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Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

Bulgaria: Hezbollah Did Not Blow Up the Airport Bus

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Bulgaria has officially backed down on Wednesday from the charges it made only a few months ago, that the deadly Burgas airport bombing of a bus carrying Israeli tourists, July 18, 2012, was done by agents of Hezbollah. Five Israelis and one Bulgarian national were killed in the blast.

And in the process of dropping the ball, the Bulgarians have left a brave, conservative British government to its own devices, in the midst of their drive to get the EU to blacklist the Shi’ite terrorists.

On February 5, 2013, the Bulgarian interior minister said, referring to two suspects in the attack, that a “reasonable assumption, I repeat a reasonable assumption, can be made that the two of them were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah.”

They had Canadian and Australian passports and they lived in Lebanon. According to the Europol, DNA evidence left on SIM cards helped investigators to conclude that Hezbollah was indeed behind the bus bomb attack in Burgas.

What happened? A new government happened.

After months of a political impasse, on May 28 Bulgaria was endowed with a new, Socialist-led government, which won a parliamentary vote of confidence, even though it relies on a minority coalition in parliament. This means that the new government of the European Union’s poorest country will be helpless to steer the economy in new directions, or at all, and to attract investment.

The Socialist party in Bulgaria is, really, the leftover bosses from the old Communist regime but with better PR. The former governing party, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, was more pro-American. The country’s stalement—still unresolved—has lasted since the February vote.

The minority government received 119 votes in favor and 98 against. It is backed by the Socialists and their ethnic Turkish MRF allies, and it is led by Plamen Oresharski, 53, a non-partisan former finance minister.

“The evidence is not categorical” that Hezbollah planned the attack, said Bulgaria’s brand new foreign minister, Kristian Vigenin, said on Wednesday in an interview with Bulgarian National Radio.

He said it while a European Commission is debating whether to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, even as the Hezbollah is sending expedition forces into Syria, in support of the embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

France and Germany have joined Britain in calling for Hezbollah’s ouster from the civilized world. Britain formally submitted the Bulgarians’ own evidence of Hezbollah’s involvement in the airport bombing, coupled with the March conviction of a Hezbollah agent operating in Cyprus of plotting another attack there.

Back in February, correspondent Borzou Daragahi, working for the London-based Middle East and North Africa, apologized for suggesting that Israel bribed Bulgaria to framed Hezbollah. “Sincere apologies and regret for ill-conceived tweet yesterday about Israel and Bulgaria,” Daragahi tweeted.

The previous day, Daragahi had tweeted, “I don’t doubt Hezbollah/Iran could be behind Bulgaria bombing, but also think Israel could pay Sofia to say anything.”

Michael Freund wrote in The Jewish Press last February:

E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, whose pitiful response to the Bulgarian probe was to counsel “reflection.

“We have to reflect on the consequences,” she told a press conference this past Tuesday, “we have to consult and come back.”

Ashton could not bring herself to even mouth the word “Hizbollah,” let alone utter a condemnation for its wanton brutality.

This reporter is known for mixing his private views and speculations with his news reporting, but for once I don’t see a need to speculate wildly. There appears to be a struggle within the EU over one of the vilest organizations in the world, an ally and a partner of two repressive, murderous regimes – and just last night, the supporters of that vile organization inside the EU managed to move the goal posts several yards on the decent folks who were trying to ostracize it.

Germany in Lockstep with EU on Labeling ‘Settlement’ Imports

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

The deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister of the Republic of Ireland Eamon Gilmore declared in early May that goods from “Israeli settlements in the West Bank” should be treated as illegal. The Labor Party politician declared that Ireland would strongly support a European Union initiative to label exports from Israeli producers in the Palestinian state to give consumers the choice of whether they want to buy them. He said this was “in effect” like boycotting the goods.

Now, according to Israel’s Army Radio, Germany, too, has thrown its support in favor of the labeling plan. An official German government document states that “products should be labeled ‘Made in Israel’ only if they are manufactured within the 1967 borders.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who’s the de facto foreign minister until MK Avigdor Liberman is done with his court case, told the Army radio: “We will fight. We will deal with this phenomenon,” reminding listeners that “at one time, the UN decided that Zionism is racism — but we didn’t say that that was a lost cause.”

This might mean that Elkin already knows it’s a done deal, and that everything coming out of Judea and Samaria will be receiving the seal of condemnation.

Goods produced in Judea and Samaria are not eligible for the same preferential tariffs enjoyed by Israeli exports to the EU. According to 2012 World Bank figures, the EU imports $300 million worth of goods a year from Israeli settlements, roughly 15 times more than from the Palestinians. But that’s where things become interesting:

It turns out the goods coming out of Jewish settlements, provide wages to local Arabs, who earn more working for the “damnable” Jews than they could average working for an Arab business.

