The Euro-Arab Dialogue

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The Euro-Arab Dialogue


The Birth of Eurabia

Bat Ye’or *

In 2001 a wave of Judeophobia swept violently over Europe; it coincided with the intensification of the al-Aqsa intifada from September 30, 2000. This simultaneity was not fortuitous. In Europe, governments, some of the Churches, and most of the media in fact approved of the 2nd intifada, using fine moral terms for what was a strategy of terror by the Palestinian leadership. The justification and negligence displayed toward these criminal aggressions amounted to an encouragement. The elimination of terrorist leaders was described as 'assassination' and the Hamas and other terrorists became 'fighters for freedom' and 'activists'. While Hamas was translated as a 'Resistance' movement, Israel was accused of 'state terrorism'. Especially in France this condemnation sanctioned the criminal acts committed mainly by immigrants of Arab-Muslim origin, against individuals and Jewish community ―――――

*Bat Ye’or is the author of The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam (1985/2003); The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam. From Jihad to Dhimmitude (1996/2002); Islam and Dhimmitude. Where Civilizations Collide, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2002/2003). This article is an English translation of “Le Dialogue Euro-Arabe et la naissance d’Eurabia” in Observatoire du monde juif, Bulletin n° 4/5, Décembre 2002, pp.44-55, (78 avenue des Champs Elysées, 75008 Paris).

property. Even in 2003 the French government still refused to place Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organizations, Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin was sharply reprimanded by President Chirac for having said that Hezbollah was a terrorist organization.

The convergence between the specific policies of the European Union (EU) and the Palestinian Authority which it greatly finances, as well as with those policies of the Arab countries, seem to be the result of a long-term process. With slight nuances, the anti-Israel discourse that is heard simultaneously on both shores of the Mediterranean shows identical characteristics. This twenty-first century Judeophobia is rooted in a transnational European structure, born of a historical context and the Euro-Arab policy of the last thirty years. The European populations however remain, grosso modo, unconcerned even if the media have for decades subjected them to an ideology that demonized Israel.

Thus, Europeans run considerable risks of becoming both the toy and the victims of religious hatred, as well as of political and economic interests masked by the Arab-Israel conflict that is intentionally blown out of all proportions in order to hide the global jihad that also targets them. For the ideological structure of this new Judeophobia is imported from the Arab-Muslim world, even if it is expressed in the framework of a European discourse by three sectors: the political parties, the media, and the religious sector.

As will be seen below, the development of the Euro-Arab Dialogue brought considerable modifications in European societies. It has relayed Muslim Judeophobic anti-Zionism, anti-Americanism and its hatred of the West. It has facilitated the irrepressible Arab ambition to Islamize Europe, its history, and its culture – an ambition that some Islamist leaders, for example, are voicing in the very heart of London. Moreover, the strategy of the Dialogue urged the glorification of 'Palestinity', the vilification of Israel, the growing separation between Europe and America, and the flourishing of an imaginary version of Islamic religion, history and civilization in Western public opinion. It forced Europe to revise its interpretation of its own identity and history in order to harmonize them with the Islamic vision of Europe, and by this process, to undergo a self-inflicted Islamization.

The oil embargo: The trigger

After World War II, France – humiliated by the Vichy collaborationist government and the loss of its colonial empire – saw any ambitious role it may have had as a great power sharply reduced. The Franco-German union provided Charles de Gaulle with the means to ensure peace in Europe by reconciling traditional enemies, while in the 1960s the alliance with the Arab world enabled France – at an international level – to challenge American power. De Gaulle’s economic and strategic policy aimed at uniting the countries around the Mediterranean in an inter-dependent industrial bloc opposed to America. To achieve this plan, France strove to build an alliance with the Arab states. Hostility toward America and Israel was not only fed by the communist and leftist trends, but also by the heritage of pro-Nazi collaborators from the French Vichy regime, which had survived in the post-war decades, and permeated the French administration up to the highest ranks.

