The time has come for Israel to finally stop taking European rhetoric seriously.
Due to an unusual conflation of events, over the past two weeks we’ve caught a rare glimpse of the face of European foreign policy. We shouldn’t let it pass unremarked.
Last Friday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini presided over a curious summit in Vienna. In the same hall where she and her colleagues concluded the nuclear deal with Iran three years ago, Mogherini and her comrades tried to concoct ways to save the deal by undermining American power and defying its decision to abandon the deal.
Mogherini was joined in her efforts by the German, French and British foreign ministers. Sitting opposite them were Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers. Together they brainstormed ways to undermine the economic sanctions the US will begin implementing next month against Iran and anyone from anywhere that trades with Iran.
The Europeans made some suggestions. For instance, the European Investment Bank, they said, is authorized to invest in projects in Iran. European governments are willing to make direct deposits in Iranian banks to get around US restrictions on bank transfers to Iran.
The Germans apparently are the keenest to continue the money flow to Tehran. Bild, a Berlin-based tabloid, reported on Tuesday that Iran has asked the European-Iranian Trade Bank, which is majority owned by Iranian state-owned banks but registered in Hamburg with the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, to permit it to withdraw €350 million in cash. The Iranians intend to fly the cash to Tehran to avoid the prospect of the accounts being frozen once US sanctions are reimposed. According to the Bild report, the German government supports the cash transfer. The Merkel government believes the Iranian claim that the money will be distributed to Iranian businessmen who will be barred from using credit cards in international commerce due to the US sanctions.
The Germans apparently are happy to ignore the fact that Iran routinely uses cash to pay for its wars in Syria and Yemen. Iran regularly transfers millions of dollars in cash to Hamas in Gaza. Cash is its routine method of financing Hezbollah and its terror empire in Lebanon and throughout the world – including in Germany.
The Germans don’t care about that. Their goal is not to prevent terror. Their goal is to flood Iran with money.
Mogherini’s summit in Vienna was a statement of deep contempt for the US. Days before US President Donald Trump was scheduled to arrive on the continent, the leaders of Europe publicly colluded with Iran, China and Russia to undermine and weaken America. While shocking in and of itself, Europe’s behavior didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.
Mogherini has been publicly attacking the US for walking away from the nuclear deal and declaring her allegiance to the pact three times a day, every day since May 8 when Trump announced he was pulling the US out of it and reimposing sanctions on Iran.
What we didn’t know until recently is why Mogherini and her colleagues have chosen to stand with Iran against America.
We got the answer on June 30.
Six days before the Vienna summit, Belgian security forces arrested members of an Iranian terror cell as they made their way to Paris to blow up a rally held that day by the Iranian opposition movement Mujahedin e-Khalq. The cell was led by Asduallah Asadi, the head of Iran’s intelligence network in Europe. Asadi is registered as the Iranian intelligence attaché at the Iranian embassy in Vienna. He is an officer of the Revolutionary Guards’ al-Quds Brigade, which is responsible for Iran’s foreign terror operations.
Thousands attended the rally in Paris. Among the many VIPS present were former prime minister Ehud Barak, former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The arrests in Belgium drove home the fact that Iran has developed a massive terror infrastructure in Europe. The terror operatives who were arrested lived and operated in at least four countries: Germany, Austria, Belgium and France.
On the face of it, it is amazing than right after terrorists under the direct command of the Iranian regime were caught en route to carrying out an attack in Paris, Europe’s top diplomats sat down with the leaders of the regime and brainstormed how to shower them with cash in open defiance of the United States.
And that isn’t all. It is true that Mogherini and her colleagues insist the nuclear deal they love so much prevents Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. But it is also true that they know they are lying.
The Europeans don’t need Trump or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tell them the deal gives Iran a clear path to a full-blown nuclear arsenal within a decade. They have known that all along. And it’s never bothered them.
So in under a week, an Iranian terror cell tried to blow up a rally in Paris and Europe’s leaders reacted by hosting their bosses in a fancy hall and promising them billions of dollars and a nuclear arsenal within a decade in defiance of the US.
WHY WOULD the Europeans do this? What does this tell us about the nature of their policy?
