Today in London a new report entitled The Israel lobby and the European Union is being released. Researched and written by Public Interest Investigations and Spinwatch and published by EuroPal Forum, it seeks to explore a number of Israel lobby groups in the European Union, the power they wield and the dubious sources that fund them, while also uncovering the secretive transatlantic networks behind them.
A series of pro-Israel lobby groups have sprung up in Brussels in recent years. Some of the most influential being the European Friends of Israel (EFI), modelled on the UK’s very successful Conservative Friends of Israel, and Friends of Israel Initiative (FII). The report manages to dissect the support base for these groups and others, including detailing their links with far right groups across Europe. It cites a former director of a London think tank relating to anti-Semitism who pointed out that many far-rightists and former neo-fascists seeking political respectability “now support Israel and see Israel-supporting Jews as potential allies in their fight against the “Muslim threat”.
The establishment of similar pro-Israel groups in Brussels is part of efforts over the last decade to create what the report terms “a powerful transatlantic lobby in the heart of the European Union”. This has direct links to the Israel lobby in Washington, as well as American funders. These funders have been shown to routinely support organisations engaged in the occupation of Palestine and policies that directly harm the potential for peace. For example, a notable donor to FII is the Middle East Forum; a think-tank based in Philadelphia which the report says is a “distributor of funding to the transatlantic Islamophobia network”. The group finances the establishment of Israeli settlements through its support for the Central Fund of Israel and Friends of Ir David. The Ir David foundation, baked by right-wing American Jewish millionaires and Israeli government money, appropriates Palestinian land and properties for the settlement enterprise.
The report also examines EU-Israel trade relations, looking at key points in recent history such as Israel’s wars on Gaza and EU reactions to them.While Israel faced a freeze in upgraded trade relations with the EU following the 2008-2009 Gaza war, subsequent opportunities to put pressure on Israel over its treatment of Palestinians have been missed. Instead, trade relations have developed; with the efforts made to apply pressure on Israel often successfully resisted by the Israel lobby.