The Israel-based corporation SodaStream, which produces a home beverage carbonation system, has 13 production facilities worldwide, three of which are located in Israel and the dreaded “West Bank,” employing 1,100 people as of 2012.

SodaStream’s principal manufacturing facility is located in Mishor Adumim – the industrial area of the Judea town of Maale Adumim. This factory employs some 900 Arabs, half of whom live in the Palestinian Authority, from Jericho to Ramallah, the other half are residents of annexed East Jerusalem.

So that, when the EU, in its attempt to help the Arabs living in the PA, is making it tougher for SodaStream products to sell in Europe – who suffers? That’s right, the Arabs living in the PA.

Why Doesn’t the EU Condemn PA Torture?

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

The E.U. has refrained from condemning the Palestinian Authority or Hamas in wake of a report that pointed to an increase in human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

This is the same E.U. that regularly condemns Israel for building in the settlements or seizing funds belonging to the Palestinian Authority.

More recently, the E.U. condemned Israel for demolishing 22 Palestinian structures in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

But when it comes to human rights violations committed by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, the E.U. is prepared to do its utmost to avoid angering the two Palestinian governments.

In response to the report, which was released by the Palestinian Independent Commission For Human Rights, the E.U. missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah, in an apologetic tone, only expressed “concern” over recurrent cases of torture and ill treatment of detainees in Palestinian prisons.

And instead of criticizing or condemning Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for human rights violations perpetrated by his security forces, the E.U. missions chose to “welcome” his instruction to respect the prohibition of torture in his detention centers and prisons.

It is worth noting that the E.U. and some Abbas loyalists, including Fatah propagandists and media outlets, were the only ones to “welcome” his decision to ban torture.

So not only is Abbas not condemned for the death of two detainees in his prisons and the crackdown on freedoms of speech and the media, he is in fact being praised by the E.U. for ordering his security and intelligence officers to stop torturing Palestinians.

One would have expected the E.U. to take a tougher stance toward the Palestinian Authority and Hamas human rights violations, as indicated by the report.

But the E.U. missions to Ramallah and Jerusalem are apparently reluctant to take such a position because of their direct and indirect involvement in funding and supporting the Palestinian Authority and various Palestinian institutions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The E.U. also seems to be afraid of criticizing the Palestinian Authority and Hamas out of concern for the safety of its representatives, especially those who operate in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

As the human rights group’s report shows, there has been a 10% increase in the number of complaints of torture and mistreatment by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority during 2012 compared with the year before.

More than half of the 306 complaints about torture that were received last year came from Palestinians who had been detained or imprisoned by Abbas’s security forces in the West Bank, the report revealed.

Altogether, 11 detainees died in Palestinian Authority and Hamas prisons last year, according to the report.

Still, the E.U. did not see any need to refer to these cases. Nor did the E.U. comment on the report’s accusations that Abbas’s security forces are continuing to crack down on journalists and academics and ignore court rulings.

Expressing “concern” over serious human rights violations will not deter the Palestinian Authority or Hamas from pursuing their anti-democratic practices against their own people.

Praising Abbas for instructing his security forces to stop torturing Palestinian detainees is like welcoming a convicted armed robber’s promise to retire.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

The European Revolt Against the EU

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

“This wave of protest certainly is not short-term – it is lasting,” Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) said last Thursday, after his party became the third largest party in the British local elections. UKIP is a party that wants to take Britain out of the European Union.

All over Europe, the popularity of the E.U., the supranational organization of 27 European nations, is plummeting. A recent poll conducted by Eurobarometer, the E.U.’s polling organization, in the six major E.U. countries, found that public confidence in the E.U. has fallen to the lowest level ever. Since May 2007, distrust of the E.U. in Poland rose from 18 to 42 percent, in Italy from 28 to 53 percent, in France from 41 to 56 percent, in Germany from 36 to 59 percent, in Britain from 49 to 69 percent, and in Spain from 23 to 72 percent.

The E.U.’s aim is to transform Europe into a single federal state. One of the ways of achieving this aim is unification of economic and monetary policies. So far, 17 of the 27 E.U.-member states have joined the so-called Eurozone by adopting the Euro as their common currency. The project has backfired. The Euro has exacerbated the economic crisis. The one-size-fits-all currency has become the one-size-fits-none currency.

When the Euro was introduced in 2002, Europe’s leaders said it would bring economic growth and prosperity. They even promised full employment by 2010. Europe’s misery is largely self-inflicted. The Euro prevents countries from overcoming their economic problems by devaluing their currency and adapting their wage and price levels. Countries in financial difficulties have to rely on solidarity payments from countries in better shape. As the Euro is dragging everyone down, however, the countries in the North are becoming ever more reluctant to transfer their tax money to the South.

