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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Just when you thought Europe couldn't possibly stoop any lower....

Just when you thought that the Europeans could not possibly stoop any lower... they have.
Andrei Sakharov must be spinning in his grave. The European Parliament's prestigious human rights award, named after the great Soviet dissident, is now being used to stigmatize the Jewish state. Among the three nominees short-listed for this year's Sakharov Prize, the winner of which will be named tomorrow, is the Israeli group "Breaking the Silence," which purports to uncover abuses by the military in Palestinian territories.
In case that wasn't enough to tip you off that the Journal doesn't approve of 'Breaking the Silence' winning the award (you just know they're going to win), here's more:
The real insult is that an award meant to honor those who fight "intolerance, fanaticism and oppression" is being considered for activists operating in one of the world's most vibrant democracies. By putting Israel in the same category with oppressive countries such as Ethiopia and Cuba, from which the other two short-listed nominees come, Europe's law makers have again discredited themselves while trying to delegitimize Israel.

"Like Andrei Sakharov himself," the European Parliament's website explains, all the [past] winners of the prize have shown how much courage it takes to defend human rights and freedom of expression." But the biggest threat Israeli activists face is a sunburn from those long meetings at Tel Aviv cafes. Despite its name, there is no "silence" to break. Israel is a noisy liberal democracy in which sitting prime ministers are investigated on corruption charges, a supreme court rules on behalf of Palestinian petitioners against the Israeli government, and a strong press routinely criticizes the government and military.
Here in Israel, Professor Gerald Steinberg at NGO Monitor is also infuriated by the European action.
"BtS is a fringe Israeli political group funded by European governments, and this nomination is immoral and a gross abuse of the principles of human rights and freedom of expression," said Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor.

"Israel has one of the most open and vibrant democratic societies in the world. The members of this group do not promote human rights among Israelis and their audience is the international chorus seeking to demonize Israel and its defense against terror," he said.

He continued: "Unfortunately, this is yet another example of European manipulation of Israeli political advocacy NGOs through secret funding. Last month the EU Parliament held a debate regarding a bill in the Israeli Knesset that would require NGO funding transparency. European officials should support transparency, rather than promoting anti-democratic processes."
How low is Europe stooping by making 'Breaking the Silence' a finalist for a prize named after Sakharov? Sakharov's widow, Elena Bonner, spoke at the Oslo Freedom Forum in June 2009. Here's some of what she had to say:
So it is about Israel and the Jews that I will speak. And not only because I am Jewish, but above all because the Middle Eastern conflict since the end of World War II has been a platform for political games and gambling by the great powers, the Arab countries and individual politicians, striving, through the so-called "peace process," to make a name for themselves, and perhaps win a Nobel Peace Prize. At one time, the Nobel Peace Prize was the highest moral award of our civilization. But after December 1994, when Yasser Arafat became one of the three new laureates, its ethical value was undermined. I haven't always greeted each selection of the Nobel Committee of the Storting [Norwegian parliament] with joy, but that one shocked me. And to this day, I cannot understand and accept the fact that Andrei Sakharov and Yasser Arafat, now posthumously, share membership in the club of Nobel laureates.

In many of Sakharov's publications (in his books Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom and My Country and the World, in his articles and in his interviews), Andrei Dmitrievich wrote and spoke about Israel. I have a collection of citations of his writing on this topic. If it were published in Norway, then many Norwegians would be surprised at how sharply their contemporary view of Israel differs from the view of Sakharov.

Here are several citations from Sakharov: "Israel has an indisputable right to exist"; "Israel has a right to existence within safe borders"; "All wars that Israel has waged have been just, forced upon it by the irresponsibility of Arab leaders"; "With all the money that has been invested in the problem of Palestinians, it would have been possible long ago to resettle them and provide them with good lives in Arab countries."

Throughout the years of Israel's existence there has been war. Victorious wars, and also wars which Israel was not allowed to win. Each and every day--literally every day--there is the expectation of a terrorist act or a new war. We have seen the Oslo peace initiatives and the Camp David handshake and the road map and land for peace (there is not much land--from one side of Israel on a clear day you can see the other side with your naked eye).

Now, a new motif is fashionable (in fact it's an old one): "Two states for two peoples." It sounds good. And there is no controversy in the peacemaking Quartet, made up of the US, the UN, the EU and Russia (some great peacemaker, with its Chechen war and its Abkhazian-Ossetian provocation). The Quartet, and the Arab countries, and the Palestinian leaders (both Hamas and Fatah) put additional demands to Israel.
There's much more, so read the whole thing. It will help you to understand the extent to which the Europeans have besmirched Sakharov's memory with this nomination.

2 Comments:

At 1:40 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

They can't help themselves... bashing Israel makes Europe feel good. One day, they will get their richly deserved comeuppance!

 
At 1:23 PM, Blogger Jerry Haber said...

Ha, the joke's on you! Europe gave the prize to the Cuban dissident. So is Europe kosher or not? If you say no, then you support Castro. If you say yes, then you support the shortlisting of Breaking the Silence.

I suppose you can say that Europe is confused...it's tough when things aren't black and white, right?

As for the WSJ' publication of the Israel hasbara puff, see

http://972mag.com/why-%E2%80%9Cbreaking-the-silence%E2%80%9D-is-short-listed-for-the-sakharov-prize-by-jeremiah-haber/

 

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