In the course of just a few days, an Italian parliamentarian launches an anti-BDS initiative, a Swedish MEP rails against the anti-Israel European Union stance, and a Greek government minister is forced to resign for sounding anti-Semitic remarks.
In a recent debate in the European Parliament about the EU's role in the Israel-PA diplomatic process, member Lars Adaktusson from Sweden took a surprisingly objective position: ‘’The only liberal democracy in the Middle East [Israel] will never be a bigger problem than the evil dictatorships and terrorist groups in the surrounding region.’’
European Jewish Press reports that at one point, Adaktusson addressed those who "blame Israel for the non-existent negotiation talks [and] those who pave the way for an EU boycott of Israeli products and those who name Israel an apartheid state," and said: "By doing this, you are not contributing to a constructive EU role in the current situation. A trustful relationship is based upon mutual confidence and trust. A one-sided EU position will not facilitate peace dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.‘’
He said that damage has already been caused: "I fear that the preconceptions we have seen over the years have already damaged the credibility of the EU. Israelis have noted the spread of anti-Israeli sentiments and anti-Semites in Europe. This needs to be confronted.’’
Another Member of the European Parliament, Fulvio Martusciello of Italy, has written that he plans to initiate, with supporters from other EU political groupings, the creation of a legal tool against boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) movements. "This initiative will take the form of a formal parliamentary resolution, based upon current French legislation that already outlaws many types of BDS,'' he wrote in an op-ed published in London's Jewish News.
Martusciello chairs the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with Israel. A member of the European People’s Party (EPP), the largest in the European Parliament, he wrote that the resolution ‘’will need to be widely supported by all of those committed to the EU-Israel relationship."
Martusciello expressed grave concern about the constant calls in Europe for economic, academic and other boycotts of Israel, as well as the threats of legal suits against Israeli leaders for "criminal acts," and of course the recent drive to label all Israeli products from Judea, Samaria and the Golan so that consumers can "choose" whether or not to buy them. "I hope that all UK supporters of Israel will lobby their MEPs to support my counter-boycott initiative,’’ he wrote.
Many of his colleagues in the European Parliament share his ideas, he wrote, but are blocked by their political groups' positions. "We can no longer accept some principles that are jeopardizing EU-Israel relations, such as... always taking a unilateral critical voice against Israel, [something] that is not shared by many politicians in Europe."
Finally, Dimitris Kammenos of Greece has been forced to resign his position as Deputy Minister for Infrastructure and Transport after expressing several grossly anti-Semitic sentiments. "Until the truth is clarified on anti-Semitic and racist posts, the Deputy Minister will facilitate [the matter] with his resignation," the leader of the Independent Greeks party said.
Among his offenses, Kammenos posted a doctored picture of the gate to Auschwitz on his Facebook page, replacing the words "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Sets You Free) with "We Stay in Europe". He thus sought to mock Greek pro-EU demonstrators. In addition, he implied that Jews were involved in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks when he said, "Let's not forget that among the 2,500 Jews working at the Twin Towers, not one went to work that day."