For the past three years, the E.U.’s rich countries have been bailing out the poorer ones, while in return all the Eurozone member states were forced to adopt austerity policies and transfer national sovereignty over their budgets to the unelected, irremovable E.U. bureaucracy in Brussels. The popular appeal of political parties opposing the austerity policies and/or the transfer of national sovereignty is growing everywhere, from Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement in Italy, to UKIP in Britain, to Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, to Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France. Britain is not even part of the Eurozone, but UKIP wants to take it out of the E.U. altogether. The PVV wants to take the Netherlands out of the Eurozone and out of the E.U., as well. Like UKIP, it wants to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), a small and modest organization, limiting its ambition simply to establishing a free trade zone, to which so far only four non-E.U.-nations – Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Iceland – belong.

In Germany, a new party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), is expected to make it through the 5 percent electoral threshold in the next general elections on September 22nd. AfD, formally launched by a group of economics professors last Month, wants to take Germany out of the Eurozone. The party, which is conservative, may, however, draw voters away from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition and tip the balance in favor of the Social-Democrats and their Green partners. Merkel’s coalition is currently leading at 44 percent in the polls, against 41% for the leftist alliance.

While most of the anti-E.U. parties – AfD, UKIP, PVV – tend to be pro-American, their position towards American interests will be shaped by the position Washington takes on the E.U. centralization policies and the Euro. The current U.S. administration, recognizing a centrally-controlled supranational political project when it sees one, supports the E.U. project. Last January, Philip Gordon, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, told the British government that it should stay in the E.U. The administration also said it wants the E.U. to let Turkey become a member.

The European people are rebelling against the unelected E.U. and its grandiose, self-regarding project of abolishing the national sovereignty of the various European countries and turning the whole of Europe into a super-Belgium – an artificial state encompassing several nations with separate languages and distinct cultures and traditions.

Spiegel Bemoaning ‘Germanophobia’

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

It appears that the Germans have been expecting to be forgiven for those memorable years 1933-1945, especially when considering all the goodness and stability Germany has been spreading around the continent. But the continent is refusing to be grateful, and have become quite insolent, in fact. Germany’s push for austerity during the ongoing euro crisis has prompted Nazi depictions of Chancellor Angela Merkel in many parts of Southern Europe and mass demonstrations pushing the same idea, namely that today’s Germany is pursuing the same old targets, using economic means.

This weekend, Spiegel interviewed Brendan Peter Simms, a professor of the History of International Relations in the Center of International Studies at Cambridge University, asking poignantly: “People talk of a Fourth Reich, and the hatred is palpable. Is this just absurd dramatics, or is it a reaction to a true power shift in Germany’s favor?”

Prof. Simms enlightened Spiegel’s editors—and their German readers—on the fact that the “German question” is still very much on everybody’s mind in Europe, despite the German reunification, and perhaps because of it.

“There is no doubt Germanophobia exists,” said Simms. “Look at Greece, at Italy, even Ireland, a country that has never before expressed hostility toward Germany, but which is now full of anger over increasingly painful cuts to its standard of living, an anger that comes from people feeling they have been hung out to dry. Then, of course, there is also anti-German sentiment that stems from World War II, for example in Greece.”

According to Simms, the problem starts with German politicians who tend to emphasize almost exclusively the poor conduct of the countries at the periphery of the EU, insisting that those countries change this conduct as a prerequisite for changing the EU’s political structure.

“By taking this position, they’re failing to recognize that this poor conduct was in part a result of a design flaw in the way the euro was implemented, which led to the countries at Europe’s periphery being flooded with new, cheap money… My fear is that Germany’s policies on this point consist solely of setting the European periphery conditions it can’t fulfill.”

UN to Adopt Syrian Text Damning Israel for ‘Violating Human Rights’

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

At the UN Human Rights Council on Friday, Syria accused Israel of violating the human rights of children in the Golan, while diplomats met in another chamber on the same day to discuss a Syrian-drafted resolution, to be adopted next week, entitled “Human Rights in the Occupied Syrian Golan.”

There will be five other resolutions targeting Israel, and about the same number combined covering the rest of the world.

While this year Syria did not officially present the text, its delegate sat on the dais next to his Pakistani colleague who chaired the session on behalf of the Islamic group. Not a single diplomat called out the sheer lunacy of the exercise. Rather, the EU commented that it was “committed to the protection of all, including those in the occupied Golan.” It was willing to “constructively engage on the text,” even as it noted that its proposals last year were not implemented.

Egypt said it aligned itself with the Islamic group.



Later in the day, UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer took the floor in the plenary. Here are his notes:

Mr. President,

This Council is charged with promoting and protecting the guarantees enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Today we ask: is the Council fulfilling its mission?

