The West’s policies on Palestine can be divided into two broad categories: the mindless and the misleading.
By deciding to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Donald Trump has behaved in a mindless manner. The most plausible explanation for why the US president did so is that acting like a pyromaniac endears him to his pro-Israel campaign bankroller Sheldon Adelson and to an extremist – mainly Christian – constituency.
Despite his propensity for telling lies, Trump has been more honest on this particular dossier than the European Union and its robotic representatives. They claim to be pursuing peace and a two-state solution, while aiding Israeli authorities that have no interest in either objective.
Scientific research has been accorded a high priority in cooperation between Israel and the EU. Israel is an active participant in Horizon 2020, an EU scheme aimed at encouraging innovation, which has been earmarked almost $100 billion over a seven-year period.
I have trawled through around 700 projects financed under the scheme and involving Israel. They exemplify how signals given by the EU have been hugely misleading.
Back in 2013, Israel accused the Union of causing an “earthquake,” according to the Tel Aviv daily Haaretz. The Israeli political elite was peeved by guidelines prepared for Horizon 2020, indicating that Israeli firms or institutions based in the occupied West Bank – including East Jerusalem – would not be eligible for its grants.
The publication of those guidelines was not the seismic event that Haaretz hyped it up to be.
They had been drafted after Brussels officials had been informed that some recipients of EU grants were less than transparent – to put it mildly.
The Israel Antiquities Authority took part in the Union’s previous science program, even though its headquarters were located in occupied East Jerusalem. It had supplied a post office box inside Israel as its address, when applying for an EU grant.
The Israel Antiquities Authority has not been punished for that trickery. It is now taking part in a $5 million heritage preservation project under Horizon 2020.
The address given for the authority on the website for that project is the Rockefeller Museum. That building is in East Jerusalem.
A little-noticed loophole in the EU’s 2013 guidelines allow Israeli public bodies to benefit from Horizon 2020 regardless of where they are located.
An announcement by the Israel Antiquities Authority that it is moving offices to West Jerusalem does not atone for its role in dispossessing Palestinians.
The authority has been overseeing excavations as part of plans to develop an archeological park in Silwan, an East Jerusalem neighborhood. While doing so, it has formed a partnership with Elad, an Israeli settler organization that drives Palestinians out of their homes.
The European Commission – which administers Horizon 2020 – tried to justify the way it is bending over backwards to please Israel.
A spokesperson for the Commission stated that it was “constantly making sure every rule is respected,” when I requested a comment. That is a flimsy and formulaic excuse for its complicity in the colonization of Jerusalem.
A number of other Israeli bodies active in East Jerusalem have been awarded grants under Horizon 2020.
Israel’s science ministry – based in East Jerusalem – has signed up to EU projects on diet and gender equality.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, meanwhile, is likely to preserve its status as Israel’s top participant in EU research activities.
Of the 700 projects I examined, Hebrew University was involved in more than 80. Some of the subsidies bestowed on the college amount to almost $2.5 million each.
Hebrew University is run from Mount Scopus in East Jerusalem. The EU regards that as acceptable because Mount Scopus was commandeered by Zionist forces in 1948, rather than during the June 1967 war (when Israel nabbed the remainder of East Jerusalem).
The EU’s spurious stance ignores how Hebrew University has been encroaching into territory seized in 1967 and how it enthusiastically supports Israel’s forces of occupation.
Several Israeli bodies implicated in human rights violations benefit from the EU’s largesse.
The Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality has placed something of a chokehold around Palestinian neighborhoods. The procedures it has introduced make Palestinian construction virtually impossible, while favoring colonization by Israelis.
The list of ways in which the municipality contributes to Israeli apartheid has just got longer. It is seeking to block residents of two Palestinian villages – al-Walaja and Battir – from reaching a spring that has provided their communities with water for 3,000 years.
With sordid irony, the EU has approved the municipality’s participation in a sustainable cities initiative, also worth $5 million.
Israel’s public security ministry oversees a prison service which regularly subjects Palestinians to torture.
Gilad Erdan, the current Israeli minister for public security, has given the nod – at least tacitly – to a provocative shift in policing. The result is that police are openly siding with activists wishing to take over and destroy Islamic holy sites at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound so that they can build a Jewish temple.
Erdan’s attempts to tighten Israel’s grip on East Jerusalem have not deterred the EU from embracing him. The public security ministry is involved in EU research projects on border surveillance, interrogation techniques and searching the internet for “terrorist” content.
Israel’s national water company Mekorot is an environmental hooligan. UN investigators have documented how it imperils Palestinians’ right to water by drying up wells and springs in the West Bank.
Shamefully, the EU is enabling Mekorot to cultivate a more responsible image by taking part in Horizon 2020 activities on the protection of water infrastructure and reducing pollution.
Firms that help to impose a siege on Gaza are equally welcome in Horizon 2020.
The state-owned Israel Electric Corporation cut power supplies to Gaza’s hospitals drastically last year, thereby placing the lives of patients in danger. The same corporation is involved in EU projects on information technology.
Israel’s weapons industry also benefits from Horizon 2020.
Elbit, the supplier of drones, white phosphorus and other munitions used during major Israeli assaults on Gaza, has been allocated an EU subsidy worth $860,000 to help it develop new cockpit components for future aircraft. The stated aim of this work is to advance a cuddly-sounding initiative called Clean Sky.
A profiteer from war crimes is thereby helped to masquerade as a savior of the planet. And the EU can keep on kidding itself that everything is fine and dandy.
•First published by The Electronic Intifada, 17 March 2018.