'The Europeans have not kicked off the habit of labeling Jews,' transportation minister says
Photo: Alex Sandler
The European Commission's call to label products made in Jewish settlements has been condemned by Israeli spokespeople as a move driven by anti-Semitic sentiments.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz tweeted that the Europeans have not kicked off the habit of labeling Jews, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu muttered something similar. Good taste stopped them from going any further and comparing the labeling of settlement products to the tattooing of prisoners' arms at Nazi concentration camps. They should be praised for that.
The Israeli spokespeople found the decisive proof that the Europeans are driven by anti-Semitism in the uniqueness of the move. They argued that there were other countries which have taken over disputed territories, but that such sanctions had not been imposed on any of them. The most frequently mentioned country in this context is Morocco, whose actions can be compared to Israel's actions.
Op-ed: There are thousands of conflict areas worldwide, and hundreds of areas where EU doesn't recognize the sovereign government, yet Europe chooses to label products from one region only.
In 1975, Spain left Western Sahara, and the neighboring kingdom - which claimed that it used to control the territory in ancient times - occupied the desert area and settled tens of thousands of Moroccans there in order to change the demographic balance and perpetuate its rule. The half a million natives rebelled and were firmly oppressed. Not a single state in the world recognized the annexation, but no economic sanctions were imposed on Morocco.
The weakness of the "Moroccan argument" stems from the fact that there is already a movement demanding to right the wrong. Parliaments and courts in several European countries are discussing claims to segregate products imported from Western Sahara and to forbid Morocco to label them as its products.
Some of the continent's countries, led by Spain, are paying Morocco for the right to fish in Western Sahara's economic water, and now Norway and Switzerland are seeking to cancel custom reliefs given to importers of the fish oil produced from the fish caught in these waters. In Britain, food chains are being asked to label tomato paste produced by French and Moroccan companies in the occupied Moroccan territories.
The nature of this process is very similar to the one that ended with our punishment, and we can already predict the end of this process as well: Sooner or later, Morocco will be forced to label products imported from Western Sahara. When that happens, the discrimination argument will be dropped from Israel's repertoire of arguments.
If that is true, many countries have committed more serious wrongs. China took over Tibet, settled millions of Chinese there and annihilated its culture. Russia occupied Abkhazia from Georgia and encouraged a transfer of tens of thousands of its Georgian residents. The United States abused Cuba, organized an invasion of its territory and holds a military base on Cuban soil.
The world did not punish them. Israel is being punished not because its sins are the most serious, but because it can be punished - while world powers are immune.
One could argue that junior criminals should not be punished as long as the major hooligans are not tormented, and one could argue that any criminal who can be punished should be. The first approach guarantees complete injustice, and the second approach guarantees little justice. It's outrageous, but the reason for discrimination is not the Europeans' loathing of the Jews.
Some are trying to change that, including Dov Lior, the admired rabbi of Hebron's settlers. Last Saturday evening, the rabbi eulogized Rabbi Yaakov Litman and his son Netanel, who were murdered by a Palestinian terrorist near the settlement of Otniel.
He rejoiced over the massacre in Paris, explaining that the terror attacks in Europe were a punishment imposed by God for the Europeans' crimes towards the Jews. Minister Uri Ariel, who participated in the funeral, did not protest his rabbi's comment and called to multiply the settlements.
Their words will help fix the error in diagnosing the reasons for the animosity towards us. "Anti-Semitism," the shrewdest gentiles will say, "is hating Jews slightly more than we should."