The "earthquake" claim was made by an unnamed official who was widely quoted in the press. The official had voiced displeasure at new EU "guidelines" stating that the Union would not award subsidies to Israeli firms or institutions based in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem).
I was skeptical of these guidelines. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu depicted them as an existential threat to Israel, my feeling was that they did little more than reiterate the EU's official policies. Because they did not seem to be accompanied by a proper monitoring system, I also felt that it would be easy for Israeli institutions or companies active in the West Bank to circumvent them.
The latest available data on Horizon 2020, the EU's scientific research program, proves that my skepticism was well-founded.
After navigating my way through a spreadsheet that was the polar opposite of user-friendly, I calculated that Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been allocated nearly €14 million ($15 million) under the program so far. A significant part of Hebrew University is located in East Jerusalem.
My spreadsheet trawl was prompted by the patronizing reply I received when I complained to the European Commission about how it was continuing to subsidize Hebrew University. Robert-Jan Smits, head of the Commission's research department, told me to "rest assured" that projects involving Hebrew University had been subject to an "ethics review procedure."
Smits explained that Hebrew University is required to make a declaration when applying for EU grants that it will not carry out any of the research in question on land captured by Israel in 1967. "According to our official records and its self-declaration, the place of establishment of Hebrew University of Jerusalem is within the pre-1967 borders," Smits wrote.
If Smits and his colleagues examined Hebrew University's own publications, they would find details which contradict that "self-declaration."
A "students' guide" published by the university notes that before 1967, Hebrew University's original Mount Scopus headquarters was "an Israeli enclave in the eastern part of the city, then under Jordanian control."
The booklet adds that "expansion of the campus began" with the "reunification of Jerusalem in 1967."
"Reunification" is Israel's euphemism for its brutal military occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem. The European Union has refused to confer any recognition on that blatant theft of Palestinian territory.
Hebrew University encroached directly into land around Mount Scopus that Israel confiscated from Palestinians in the early stages of the 1967 occupation.
The "self-declaration" to which Smits alluded is, therefore, worthless.
Similarly, it is hard to have any confidence in the ethics review procedure" about which he wants me to "rest assured."
A lawyer familiar with this procedure recently told me that it is little more than a "box-ticking" exercise. In most cases, it involves a "screening" of grant applications, rather than a rigorous assessment.
There is no reason to believe that those overseeing this procedure have challenged the veracity of Hebrew University's "self-declaration."
Israel is taking part in an equal basis to the EU's own countries in the Union's research activities. Hebrew University was the main Israeli beneficiary of the EU's previous science program between 2007 and 2013.
The EU's 2013 guidelines have had no effect either on funding for Israel's weapons industry. More than 70 of the Union's elected representatives recently called for Elbit Systems, a leading Israeli arms firm, to be excluded from Horizon 2020.
From searching through the EU's records, I found at least one Horizon 2020 grant already approved for Elbit. It has been given €400,000 ($436,000) to take part in an airport security project.
Profiting from war crimes
Elbit and Israel Aerospace Industries were the two main suppliers of drones used to attack Palestinians in Gaza during July and August last year. Despite its profiting from war crimes, IAI has also been awarded at least two Horizon 2020 grants to date.
Their combined value comes to more than €2 million ($2.2 million).
Elta Systems, a subsidiary of IAI, is taking part in Horizon 2020, too.
The European Commission is part of a "troika" that is inflicting enormous hardship on Greece. It has refused to respect the clear rejection of the Union's austerity agenda by Greek voters in both an election and a referendum.
Considering its contempt for democracy within Europe, nobody should be surprised that the Commission is at variance with public opinion on Palestine.
The EU's citizens have demonstrated their solidarity with the Palestinians by marching against the attacks on Gaza and by refusing to buy Israeli goods. Smits has, instead, actively encouraged Israel to milk the EU's science program.
During 2014, he told a Horizon 2020 launch event that Israel's scientific cooperation with the EU has been "a success for both sides."
Regurgitating Zionist propaganda, he praised Israel as a "start-up nation."
The 2014 attack on Gaza was a showcase for the "start-up nation." Cutting-edge drones were tested out in bombing raids against a besieged population.
Those drones were developed by the same arms companies that the EU is happy to subsidize. Until those subsidies stop, it would be foolish to "rest assured" about anything.
•First published by The Electronic Intifada, 22 July 2015.