A leading pro-Israel lobbyist in Brussels has made a series of racist comments about Muslims.
Alex Benjamin has been the director with both European Friends of Israel (EFI) and the newly-formed Europe Israel Public Affairs (EIPA) over the past six months. While speaking on behalf of each of those organizations, he has displayed an anti-Islam bias.
In December last year, Benjamin contended that one explanation for the willingess of some EU governments to recognize Palestine as a state was that "the demographics in Europe are changing."
"There is huge populations of Muslims in France, in Germany, all over the place," he says. "And politicians are finding, rightly or wrongly, that in order to get their votes they have to pander to certain stereotypes."
Those remarks were delivered during a program broadcast by Revelation TV, a channel identifying itself as Christian. Benjamin appeared on the same show in late February, by which time he had taken up his post with EIPA.
During that second appearance, he again infers that Muslims should be perceived as a hostile presence in Europe.
"I see anti-Semitism and the rise of fundamental Islam and the changing demographics in Europe as inexticably linked. It's a bit -- if I could use a rather crude analogy -- it's a bit like having a hornets' nest at the end of your garden."
He argues that the rise in anti-Semitism he perceives "can't just be because of Israeli actions." Then he says: "There's something more fundamental behind it. And it's not a very pleasant thing to do but sometimes you need to lift up the carpet and look at the horrible things underneath it."
Referring to new security measures taken in EU buildings following the January attacks on the French satiricial magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris, he says:
I use the analogy deliberately about the hornets' nest at the end of the garden and I would say that either you protect your house and you stop the hornets from flying in -- like we have outside the [European] Commission; like we have outside the [European] Parliament. That is a short-term solution. The hornets are still going to be there. So do you go down to the end of the garden and you try to deal with the nest or do you just try and protect yourself in the house and say "well listen, I'm too scared to go down there, I might get stung. I don't know what's going to happen. All I can do is stop them from getting in the house."
Comparing Muslims to hornets closely resembles the terminology by influential Israeli politicians when inciting hatred against Palestinians.
The late Rafael Eitan, who served as both chief of staff in the Israeli military and as a minister in several governments, once called Palestinians "drugged cockroaches in a bottle." Ayelet Shaked, Israel's new justice minister, has described Palestinian children as "little snakes."
Benjamin's repeated references to population issues also echoes how the Israeli elite considers Palestinian babies as a "demographic threat."
Arnon Soffer, an academic who has undertaken research for the Israeli military, said in 2004 that once Gaza's population reached 2.5 million "those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam." Soffer's recommendation for Israel was to "kill and kill and kill. All day, every day."
I contacted Benjamin on Thursday, asking him to clarify some of his comments. He did not reply to my email messages. When I phoned the EIPA office, I was told that he was away from Brussels.
Before he became a full-time Israel lobbyist, Benjamin worked as a press officer for British Conservative members of the European Parliament. His résumé includes, too, a stint as communications director with the Ulster Unionist Party in Belfast.
EIPA is one of several lobby groups trying to promote a positive image of Israel. In an attempt to distract from the crimes committed against the Palestinians, it has been using Facebook to highlight the aid which Israel provided to Nepal's earthquake victims and to celebrate innovations by Israeli scientists.
It is an offshoot of the similarly-named Europe Israel Press Association. Among the propaganda events that association has hosted was a talk given last year by Mordechai Kedar, an Israeli academic who has advocated that Israeli soldiers should rape Palestinian women.
Benjamin seems to be settling in nicely to his job. His racist remarks are perfectly in sync with the Israel lobby's toxic worldview.
•First published by The Electronic Intifada, 8 May 2015.