How predictable that Europe would declare a trade war on Israel
How predictable that Europe would declare a trade war on Israel

The vision of King Solomon, rear-looking and futuristic, summits many peaks, none higher than verse 9 of Ecclesiastes, proclaiming a triplet of sublime truths. “Whatever has been will be. And whatever has been done will be done. There is nothing new beneath the sun.” It could well be the Jewish problem occupying King Solomon’s great mind. Whatever was done to Abraham and his circumcised clan in formative days is being done, forty hundred years later, in ours. 

No, nothing is new, and ‘what goes around comes around’ is the bland idiom on which we draw for sense or hope or despair, and mostly get what we need. How predictable was it that one far-off day a bloc of countries would declare a trade war on Israel? Is it the Jewish problem all over again? 

According to prototypes in scripture it may be. The self-defeating spite and malice narrated in Genesis have eerie parallels today. /Articles/Article.aspx/24838

And who was it borrowed a strategy out of the Book of Numbers for their modus operandi? By instinct or design what world movement latched onto a cunning insight of the owner of a donkey with a Hebrew tongue? Who else but the boycott movement! BDS took a leaf out of Balaam’s book and ran with it. How the wily wizard thought, the path his mind took, is practically the boycotters manual. Since war after war had left Israel more invincible than before, a non-military assault might be worth a try. Thus began a war of words. Weaponize bad PR; condemn and demonize Israel in forums and media, on campuses and cable networks; harness kangaroo courts; haul Human Rights protectors with their fake halo brand onto the bandwagon; turn the Jews into a pariah people; infuse and unite the world with rank loathing for Zionists. /Articles/Article.aspx/24168

In keeping with the bible, the hopes of BDS fell painfully short. Appetites cloyed by getting nowhere as the devil’s advocate were diminished further by Israel’s burgeoning development. The idea of stalling the mini juggernaut did no more than tantalize taste buds. 

This was before a knight on white steed sprang from Europe, brandishing a weapon purpose-made: a court of law answerable to Eurocrats who, in common with BDS, have a problem with Israel. Brussels-domiciled, they looked to Cambridge Professor James Crawford to give the initial nod. “There do not appear to be any European Commission laws which could be breached by a member state taking the decision to ban the import of settlement produce.” 

You may go for the end game, Crawford effectively told Eurocrats. Ban products made by Jews conducting their business in forbidden territory. Make the opportunistic upstarts pay for spoiling the joker card, the ‘Two-State Delusion.’ Europe, it is common knowledge, wants the territory for perpetual rulers on the lookout for holy war. Israel, on the lookout for holy peace, is making life difficult for Europe teeming with migrants on the lookout for making Jews run the gauntlet. 

With the end game in mind – an outright ban on products made by undesirables – Brussels chose a gradual game of petty rules for labeling goods. After Crawford’s legal opinion in 2012 the European Court of Justice waited for 2019 to fire the opening salvo. If products originate in Jewish-held parts of ‘Palestine’ then labels must convey the fact. Consumers have a right to make ‘informed choices’ when they shop. Of course they do.  

Trade policy to bring a targeted country to heel is the art of manipulating commercial means for political ends. Sanctions lie at the polar end of trade policy. Call them ‘hard diplomacy’ they are a clear expression of intention. We’re told that the object of sanctions on Iran is to prevent it going nuclear.   On the other hand trade policy can be a ‘soft’ instrument for the purpose of hiding the real motive. We’re told that label regulations are meant to protect shoppers. In reality they could be a trade ban in a velvet glove. It is more than likely that Brussels anticipates petty rules to conceive a major boycott. In all probability they will. The latest communiqué drips with concealment. “The EU insists that products made in the settlements must not carry the generic ‘Made in Israel’ tag, and wants them to be easily identifiable to shoppers.”

What is the label if not a new type of yellow badge? Agreed – Jews are not made to wear it. Nor are they objectified as Jude or Juif or Jood. What it does is compel Jews, if they want to trade with Europe, to concede that their products are downright suspicious. Thin-skinned importers will cost in subterfuge logistics, legal risk, reputational harm, picket mobs, threats. They’ll do the math. Better not stock Israeli goods at all.   

 Martin Schulz, ex President of the European Union, warned Israel that Europe will have its way. “There is enormous pressure, also in the European Parliament, to label products because a lot of my colleagues consider the settlements illegal. They think the rule should be that products coming from regions with an illegal status couldn’t have normal access to the European market.”