Let us consider the most basic right: the right to life.

As we heard this week from Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia is preparing imminently to execute seven alleged child offenders including Sarhan Al Mashayekh—who was also sentenced to be crucified over three days. Why is the Council refusing to address this in any resolution, urgent session, or even debate? [Ed. note: the Saudis executed them today by firing squad.]

Three other countries known to execute juvenile offenders are Yemen, Sudan and Iran—yet none of these situations is being addressed by any resolution.

And while there is a resolution on Iran, it is silent on child executions—and indeed the text is devoid of any documentation whatsoever of the regime’s other massive abuses, including against women, religious and ethnic minorities, and dissidents.

Finally, the Council must do far more about the thousands of children subjected to violence and death in Syria.

Now, today we just heard from the Syrian representative about human rights in the Golan Heights. This was a transparent attempt to change the subject from the dire, catastrophic human rights situation in Syria.

Sadly, this has been going on for decades. The United Nations has allowed Syria to present itself as a champion of human rights.

Indeed, a resolution was circulated today—presented by Syria—the same one that has been adopted each year by this Council, on purported human rights violations in the Golan Heights.

This text embodies all that is wrong with giving Syria a free pass. Year after year, the UN enabled Syria to portray itself as a champion of human rights.

- While Hafez al-Assad was murdering 20,000 people in Hama, in 1982, Syria was sitting here, as an elected member of the human rights commission. Two years later, it was reelected.

- A year and a half ago, Syria was elected to two human rights committees of UNESCO.

- A few weeks ago, Syria was elected Rapporteur of the decolonization committee dealing with human rights.

Mr. President,

Let us be clear: the situation in Syria today was allowed to develop, and the Syrian regime was allowed to remain in power, in part because the United Nations granted false legitimacy to this murderous regime.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The Meaning of European ‘Resolve’ Against Terror

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Yesterday, March 11, 2013, the European Union commemorates the 9th European Day in Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism.

Here’s the key part of an official statement released by the E.U. Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove:

All acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, wherever they took place or whoever committed them. Therefore, our resolve to defeat terrorism must never weaken or falter even for a day, and our support to victims to meet their needs must remain a priority, as well as our commitment to actively promoting a policy of international solidarity.

Seems like a good time to remind him of the need to outlaw the outrageous and flagrant terrorists of Hizbollah whose supporters operate within the law in Europe with no evident interference from officials of the E.U. or of its Counter-Terrorism Coordinator. This ought to surprise us given that a Bulgarian court found last month that it was Hizbollah that stood behind the terrorist attack last summer on a tourist bus full of Israelis, killing five of them and their driver.

Mr de Kerchove knows this. But despite his public call today never to weaken or to falter “even for a day” in the battle to defeat terrorism, he doesn’t actually seem to mean the Hizbollah brand of terrorism, but other terrorisms. (Truthfully, we’re not completely sure which, but it seems that he is).

Here is how he expressed it in a January 28, 2013 interview (“EU official: Hezbollah unlikely to get on terrorism blacklist“) with E.U. Observer when asked if Europe should go along with the requests of the United States and Israel to make it illegal, for instance, to give donation money to Hizbollah:

…For De Kerchove, the situation is not so simple. “First, we need to reach conclusions with strong evidence that it was the military wing of Hezbollah [which indeed carried out the terrorist bombing at Burgas airport in Bulgaria]. That’s the prerequisite, even in legal terms, but then, as always in the listing process, you need to ask yourself: ‘Is this the right thing to do?’… For Hezbollah, you might ask, given the situation in Lebanon, which is a highly fragile, highly fragmented country, is listing it going to help you achieve what you want? … There is no automatic listing just because you have been behind a terrorist attack. It’s not only the legal requirement that you have to take into consideration, it’s also a political assessment of the context and the timing…”

The interview was given just before the Bulgarians found, judicially, that Hizbollah was the culprit, so at least that prerequisite was satisfied. But that – why are we surprised? – is evidently not enough.

He noted there is “no consensus” among EU states on whether listing Hezbollah would be helpful or not [E.U. Observer]

which is a very good way to say what official Europe really feels about the battle against the terrorists.

In simple terms, the Commissioner’s official statement today, the one that appears in the press release above, should not be taken too seriously. Perhaps it was only intended for the terror victims and their commemoration ceremonies in the first place. If you really want to go after the terrorists, then the way forward – according to Europe’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator – calls for more than mere resolve. You need consensus and agreement as to whether it will be helpful.

European politics is populated by a multitude of individuals who are hopelessly ambivalent about the Islamists. As for serious European moves against terror, we can expect to see them limited to press releases and wreath laying ceremonies in civic squares.

Out on the streets and railways and airports of Europe? Not so much.

Visit This Ongoing War.

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