Brussels, February 26th, 2018 – ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell has expressed his extreme disappointment to the European Parliament for allowing members of the chamber to host the Palestinian extremist Omar Barghouti at an upcoming seminar within the European Parliament on Wednesday, 28th February. In an Opinion-Editorial in the Times of Israel on Monday, Sandell writes that “anti-Semitism is now at the core of progressive Europe”.
“At the same time as the European Parliament is being highly critical of the new Polish government for its proposed law to make any mention of possible Polish involvement in the Holocaust a criminal offence, it is prepared to give a platform to a speaker who openly denies the Jewish people their right to self-determination”, he said.
Barghouti has openly called for the destruction of the Jewish state and has compared the State of Israel to the Nazi regime. Both statements fall under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism which the European Parliament adopted in June 2017.
The seminar will be hosted by Portuguese MEP Ana Gomes from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. Sandell sees the BDS movement as an expression of a new form of anti-Semitism which hides behind the façade of progressive politics and protection of human rights. In a separate statement in Jerusalem on Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that “calling for the destruction of the Jewish state is a form of anti-Semitism”.
In his article in the Times of Israel Sandell draws a comparison between this instance and some initiatives of other progressive leaders in Europe who are currently campaigning against the State of Israel or denying the right for the Jewish people to live according to their own customs, such as male circumcision, which have defined Judaism for thousands of years.
Last week ECI joined a number of Jewish umbrella organisations in Brussels in contacting European Parliament President Antonio Tajani to urge him to stop Barghouti from taking the floor in the European Parliament. As of Monday, no reply to an ECI letter had been received and the seminar is still set to take place on Wednesday, just one month after the European Parliament commemorated the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“By allowing the podium to be given to an anti-Israel and anti-peace activist such as Omar Barghouti, the European Parliament is directly undermining its own policy on anti-Semitism, as BDS encourages discrimination and is an incitement to violence towards the Jewish people worldwide”, Sandell concluded.