After the 1967 Six-Days war, France became the instigator of a European anti-Israel policy. She did not readily forgive Israel for its lightning victory over a coalition comprising Egypt, Syria, Jordan and the Palestinians – and supported by the entire Arab world. At international forums France voted in favour of Arab anti-Israel resolutions and backed a unilateral boycott of arms sales to the Jewish state (1969). At the European level, French diplomacy supported Arab interests, setting out to bend European policy in a pro-Arab, anti-Israel direction. In this context, France examined the concept of a Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD) with Libya. (1)
The joint Egyptian-Syrian war against Israel in 1973 and the Arab oil embargo, utilized as a weapon of world pressure, favored French schemes. Mortified by the Arab defeat after a successful beginning, the Arab oil-producing countries met in Kuwait (October 16-17 ), where they decided unilaterally to quadrupled the price of oil, to reduce gradually by 5% each month their production of crude oil until the withdrawal of Israel from the territories the Arab had lost in their war of 1967 and failed to recover in their 1973 war. They imposed an embargo on deliveries destined to the countries considered friendly to Israel: the United States, Denmark, and the Netherlands. The consuming countries were classified as friendly, neutral, or enemy countries.

Panicked, the nine countries of the European Economic Community (EEC) immediately met in Brussels on November 6,1973 and tabled a joint Resolution based on their dependence on Arab oil; this Resolution was totally in line with the Franco-Arab policy in respect of Israel. (2)

The EEC introduced three new points in the Brussels resolution: 1. The inadmissibility of acquiring territory by force, already theoretically stated in UN Security Council Resolution 242; 2. An Israeli withdrawal to the lines of the 1949 armistice; 3. Inclusion of 'the legitimate rights of the Palestinians' in the definition of peace.

The first proposal seemed admirable but absurd since all territories were acquired by force. What constituted the legitimacy of states? Ottoman Palestine had been conquered by force in 1917 by the British. In the 1948 war against Israel, Egypt took Gaza by force and Abdullah’s Arab Legion had occupied Judea and Samaria by force, as well as the Old City of Jerusalem and the Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus, expelling all their Palestinian Jewish inhabitants. Moreover, all the countries that today are called Arab were originally conquered by Arab jihad armies. Were all these land conquests, imposed by force and war, also unacceptable? What criteria would determine the irreversibility of a conquest and an injustice – the occupation of land or its liberation? Did their indigenous non-Muslim populations “occupy” Spain and Portugal, Sicily, Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania and Armenia lands, or were they population of countries freed from dhimmitude? Is the State of Israel the legitimate expression of a free people, whose land had been Arabized and Islamized by one of the cruellest form of persecution against its indigenous Jewish population after the Roman-Byzantine occupation, or an injustice because it has suppressed this persecution and neutralised the evil power of the persecutors?

On the second point, Europe obligingly adopted the Arabs' denial of their own defeat in 1967, a war that they themselves had triggered after the 1948 invasion to eradicate Israel. In this way, the EEC set the seal on the Arab-Islamic interpretation of Resolution 242, because in fact this Resolution in its original and authoritative English version only refers to withdrawal from territories, an intentional choice of words on the part of those who conceived it. Judea and Samaria were not, henceforth, described as territories open to negotiation but as 'occupied Arab territories' that Israel had to evacuate immediately. But these territories had also been conquered by force in the 1948 war unleashed by Arab states. The combined Syrian, Jordanian and local Arab forces that seized them had also expelled all their Jewish Palestinian inhabitants and had confiscated all their land, houses and property.

The third point of the Resolution introduced an innovation into the Middle East conflict that would prove dramatic for Europe in the future. Until 1970, the expression “Palestinian people” did not exist in this context. People talked only about the Arabs in Palestine who were no different from Arabs in the twenty countries of the Arab League, particularly from the Arabs in Transjordan, that is to say from 78 per cent of the League of Nations designated Palestine. Great Britain detached this vast area in 1922 and created an exclusively Arab country, the newly named Emirate of Transjordan.

UN Security Resolution 242 recommended a solution to the refugee problems, which also implied the more numerous Jewish refugees who had fled from Arab lands, abandoning all their possessions. The creation of a “Palestine people” ex nihilo after the Arab oil embargo in 1973, would lead Europe to create its legitimacy, its history and a right – equivalent and even superior to Israel's – by resurrecting the theology of replacement, constantly nourished with propaganda demonizing Israel in order to justify its demise. This directed Europe along a path of active solidarity with the Arab policy of Israel’s elimination that involved the encouragement and legitimization of international terrorism embodied by the PLO.

The formation of an Euro-Arab Economic and Political bloc

The EEC's anti-Israel decision met the Arab conditions to open a dialogue with Europe, and it was rewarded by an immediate increase in oil supplies. Born of the oil embargo, the Euro-Arab Dialogue was set up from the start as a trade-off: the EEC countries undertook to support anti-Israel Arab policy, while in exchange they would benefit from economic agreements with the Arab League countries.(3) The Arab side demanded a European political commitment against Israel, subordinating the economic aspect of the dialogue to the political context of the Arab war against Israel. The economic domain was thus integrated within Euro-Arab political solidarity against Israel.

