The EU may say never again, but they are not making it a reality: Anti-Semitism in Europe, UNRWA terrorists and the Commission

The Left's favourite cause: Boycott Israel EPA-EFE/TERESA SUAREZ


It turns out that a number of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) employees were involved in the October 7 terrorist attacks against Israel, according to intelligence reports. The EU, one of UNRWA’s major donors, is yet to hold the Agency accountable – let alone suspend its funding.

This should come as no surprise. The last months have revealed a harsh reality: A new breed of anti-Semitism runs deep in Europe, and the EU does little to confront it.  

Annual European aid to Palestine amounts to billions of Euros. The EU funds the UNRWA with 115 million, while another 700 million a year are donated as development aid. Then there is humanitarian aid, which for 2023 was 296 million. And on top of that countries donate individually. Last year, Germany alone disbursed around 200 million. While nobody can tell how much of this goes to Hamas, the Islamist organisation that governs Gaza largely survives on foreign funds – and boasts that it uses international aid, like water pipes, sugar and cement, to build weapons and military facilities.

Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Finland, Estonia, together with countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Japan and Switzerland have already suspended funding to the UNRWA. In fact, the EU remains the only major UNRWA donor that has not yet suspended funding, despite pressure from member states and MEPs. The ECR in particular has been active in presenting the UNRWA’s terrorist-related activities to the Parliament – in vain.

More than a relief agency, the UNRWA is an entity deeply embedded in the system that rules Gaza. It employs tens of thousands of people many of whom are Hamas members, runs healthcare and educational institutions, publishes school books which spread anti-Semitic propaganda. The EU ought to have known better. So why has it done nothing so far? And, more importantly, why does it now react so passively to the latest unveilings?

One needs to take into consideration the deeply entrenched liberal and progressive ideology amongst the EU’s ruling elites. Nowadays, two things define what centrist and socialist leaders prioritise in terms of making policy decisions: Leftist values and an a priori tolerance to Islam. Both the Left in its new woke form and many Muslims entertain an inherent animosity towards Israel – if not Jews in general. 

After the October 7 pogrom most EU governments explicitly declared that they stand with Israel. But in most European countries Leftists, many Left-leaning liberals and the vast majority of Muslims did not agree with that. Huge demonstrations rocked cities all around the continent, extremist attacks on Jews and ethnic Europeans escalated, hate speech against Israel and European Jews became a norm among certain communities. 

Authorities did not do much to prevent or combat this new anti-Semitic surge. The same happened in the US, where Jewish communities came to realise that the liberals many of them had supported for decades have now become their worst enemy.

Many politicians in Europe decided to not alienate progressive voters. As for Muslim communities, which have in the last years increased in numbers due to illegal migration, in practice most governments opted to appease them, rather than strictly impose the rules of western democracy. 

As a result, when a few days ago Israel’s information services presented a direct connection between the UNRWA and Hamas terrorism, the EU’s reaction was at best lukewarm. For the European Commission, the Council, or even the Parliament, it has become increasingly difficult to outright condemn the Palestinian side, even when facts prove its wrongdoing. Rather, EU officials prefer to wait and “draw lessons based on the result of the full and comprehensive investigation” – as per the Commission’s communique.

On January 27 the world commemorated the Shoah. “After October 7 2023, Holocaust commemoration took on new meaning. Never again is now”, Ursula von der Leyen said in an official statement.

Then, just a few days later the Commission made clear that for the time being it will not stop aid to UNRWA, until the results of an audit conducted by the UN and “independent external experts” come out. It seems that “never again” has indeed gotten a new meaning.

Konstantinos Bogdanos served as a member of the Greek parliament from 2019 to 2023