The European Union canceled a Europe Day diplomatic reception in Tel Aviv scheduled for Tuesday, reportedly because National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir was expected to attend and represent the Israeli government.
The Europe Day celebration is held every year on May 9 and marks the historic Schuman declaration in 1950, which paved the path towards a united and peaceful democratic post-war Western Europe.
Early on Monday morning, the EU informed Israeli officials it was considering canceling all speeches by government officials at the upcoming celebration, due to controversy surrounding far-right minister Ben Gvir, who was expected to deliver an address.
“We don’t support the political views of Minister Ben Gvir, or his party. For example, many of his past statements and opinions contradict the views the European Union represents,” stated the European official who urged the Israeli government that “a more respectful choice be made.”
In a demonstrative act, the EU decided to cancel the diplomatic reception altogether, stating that it did not want to give Ben Gvir a platform.
“The EU Delegation to Israel is looking forward to celebrating Europe Day on May 9, as it does every year,” The Europe Day organizers said in a statement on Monday afternoon. “Regrettably, this year we have decided to cancel the diplomatic reception, as we do not want to offer a platform to someone whose views contradict the values the European Union stands for. ”
The Europe Day cultural event in Tel Aviv is reportedly still scheduled to take place on Tuesday without the reception and without speeches by government officials.
Ben Gvir is a controversial and divisive figure in Israeli politics. Critics have accused him of harboring racist views toward Arabs. However, his supporters argue that hawkish politicians like Ben Gvir are needed in order to address both terrorism and the growing crime rate in the Arab Israeli sector. Statistics reveal that both perpetrators and victims of the current crime wave in Israel are primarily Arab citizens. Ben Gvir, who is formally in charge of national security, has been criticized for incitement against Arabs and failing to address the underlying problems.
An ambassador from an unnamed European nation recently told the left-wing Israeli paper Haaretz that he “preferred not to meet or work with Ben Gvir or Religious Zionism chair Bezalel Smotrich.”
In March, the international community including the U.S. Biden administration, condemned Israeli Finance Minister Smotrich after he publicly called for the “erasure” of Huwara, an Arab village located in the disputed territories, in which terrorists murdered two Israeli brothers.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.