The first thing all of this tells us is that Europe has a very clear Iran policy. It tells us that there is no connection whatsoever between Europe’s rhetoric – which insists that Iran must not acquire nuclear weapons and that Iran must end its sponsorship of terrorism – and Europe’s policy.
As to the policy itself, Europe’s Iran policy is a policy of pure appeasement, based on profound weakness. Mogherini and her comrades are fully aware that Iran can cause them harm and intends to cause them harm. Through payoffs and betrayal of the US they hope to convince the Iranians to attack someone else instead of them. They don’t care if it’s Israel or Saudi Arabia or America. As far as the Europeans are concerned, Iran can kill whoever it wants, so long as it doesn’t attack Europe.
This is Europe’s Iran policy. It has no other policy.
There is nothing unique about Europe’s Iran policy. Appeasement predicated on weakness and an absence of any will to defend itself stands at the heart of Europe’s policies towards all of its enemies. As for its allies, Europe expects them to serve its needs, and appease it in exchange for nodding, condescending approval.
At the NATO summit on Wednesday, Trump exposed this basic fact in relation to Europe’s Russia policy. When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, no one condemned the move more passionately than the Europeans. And German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood at the front of the column of denouncers proclaiming Russia’s aggression would not stand.
And yet, as Trump revealed in his blunt repartee with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, while Germany passionately declaimed about Russian aggression and the threat Russia poses to Europe, Merkel was signing massive gas deals with Russia to build and expand the Nord Stream gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. The strategic implication of Germany’s dependence on Russian gas is that the country screaming loudest about Russia has voluntarily rendered its economy dependent on Russian gas.
Merkel did this, Trump noted, while refusing to spend the requisite 2% of German GDP on its national defense and while expecting the US to defend Europe from Russia it on its own dime.
As with Iran, so with Russia, when you see the full spectrum of European actions, you realize there is no connection whatsoever between European rhetoric and European policy. As with Iran, so with Russia, Europe’s actual policy is to appease Russia by paying it off. As with Iran so with Russia, Europe expects the US to pull its fat from the fire when the going gets tough – and pay for the privilege of doing so.
Trump scares the Europeans. He doesn’t scare them because he expects them to pay for their own defense. All of his predecessors had the same expectation. He frightens the Europeans because he ignores their rhetoric while mercilessly exposing their true policy and refuses to accept it. They are scared that Trump intends to exact a price from them for their weak-kneed treachery.
Europe’s policies towards Israel follow a similar script as its other policies. As is the case with Iran and Russia, there is no connection whatsoever between Europe’s rhetoric and its actual policies. With Iran, Europe claims that it is committed to preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons to Iran while its actual policy is to enable Iran to build a nuclear arsenal. In Israel’s case, Europeans say they strive to advance international law, human rights and peace when their actual policy negates international law, harms human rights and diminishes any possibility of peace.
Whereas Europeans fear the Iranians and the Russians, they hate Israel. And the goal of Europe’s Israel policy is to weaken the Jewish state through delegitimization, political and legal subversion and the constant threat of commercial sanctions.
Israel’s great error in contending with Europe is that we fail to recognize, as Trump recognizes, that European rhetoric doesn’t represent its actual policy. It camouflages it. We send our best lawyers to Europe to explain that our policies conform with international law. We deploy our most talented diplomats to Europe to prove that our actions advance human rights. And our greatest statesmen have spent decades trying to prove our commitment to peace.
And all these efforts are completely irrelevant. The Europeans couldn’t care less about the truth. They aren’t here to promote truth. They prefer lies. Lies help them to hide their policy predicated on hatred of Israel.
The summit in Vienna was a dud. Like Trump, the Iranians understand that European rhetoric gets them nowhere. European banks aren’t willing to lose the American market for Iran. Likewise, European conglomerates are pulling out of deals with Iran one after another to avoid US sanctions.
We don’t know where Trump wants to lead US relations with Europe. But it is clear that he intends to exact a price from Europe for its hostile policies, its weakness towards US adversaries and its double dealing with America.
Israel should draw the appropriate lessons from Trump’s actions and from the truth revealed about the nature of European policy by the events of the past two weeks.
The time has come for Israel to finally stop taking European rhetoric seriously. The time has come for Israel to begin exacting a painful price from Europe for its hostile and damaging policies towards us.