Allow me to present the following scenario: In contradiction to all the pessimistic predictions, Israel and the Palestinians are able to successfully conclude negotiations on a final-status agreement, among other things based to incentives provided by the European Union. In the final stages of negotiations, Israeli representatives cave in to international pressure and waive the demand to recognize Israel’s unique Jewish character.
A short while after the agreement is signed, an uprising breaks out in the Galilee, in the Triangle area, and in the southern Negev desert, with Arab Israelis demanding a cultural and political autonomy that would enable them to manage their own lives while disconnecting from the State of Israel’s “Jewish” institutions.
The bloody clashes between the sides prompt the United Nations to call on Israel to restrain itself and consider the deployment of multinational forces to serve as a buffer. The European Union threatens to renounce Israel’s special status if it fails to act immediately in order to meet the demands of the minority living within it. Israel’s dependence on the EU is so great that it is forced to capitulate and turn into a “greater Tel Aviv” shtetl.
Is this horrific scenario completely imaginary, or is it taking shape right before our eyes? The conduct displayed by the international community, and particularly by the EU, on the issue of Kosovo’s independence should worry Israel. Kosovo’s declaration of independence has indeed been postponed, yet with every further delay certainty grows that sooner or later Kosovo will become an independent state with the West’s sweeping support.
This will create a dangerous precedent whereby the international community backs the right of an ethnic minority to undermine the sovereignty of a recognized state. At the same time, it is interesting to follow the West’s hypocrisy on another burning issue: Europe and the United States continue to turn a blind eye while the Kurds are being oppressed, now in Iraqi territory as well, while rejecting the Kurdish right for self-determination in their own country.
Interference in our domestic affairs
The conclusion is that everything starts and ends with interests, rather than principles. The US and most Western countries wish to weaken Serbia, which is Russia’s traditional ally, and therefore Kosovo’s struggle for independence enjoys full support. The US and most western countries do not wish to anger Turkey too much, and therefore they remain silent while Turkey pounds the Kurds. Would you like to guess who the West, and particularly Europe, will be supporting should Israel find itself facing an ethnic uprising by its Arab citizens?
A sign of things to come can already be seen in the contacts being undertaken between Israel and the EU regarding upgraded ties that would grant Israel special status. Israel has no doubt many reasons to be pleased with the growing cooperation with the EU in many areas: Commerce, science, technology, aviation, and more. The Europeans, by the way, have just as many reasons to enjoy the cooperation with Israel, for example in the areas of science and technology.
Yet in the framework of negotiations between the sides, the Europeans are also taking the liberty to raise very problematic issues, such as minority rights in Israel. Doesn’t this constitute interference in Israel’s domestic affairs? On their part, the Israelis raised the issue of anti-Semitism in Europe, says a senior EU official in response to this question. Is this the proper comparison?
Perhaps it would be better to prepare in advance and make it clear to the Europeans now already what the limits of their interference should be, before they recognize the Galilee’s independence.