A cauldron of support and protest. Lies of consummate cunning, bold from knowing that the UN General Assembly already passed how many resolutions condemning Jewish settlements as a violation of the Geneva Convention? Better not buy from Israel at all.  Kauft nicht bei Juden – ‘Don’t buy from Jews’ – became, ‘Made in the Occupied Palestinian Territories’ which violates no law because the territories are on a wishful bucket list.          

People connect the yellow boycott badge with the Holocaust. In point of fact it predates Nazi Europe by a thousand years and more. Already in medieval times it was mandatory for Jews to identify themselves. This opened up opportunities galore. Treat the killers of Christ like pestilence; isolate them; deprive or deport them; declare open season on Jews. Let mobs with an axe to grind, grind it on Jews. 

Now that cultural norms bow to ‘Diversity’, you’d think that identification tags would be items for the collector? Not at all. Physically separating Jews might be a thing of the past, but the eternal obsession to quarantine them seems to have lost none of its power. Our global village may not be the medieval hamlet, but the hallmarks of the yellow badge are there. Borne not worn, labels are the modern equivalent. ‘Jewish-made’ comes in for Jewish born. Be it wine or cosmetics, tech or soda, accommodation or chocolate, if Jewish exporters are domiciled in forbidden territory they become the new targets of old hatreds. Boycotted by stores, besieged by mobs, shunned by shoppers, products have to carry a warning label – e.g., ‘Made in the Occupied West Bank.’ As consumers are warned off booze and cigarettes, now they’re warned off the deleterious effects of buying from militant, oppressive Jews offering their suspect wares. 

The Human Rights Commission, never missing an anti-Semitic heart beat, went out on a limb of its own. In February 2020 it came out with a blacklist of companies daring to conduct business from Jewish settlements.   Don’t support the Jews, the Commissioner is effectively warning companies.     

How do we really know that the trade war is not about ‘occupied’ territory? How do we know it is really about prospering Jews? There are three giveaways. One is the bald-faced lie that supports the ruling of the European Court of Justice: “Settlements give concrete expression to a policy of population transfer conducted by a State outside its territory, in violation of the rules of general international humanitarian law." 

Now Article 49, where these rules are laid out in the Fourth Geneva Convention, was framed to stop the mass transfer of Germans into territory captured by Nazi forces in WWII. The rules did not have future Israelis in mind. They, freely and independently, without force or dictate, chose to set up home or factory in Judea and Samaria. How in any case do you colonize a territory belonging to you by dint of law and history? What is in violation is the trashing by Europe of international trade law and treaties. 

A second give-sway came to the notice of Eugene Kontorovich, a professor at George Mason University School of Law and head of the Center for International Law in the Middle East. About the European court ruling Kontorovich said, 

“Jewish products are the only ones to have to bear special labels based on their origin. (The ruling) also shows it’s not about the Palestinians. In the Golan Heights there are no Palestinians, nor discussion of a Palestinian state. Yet the Europeans imposed the same rule. And we know it’s not about occupation because they don’t apply the rule in any occupied territory anywhere (else) in the world.” 

A third give-away is the mendacious title chanted by anti-Semites like a mantra: ‘Occupied Palestinian Territory’ or ‘OPT. This is nothing more than a battle cry. OPT being a standard for the UN General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Commission and the UN backed International Court of Justice (ICJ) is telling in and of itself. You have to mangle law into propaganda to apply it to land that Israel took off Jordan and Egypt in the Six Day War.

It is prophecy in motion to find lawmen making up law on behalf of green with envy Eurocrats and dark with hatred diplomats. It really is a case of “nothing is new beneath the sun” when Professor Crawford fills a seat on the pro-Palestinian advocacy court, ICJ. 

Jewish blood was, and always will be, grist to the mill of twisted lawmen touting snake oil laws. 

King Solomon had 20/20 prophetic vision all right. 

Steve Apfel is an economist, Cost Acct and Author. Fiction: The Paymaster, 1998; Balaam’s curse’ (WIP). Non-fiction: Hadrian’s Echo: The whys and wherefores of Israel’s critics,  2012; War by other means. Contr. to Israel Affairs, 2012. A bias thicker than faith.’ Pub. ready.  Commissioned essays: “A bias thicker than faith”;  Is the New York Times motto for real?