By: Vyara Gylsen
Last week, the Israel lobby and the European Union report was launched, addressing the extent to which the Israel lobby is active at the EU level. The authors conceive of the transnational Zionist movement as a broader phenomenon that stands in need of serious analysis, but use the term Israel lobby as a short hand in this report to refer to that part of the movement that is active in EU policy making. The term Israel lobby in the report is used to refer to a range of think tanks, lobby groups, media related organisations and those that stand behind them in the Israeli government or in conservative foundations or other sources of funding aimed at shaping foreign policy in a pro- Israel direction. The report seeks to cast light on their activities, personnel and networks as well as how they are funded and whom precisely they represent.
The Israeli state and wider Israel lobby have diligently sought to divert attention away from Israel’s crimes. Lobbying in Brussels has become a billion dollar industry and influences, by some estimates, about 75 per cent of legislation, as opposed to the mere €11,000 funding for Pro Palestine lobbyists European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine based in Brussels, in 2012. The authors argue that the talking points for pro-Israel groups in Brussels are largely identical to those drawn up by Israeli ministries or embassies; and that they generally work in close cooperation with the Israeli state.
The report examines the following topics in its chapters: the two main ‘Friends of Israel’ groups, European Friends of Israel (EFI) and Friends of Israel Initiative (FII); organisations that have recently established branches in Brussels, including those that represent themselves as experts on terrorism; The EU’s close relationship with Israel; details the Israel lobby’s campaign to encourage the West to isolate, and at times even militarily attack, groups and states that resist Israel’s occupation of Palestine; and the lobby’s recent attempts to silence any criticism of Israel by claiming that its critics represent ‘the new anti-Semitism’.
The report illustrates that the Israel lobby appear to be increasingly nervous that the European Union will finally take some concrete measures against Israel. It evidences how the Israel lobby view boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) ‘a strategic threat’ and potentially an ‘existential threat’ because it delegitimises the state of Israel; and details that many of those who back Israel’s burgeoning Brussels lobby are also complicit in the expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements and the peddling of hate speech against Arabs and Muslims and fuelling Islamophobia.