The poor Israeli participation in the summit to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Barcelona process has more profound roots than the simple issues of the aforementioned domestic policy.
Since the beginning, in 1957, Israel’s attitude towards Europe has been schizophrenic. On the one hand, it admired the “classic” European culture, gastronomy, literature, economy, tourism … and on the other hand, it has implemented warm policies, even aggressive and sometimes frankly militant to Europe. Furthermore, Christian Europe cannot abandon its special relationship with the “Holy Land” and admires the technical and scientific breakthroughs of Israeli industry…even though 59 % consider that Israel poses a threat to world peace.
The key to understanding such an ambiguous relationship is that Jewish blood runs though all of Europe’s veins and the proverb “Europe, birthplace of anti-Semitism” runs through ours. Israel has its eyes fixed on far away North America and keeps its distance from the so close Europe, behaving more like an islet in the middle of the Atlantic than a Mediterranean country, despite its special status with the European Union, which has granted it full rights in the areas of economy, research and development. Remember that our commercial balance is more on the side of Europe than on our “allied and great friend” overseas.
In view of the failure of the Barcelona process, the European Union started to suggest to its neighbors a new type of alliance that invites friends of the Union –from Ukraine to Morocco- to join the European project. This new initiative raises a number of difficult and powerful questions from the emotional point of view of Israel –starting from the question of the Jewish nature of the State of Israel, to the weakening of our sovereignty, acceptance of foreign legislation and submission to foreign legal principles (and superiority of the European court) as well as in our foreign relations, a greater acceptance of UN multilateralism.
Israel must assess whether this new type of individual association benefits its interests. It is an opportunity for us to improve our relations with the EU and cooperate in policing, legal and environmental areas, while others are rejected which might affect our security and stability –for example, free circulation of goods and people. It is time to come up with a balance regarding the failure of Barcelona process, but also regarding our own limitations. In the Israeli context, Barcelona has made us be in the “Mediterranean basket” which delayed our relationship with Europe for years. In this regard, the new European policy of neighborhood is a worthy inheritance.

Yedioth News (Israël)">Yedioth News (Israël)

Israël should re-think its aggressive policy towards Europe”, by Sharon Pardo, Yedioth News, November 28, 2005.