The MasterBlog: José María Aznar: Supporting Israel
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

José María Aznar: Supporting Israel

José María Aznar: Supporting Israel  
by José María Aznar <>
If Israel goes down, we all go down.
Anger over Gaza is a distraction. We cannot forget that Israel is the  West’s best ally in a turbulent region

For far too long now it has been unfashionable in Europe to speak up  for Israel. In the wake of the recent incident on board a ship full  of anti-Israeli activists in the Mediterranean, it is hard to think  of a more unpopular cause to champion.

In an ideal world, the assault by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara  would not have ended up with nine dead and a score wounded. In an ideal  world, the soldiers would have been peacefully welcomed on to the ship.  In an ideal world, no state, let alone a recent ally of Israel such  as Turkey, would have sponsored and organized a flotilla whose sole  purpose was to create an impossible situation for Israel: making it  choose between giving up its security policy and the naval blockade,  or risking the wrath of the world.

In our dealings with Israel, we must blow away the red mists of anger  that too often cloud our judgment. A reasonable and balanced approach  should encapsulate the following realities: first, the state of Israel  was created by a decision of the UN. Its legitimacy, therefore, should  not be in question. Israel is a nation with deeply rooted democratic  institutions. It is a dynamic and open society that has repeatedly excelled  in culture, science and technology.

Second, owing to its roots, history, and values, Israel is a fully fledged  Western nation. Indeed, it is a normal Western nation, but one confronted  by abnormal circumstances.

Uniquely in the West, it is the only democracy whose very existence  has been questioned since its inception. In the first instance, it was  attacked by its neighbors using the conventional weapons of war. Then  it faced terrorism culminating in wave after wave of suicide attacks.  Now, at the behest of radical Islamists and their sympathizers, it faces  a campaign of delegitimization through international law and diplomacy.
Sixty-two years after its creation, Israel is still fighting for its  very survival.
Sixty-two years after its creation,  Israel is still fighting for its very survival. Punished with missiles  raining from north and south, threatened with destruction by an Iran  aiming to acquire nuclear weapons and pressed upon by friend and foe,  Israel, it seems, is never to have a moment’s peace.

For years, the focus of Western attention has understandably been on  the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. But if Israel is  in danger today and the whole region is slipping towards a worryingly  problematic future, it is not due to the lack of understanding between  the parties on how to solve this conflict. The parameters of any prospective  peace agreement are clear, however difficult it may seem for the two  sides to make the final push for a settlement.

The real threats to regional stability, however, are to be found in  the rise of a radical Islamism which sees Israel’s destruction as  the fulfillment of its religious destiny and, simultaneously in the  case of Iran, as an expression of its ambitions for regional hegemony.  Both phenomena are threats that affect not only Israel, but also the  wider West and the world at large.

The core of the problem lies in the ambiguous and often erroneous manner  in which too many Western countries are now reacting to this situation.  It is easy to blame Israel for all the evils in the Middle East. Some  even act and talk as if a new understanding with the Muslim world could  be achieved if only we were prepared to sacrifice the Jewish state on  the altar. This would be folly.
Israel is our first line of defense in a turbulent region that is constantly  at risk of descending into chaos.
Israel is our first line of defense  in a turbulent region that is constantly at risk of descending into  chaos; a region vital to our energy security owing to our overdependence  on Middle Eastern oil; a region that forms the front line in the fight  against extremism. If Israel goes down, we all go down.

To defend Israel’s right to exist in peace, within secure borders,  requires a degree of moral and strategic clarity that too often seems  to have disappeared in Europe. The United States shows worrying signs  of heading in the same direction.

The West is going through a period of confusion over the shape of the  world’s future. To a great extent, this confusion is caused by a kind  of masochistic self-doubt over our own identity; by the rule of political  correctness; by a multiculturalism that forces us to our knees before  others; and by a secularism which, irony of ironies, blinds us even  when we are confronted by jihadis promoting the most fanatical incarnation  of their faith. To abandon Israel to its fate, at this moment of all  moments, would merely serve to illustrate how far we have sunk and how  inexorable our decline now appears.

This cannot be allowed to happen. Motivated by the need to rebuild our  own Western values, expressing deep concern about the wave of aggression  against Israel, and mindful that Israel’s strength is our strength  and Israel’s weakness is our weakness, I have decided to promote a  new Friends of Israel initiative with the help of some prominent people,  including David Trimble, Andrew Roberts, John Bolton, Alejandro Toledo  (the former President of Peru), Marcello Pera (philosopher and former  President of the Italian Senate), Fiamma Nirenstein (the Italian author  and politician), the financier Robert Agostinelli and the Catholic intellectual  George Weigel.

It is not our intention to defend any specific policy or any particular  Israeli government. The sponsors of this initiative are certain to disagree  at times with decisions taken by Jerusalem. We are democrats, and we  believe in diversity.

What binds us, however, is our unyielding support for Israel’s right  to exist and to defend itself. For Western countries to side with those  who question Israel’s legitimacy, for them to play games in international  bodies with Israel’s vital security issues, for them to appease those  who oppose Western values rather than robustly to stand up in defense  of those values, is not only a grave moral mistake, but a strategic  error of the first magnitude.

Israel is a fundamental part of the West. The West is what it is thanks  to its Judeo-Christian roots. If the Jewish element of those roots is  upturned and Israel is lost, then we are lost too. Whether we like it  or not, our fate is inextricably intertwined.

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