Jewish campaign calls on EU’s Ashton to ‘apologize or resign’ over Toulouse-Gaza comparison

The European Jewish Parliament (EJP) and the European Jewish Union (EJU) on Friday announced the launch of a campaign calling for EU Chief Diplomat Catherine Ashton to apologize or resign.

Ashton drew criticism in Israel on Tuesday over what Israeli leaders said was her comparison of the killing of four Jews at Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, France, with the deaths of children in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking at a conference on Palestinian refugees on Monday in Brussels, Ashton cited the tragedy of «young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances». She then mentioned the Toulouse shooting earlier on Monday, along with a massacre last year in a Norway summer camp, a bus crash in Switzerland that killed 22 Belgian school children a week ago, the current violence in Syria and «what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world».

Ashton later denied she had drawn any such parallel.

Ashton’s spokesperson issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the killings at the Jewish school. «In her remarks, the High Representative referred to tragedies taking the lives of children around the world and drew no parallel whatsoever between the circumstances of the Toulouse attack and the situation in Gaza», the statement said.

EJP and EJU strongly condemned in a statement the «comparison between the crimes of a cold-blooded anti-Semite murderer and a dictator who slaughters his own people or with the inevitable and regrettable civilian collateral damages resulting from a war opposing the Israeli democracy to terrorist organizations wholly dedicated to the eradication of the Jewish State».

«Lady Ashton should now have the decency to apologize or resign», the statement said.

«What Ashton said is an insult to the memory of the victims and could indirectly be interpreted by someone as a justification to kill Jews in Europe. She should apologize or step down immediately», EJU chief Tomer Orni said.

«Ashton’s comparison is outrageous! It is a political mistake and a moral fault», Joel Rubinfeld, EJP Co-Chairman said, accusing Palestinians of using «their own children as human shields».

EJU and EJP invited all Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, communities and individuals to join the campaign and sign the petition calling Ashton to «apologize or resign».

«What gets me especially incensed is the comparison between the targeted slaughter of children and the surgical, defensive activities of the (Israel Defense Forces) that are meant to hit terrorists who use children for human shields», Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on Tuesday.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also said the grouping of Gaza violence with the Toulouse shooting and the fighting in Syria was «infuriating and detached from reality».

Article publié sur Al Arabiya le 23 mars 2012.