President Georges Pompidou, and Chancellor Willy Brandt confirmed the wish for a Dialogue at their meeting on November 26-27, 1973. Less than a month later the French president called a summit on December 15, 1973 in Copenhagen to examine the Middle East crisis and lay down the bases for cooperation between the Arab League countries and the EEC countries. Four Arab foreign ministers, invited to monitor the project, suggested various schemes

On June 10, 1974 the foreign ministers of the nine countries of the EEC, meeting in Bonn within the framework of political cooperation, adopted a text that specified the areas and means of developing their cooperation and their relations with the Arab countries. The areas involved were agriculture, industry, sciences, culture, education, technology, financial cooperation, and the civil infrastructure, etc.

In the course of the meetings that followed, the foreign ministers of the Nine laid the foundations of this cooperation with the Arab countries, according to an institutionalized structure linked to the highest authorities of each of the EEC countries. This formula made it possible to harmonize and unify the policy of the European Communities in their exchanges and their cooperation with the Arab League countries.

On July 31, 1974 in Paris, the first official meeting at ministerial level took place between the Kuwaiti foreign minister, the secretary-general of the Arab League, the president of the commission of the European Communities and the current president of the Community in order to discuss the organization of the Dialogue. The Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Cooperation was then founded by the nine countries of the European Community with a view to strengthening the political, cultural and economical co-operation between Europe and the Arab world. All the major trends in European politics were represented in its Executive Committee that since met regularly every six months

The Damascus Conference (September 14-17, 1974), organized by the inter-parliamentary Association of Euro-Arab Cooperation, brought together the members representing all the parliamentary parties of the EEC, except Denmark. The Arabs set out the political preconditions for agreements on economic cooperation with the western European countries. The economic area that interested the EEC was conditioned by the Arabs' political demands concerning the Middle East in accordance with the principle of barter, a fundamental principle of the Dialogue. The Arabs demanded:

1. The unconditional withdrawal of Israel to the 1949 armistice lines;

2. The Arabization of the Old City of Jerusalem which had been seized by force in 1948 and from which all the Jews had been expelled;

3. The association of the PLO and its leader Arafat in any negotiations. (4)

4. Pressure to be brought to bear on the United States by the EEC in order to bring it nearer to Arab policy and detach it from Israel.
The political aspect as an indispensable condition of the Dialogue was confirmed at the 7th Summit of the Arab Conference a month later (Rabat, October 1974). There it was recalled that the Euro-Arab Dialogue had to develop within the context of the “Declaration” of the 6th Summit of the Arab Conference in Algiers transmitted to Europe on November 28, 1973, which established the Arab political requirements concerning Israel. (5) For the Arabs, the Dialogue had to continue until its objectives were achieved. The political and economic aspects of this Euro-Arab cooperation were considered by them as interdependent

A permanent secretariat of 350 members assigned to Euro-Arab cooperation was then created with its seat in Paris. The Euro-Arab Dialogue was structured into various committees charged with planning joint industrial, commercial, political, scientific, technical, cultural and social projects.

On June 10, 1975, a delegation from the European Economic Community (EEC) met with a delegation from twenty Arab countries and from the PLO based in Cairo. More than thirty countries were represented by a general committee at ambassadorial level and by numerous experts. The EEC and the secretariat of the Arab League were represented at the political level. The Jordanian spokesman of the Arab delegation, M. Nijmeddin Dajani, stressed the political aspect and implications of the Euro-Arab Dialogue. The deal between the two parties was clearly defined: economic agreements with Europe in exchange for European alignment with Arab policy on Israel.

A Joint Memorandum of the Mixed Committee of Experts gave a first formulation of the general principles and aims of the Euro-Arab Dialogue.

In the course of the Luxembourg meeting a year later (May 18-20, 1976), the organization and procedure of the Euro-Arab Dialogue were defined and published in Appendix 4 of the final Communiqué. The Dialogue was composed of three organs: 1) the General Committee; 2) the Working Committees; 3) the Political Committee.

