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How the ‘deeply concerned’ European Union facilitates Israeli violence

By Denijal Jegic

As the Israeli regime carried out its latest deadly bombardments of Gaza, Western officials have reiterated their support for the colony’s atrocities against Palestinians. The European Union recycled their usual statements of alleged concern. While claiming to be troubled by the escalation in Gaza, the EU has ardently defended the Israeli regime and has long promoted Zionist rhetoric through its own political communication.

The Israeli regime’s most recent bombardment campaign against the besieged Palestinian population in Gaza has caused more death and destruction. Until a ceasefire came into effect on Sunday night, the Israeli regime had assassinated leaders of the Palestinian resistance group “Islamic Jihad” and killed at least 47 Palestinians, among them 16 children. More than 300 Palestinians were injured. No Israeli was killed. Palestinian resistance had reacted by launching rockets in retaliation into the 1948 territories.

Gaza has been under a blockade imposed by the Israeli regime for 15 years. Yet, while the nuclear-armed regime uses highly sophisticated weapons to bombard people in a densely populated de facto open-air prison, in much of Western political discourse, the victims are being blamed for resisting.

The latest attack was accompanied by a familiar pattern in the political rhetoric of Western regimes, which have again proclaimed their solidarity with the colonizer. While the United States and the United Kingdom openly declared their outright support for their Israeli ally, the European Union has followed a more twisted approach in its political communication strategy. 

For years, EU officials have been copying the same key words and phrases from their colonial archive, rhetorically distorting the situation in Palestine in favor of Zionist myths. While alleging concern over the situation in Palestine, EU officials have provided euphemisms and justifications for the crimes perpetrated by the Israeli regime. 

This was exemplified by the message conveyed by the EU’s special representative for - what the EU refers to as - the “Middle East Peace Process”, Sven Koopmans. He claimed he was “deeply troubled by the deaths and dangerous escalation in and around Gaza”. The evocation of alleged emotions has long been a standard introduction to official EU statements on Palestine. However,  this voicing of concern is usually accompanied by a whitewashing of the brutality of Israeli violence and an equation of the unequal power relations between the aggressor and the victim. Thus, Koopmans added that “all need to show maximum restraint. Broader conflict, terror and bombs disastrously affect civilians in both Gaza and Israel.” The application of the conflict frame helps to present the situation in Palestine as a war between two sides. Who caused the deaths and so-called escalation remains unclear, as the EU fails to identify the perpetrator.

Koopmans further claimed there was “clear need for a sustainable situation in Gaza and a perspective for peace.” While the EU has invested considerable rhetoric into the myth of the so-called peace process, the Israeli regime has significantly expanded its colonial violence. “Peace” in the EU lexicon implies peace for the settler-community and demands that indigenous people living under occupation guarantee the safety of their colonizer.

The same rhetoric is apparent in the official statement of the EU’s spokesperson for external affairs, according to which the EU “follows with great concern the latest developments in and around Gaza, where the ongoing escalation has already led to a number of casualties.” It is again the abstract “escalation” rather than the Israeli army that has caused casualties. This passive wording is followed by an equation, as the EU “calls for maximum restraint on all sides in order to avoid a further escalation and further casualties.” As the EU shifts the responsibility to Palestinians, it remains unclear how exactly Palestinian children surviving under a siege and being bombarded should “show maximum restraint”, as Koopmans and his colleagues demand.

The core of the EU’s ideological stance becomes clear in the official statement that claims “while Israel has the right to protect its civilian population, everything must be done to prevent a broader conflict, which would, first and foremost, affect the civilian populations on both sides and result in further casualties and more suffering.” The colony is regularly awarded a so-called “right” to exist, protect, or defend itself. Palestinians are dehumanized in this discourse and their rights are ignored. The underlying cause of the violence, i.e., the illegal occupation and blockade of Gaza, is not mentioned, nor is the right of Palestinians to survive and defend themselves from Israeli brutality. Palestinians have the right to resist against the aggression of the occupation regime. Their right to armed struggle is even guaranteed in UN resolutions. 

The EU discourse, however, is centered around the comfort of the colonizer. How exactly does the EU imagine to “prevent a broader conflict” when Palestinians have been victims of an ongoing ethnic cleansing and colonial violence for over seven decades? In fact, the EU-backed Israeli colony can only sustain its existence through a violently imposed apartheid regime and perpetual warfare. European Union officials blame Palestinians and condemn their reactions as terrorism. Dimiter Tzantchev, the ambassador of the European Union to Israel, wrote that the European Union “unequivocally condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire by the PIJ terrorist group.” It is the reactions of Palestinian resistance that cause anxiety for the Israeli regime and thus discomfort for its European backers. 

It is thus unsurprising that Palestinian reactions to Israeli violence lead the EU to call for “a sustainable situation in Gaza” and evoke the myth of the “peace process.” Calls for ceasefire emerge as reactions to Palestinian responses, while the Israeli siege of Gaza is easily accepted as a status quo.

The political communication of the European Union in regard to Palestine bases itself on a recycling of the same old tropes from colonial archives. Through euphemisms and myths, the EU has conducted propaganda work on behalf of the apartheid regime by rhetorically converting the colonial war against Palestinians into an alleged diplomatic conflict and, at times, into a self-defense against terrorism, and by perpetuating, to its Western audiences, the illusion that there is an imaginary “peace process”, while openly backing Israeli crimes against Palestinians. The “deeply concerned” bureaucratic elite in Bruxelles polices the behavior of the victims of a colonial apartheid regime and condemns their acts of resistance, while romanticizing state terrorism into self-defense. Whenever the next Israel bombs fall onto Gaza and kill Palestinians, EU bureaucrats will already have their communication ready.

Denijal Jegic is a writer and researcher, currently based in Beirut, Lebanon. He holds a PhD in American studies.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

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