“Control your aid money and put me out of business”, Rockets into Rosses creator tells European Parliamentarians.
Strasbourg 6 October 2016. Israeli artist and Rockets into Roses creator Yaron Bob urged members of the European Parliament to increase their controls on EU aid into Gaza, so that they can put him out of business.
The Rockets into Roses creator, who takes rocket shells fired at Israel and transforms them into roses and other beautiful sculptures, exhibits his work around the world. He lives in Yated, southern Israel, which borders the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The area bore the brunt of thousands of indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza. It is also where many terror tunnels are routinely uncovered.
Mr Bob was in the European Parliament in Strasbourg for a week long exhibition of his work that was organised by Brussels based pro-Israel advocacy group Europe Israel Public Affairs and hosted by the Chairman of the European Parliament’s delegation to Israel, Fulvio Martusciello MEP.
Speaking to the Parliamentarians at an evening reception, Mr Bob said,
“Life is sometimes full of ironies. Here I am talking to you on the same day that a rocket landed in Sdrot, and the same day that the Gaza bound women’s flotilla sought to break the blockade.
“I can’t imagine that had they succeeded they would have asked for Hamas to return the millions it has stolen in aid money, to stop executing gays and lesbians or anyone who speaks against their death cult, much less ask Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel.
“But I can ask you, members of the European Parliament. You send millions into Gaza. Pease, please start properly controlling it. Spend it instead on education projects promoting peace, that teach children that terror and violence is not the answer. Hamas don’t care about their people. They only care about building rockets and digging tunnels.
“Control the aid, and put me out of business.”
EIPA director Alex Benjamin said,
“I fell in love with the concept of rockets into roses as soon as I saw it two years ago, and knew EIPA needed to bring the artist and his work to the European Parliament
“Judging by the positive reaction from parliamentarians, and staffers it seems that many shared my passion.
” It is such a strong and meaningful message, turning terror into beauty. And one that sums up Israeli resilience and the desire for peace. EIPA was proud to be part of it”
On July 12, EIPA, MEP Fulvio Martusciello and MEP Artis Pabriks hosted a hearing on conditioning EU AID going towards the Middle East. The hearing was entitled: “Is there a dark side to EU AID? Building safeguards and ‘conditionality’ for EU funding in the Middle East.”
The hearing also saw EIPA formally launch a Cross Party Working Group on EU AID in the MENA region. The Working Group is looking at building in ‘conditionality’ when it comes to EU funding in the Middle East.
‘Conditionality’ in plain English means that funding can be cut or stopped entirely when recipients directly promote or incite violence.
MEP Pabriks, who chaired the hearing, focused on the impact that conditionality would bring to EU Aid. A strong advocate of EU soft power, he underlined the importance of EU Aid in bringing peace to the region. However, it can’t be done without controls from elected officials of the EU he added.
Mr Hans Gustaf Wessberg, the Swedish member of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) explained the role of the ECA in the funding process, focusing on the auditing methods used in monitoring and assessing the efficacy and impact of the Aid programs on the ground.
Mr Wessberg himself personally led an audit team to the West Bank. His team went to Gaza but for security reasons he was advised not to go. The Court of Auditor’s report can be found HERE. The ECA found several irregularities, notably that EU funds are paying wages to PA officials in Gaza that are not working.
He concluded his presentation by stating that “The commission has not made sufficient use to leverage reforms in the civil area”, and that “conditionality should be used more”.
The third speaker was EIPA’s Director Alex Benjamin. His presentation gave the audience an overview of how EU funds are currently being used by the PA. The Palestinian Authority set up a Martyrs Fund, that pays the families of terrorists that have killed Israelis.
Many schools are also named after those terrorists, inciting the children to follow their example.
Members of the EU Parliament that attended the event were very interested and an Q&A followed the presentations.
The Working Group will meet for the first time this autumn.
For the only MEP elected to the European Parliament from Germany’s Family Party, Mr Gericke packs quite a punch. An outspoken critic of the erosion of family values, when he speaks in the European Parliament, people listen. But it is his unashamed support for the State of Israel, his love of the country and its democratic values, and his willingness to step up to the plate in defence of it that sets him apart for us here in EIPA.
As a member of EIPA’s advisory committee and a newly signed up member of a Parliamentary working group looking into accountability and conditionality of EU Aid as a whole, Mr Gericke is often seen speaking up on Israel’s behalf, either late into the night during Parliamentary debates in Strasbourg or first thing in the morning at briefings and events.
An articulate drafter of Parliamentary questions and also questions to the European Commission too, Arne Gericke has a knack of getting straight to the matter, leaving little wriggle room for opponents to try and untangle themselves. For these reasons and for being a great friend of EIPA’s as well as Israel’s, Mr Gericke you are our MEP of the month. Mazal Tov!