 1930s and the 1940s and the sad days we are living now. Back then, there was a communist cadre that despite their leadership, could tell good from wrong. Today, what remains of the communist parties adjusts to Islamophobic Europe and hesitates on Israel’s apartheid.

There is no more room for hesitation, for abstract dreams about peace and coexistence. Are you for apartheid or are you against it? Are you ready to defend Latins, Africans and Gypsies or do you prefer to look away when the immigration police hunt them down in your neighborhood? Do you accept Islamophobia as a lesser evil?

Maybe it is not yet the time for the Maquis and winters in the mountains, but we are witness to the collapse of the world created after World War II. We have to mobilize now and say to the European governments “Never Again!”

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