Monitoring Report May 2017

Germany visits friends - About Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel’s visit to Israel

A turbulent time in German-Israeli relationships is currently playing out before our eyes. And it is once again the double-standard that is continuously imposed upon Israel that is the cause of the turbulence. The current tension between the two allies is a result of the cancellation of a meeting planned between Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of Israel’s government and Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s Foreign Minister. The meeting was cancelled by Benjamin Netanyahu himself, which caused great consternation in the German political scene and in the media. In order to understand why he made the decision to put the highest diplomat of one of his closest allies in his place so publically, one has to view the situation in a broader context.

Tensions in the relationship

On December 23, 2016, the UN-Security Council passed Resolution 2334, which declared settlements in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to be illegal according to international law.  By abstaining from the vote, the USA allowed the Counsel to pass this strongly Israel-critical resolution – in essence approving it. Thus, in its last days in power, the Obama Administration again released a diplomatic inferno over Israel. In Israel, the resolution was thoroughly rejected by all parties of all colors. Benjamin Netanyahu described it as an “historic mistake”. 

A month later, at the Peace Conference in Paris, Germany, represented by Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Foreign Minister at the time, identified itself with the International Community and in essence gave full support to Resolution 2334 by signing the final protocol of the summit. Then, in February 2017, the German Government cancelled the annual Government Consultation Meetings planned for May because of “scheduling difficulties”. Behind the scenes, the stubborn rumor prevailed that the cancellation was really due to the German rejection of Israel’s settlement policy.

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Monitoring Report April 2017

The Israelization of anti-Semitism
Growing anti-Semitism in Europe and Germany’s special responsibility

Anti-Semitism in Europe is growing. In a working meeting in the German Parliament organized by the “Initiative 27 Januar” i, the EU Anti-Semitism Commissioner, Katharina von Schnurbein, pointed out that, in some countries, such as France and Great Britain, for example, incidents carried out against Jews increased by as much as 36% last year. And yet, parallel to this shocking phenomenon, efforts on the part of state and civil organizations to better study  and understand modern anti-Semitism with the goal of limiting and even reversing it are on the increase. A clear definition of anti-Semitism is indispensable to achieving this goal.

What exactly do we understand when we hear the term Anti-Semitism?

The article by Andrew Baker ii of the American Jewish Committee, a globally active Jewish organization, gives a good historical overview of the efforts to establish a working definition of modern anti-Semitism that is recognized on government levels and practically implemented. The Committee’s efforts in this regard have been commendable. After working out and partially implementing a definition at the EU-level – and the subsequent revocation of the same – 31 member states of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) agreed on a working definition of anti-Semitism at their conference in May 2016 in Bucharest. The definition includes illustrations of how modern anti-Semitism is, or might be, manifested. It is worthy of note iii  that 7 of the 11 illustrations relate directly to the Jewish state of Israel - experts speak of the anti-Zionist form of anti-Semitism or of the Israelization of anti-Semitism iv.

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Monitoring Report March 2017

Remapping the world

As stormy as the year 2016 ended for world politics and Israel, it doesn’t look like the storm will abate going into 2017 - at least at this point in time. In a desperate, last-ditch closing act, the Obama Administration invested great effort in the attempt to chisel its foreign policy convictions regarding the Middle East peace process in stone – thereby bypassing the will of the American people and the democratically elected US-Congress. To do that, Obama used the same back-road detour he used to push the Iran deal through, the UN Security Council. UNSC resolution 2334 established one single guilty party for the lack of peace – the State of Israel and Israeli settlements in Judea, Samaria and in East Jerusalem. The resolution declared the settlements to be “illegal according to international law” – a step that drew sharp criticism across the political spectrum in Israel as well as from the newly elected, but not yet sworn-in President-elect Donald Trump. The USA withholding its veto and simply abstaining in this vote marked a significant shift in American policy and position up to that point.  (http://www.unwatch.org/joining-jackals-open-letter-amb-samantha-power/)

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