The General Committee consisted of the delegates of both sides, comprising officials of ambassadorial status, members of the League of Arab States and of the European Communities, of the general secretariat of the League of Arab States and of the Commission of the European Communities, as well as the co-presidents and rapporteurs of the Working Committees. The heads of the Arab and European delegations held the presidency of the General Committee jointly. The Committee was the central body of the Dialogue, and was in charge of the general conduct of the Dialogue as well as monitoring its developments in the different areas. It was responsible for its establishment, and for directing it toward the assigned political, cultural, social, technological and economic goals, as well as approving the program of the Dialogue and of its tasks. The varied commitments of the Committee were specified. Its sittings took place behind closed doors and without recorded minutes. At the end of each meeting the General Committee could publish a summary of the decisions taken and a common press release. (6)

The composition of the Working Committees followed the same principle: each group comprised experts and specialist technicians from the two sides, as well as representatives of the general secretariat of the League of Arab States and the Commission of the European Communities. Each of the two Arab and European groups appointed a president for each Working Committee. The Working Committees proceeded according to the instructions given by the General Committee concerning their mandates. Each Working Committee could create specialized sub-groups whose experts were chosen in conjunction with the general secretariat of the League of Arab States and the Commission of the European Communities.

The Coordinating Committee was composed of representatives of the General Committee and of the general secretariat of the League of Arab States and of the European presidency, with the two parties presiding jointly. The Committee was responsible for coordinating the work of the various working parties under the direction of the General Committee. All information and documentation was transmitted by the general secretariat of the League of Arab States and the Commission of European Communities.

This briefly summarized structure established a symbiosis, an inter-penetration of Arab and European policies, requiring the involvement of the European states at the highest level. It is clear that Europe's hostile policy to Israel – standardized by the structures of the EEC – is not the result of mistaken judgements, of prejudices capable of being corrected. It rests on a politico-economic construction, meticulously prepared down to the smallest detail, and rooted in its multiform symbiosis with the Arab world.

In the years that followed, this collaboration was strengthened by meetings every six months and by various activities on an international scale: (Rome, July 24,1975; Abu Dhabi, November 27,1975; Luxembourg, May 18-20, 76; several meetings in Brussels in 1976; Tunis, February 10-12, 1977). The European members of the permanent secretariat of the Association for Euro-Arab Cooperation ( PAEAC) travelled frequently to the United States to attempt to influence America policy in favour of the PLO's claims, and against Israel. The Arabs demanded that Europe recognise Yasser Arafat as the Palestinian leader and a Palestinian state, the implementation of an international boycott of Israel, and a strategy of worldwide political and economic pressure in order to force the Jewish state to withdraw to the 1949 armistices lines. The Working Committee studied suitable methods to condition European and world public opinion to persuade it to support the PLO, whose Charter required the elimination of the State of Israel. According to Saleh al-Mani:

Despite the failure of the EAD, to result in recognition of the PLO the latter was, nevertheless, one of the most active supporters of the EAD. The PLO may have wanted to use the EAD as a channel for airing its demands, and in this regard it may have been successful.

Although failing short of achieving formal recognition for the PLO the EAD did, however, succeed in persuading the Europeans of the need to established a “homeland for the Palestinians” and in “associating” the PLO with future negotiations on the Middle East. Thus the EAD has served certain limited Arab objectives. (7)

This comment by al-Mani confirms the direct connection between the PLO and the EEC's economic transactions. In a speech on 26 August 1980, after describing the PLO's terrorist war in Lebanon, Beshir Gemayel – Lebanon’s future President-elect – denounced its disastrous role in Europe:

This is a recapitulation of the doings of those people [PLO] on whose behalf the chancelleries of the civilized world are striving throughout the year, and for whose favours the old nations of Europe are competing. (8)

It is clear that the PLO played a crucial role in the exchange of economic benefits that the Arab countries granted to Europe in return for political support in their war against Israel. EAD meetings concluded with declarations by the European delegation in line with those of Arab policy (London, June 9, 1977; Brussels, October 26-28, 1978): Israeli withdrawal to its 1949 borders, Israel's obligation to recognise the national rights of the Palestinians; the invalidation of all measures and decisions taken by Israel in the territories outside of the 1949 lines, including Jerusalem. Judea and Samaria are described as 'occupied Arab territories'.

The Israeli-Egyptian peace negotiations at Camp David (1977-78) under the wing of American president Carter, put a damper on the EAD, while the Arab League totally rejected them and expelled Egypt from its ranks. The Arab countries were furious with the success of American influence in the region to the detriment of the European diplomacy that they tried to control through economic cooperation. France abstained from recognising the peace agreements, whereas the other EEC countries accepted them, but – at French instigation – with reservations.

Meanwhile, the EAD resumed its activities and the 4th meeting of the General Committee in Damascus (December 9-11, 1978) approved the creation of a Euro-Arab center in Kuwait for the transfer of technology.

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