Thu, June 17, 2010 | OneJerusalem | Jerusalem Post | FriendsOfIsraelInitiative
Former Spanish President José María Aznar Stands Up For Israel
Initiated and led by Spain’s former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, a group of international leaders is to launch the “Friends of Israel Initiative,” a new project in defense of Israel’s right to exist. The leaders – who include the Nobel Peace Prize laureate David Trimble, Peru’s former president Alejandro Toledo, Italian philosopher Marcelo Pear, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and British historian Andrew Roberts – say they seek to counter the attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel and its right to live in peace within safe and defensible borders.
The initiative is being launched now, its sponsors said in a statement, because of their outrage and concern about the “unprecedented delegitimation campaign against Israel, driven by the enemies of the Jewish state and perversely assumed by numerous international authorities.” Israel “is a fully sovereign and responsible nation,” they added in their statement. “Although we can all disagree with some of its decisions, this fact should not be used as an excuse to question Israel’s right to exist, its legitimacy or its national rights. Just as the sponsors of this Initiative believe, there is no West without Israel.” [JPost, Mar 31, 2010]
In a powerful article in the Times of London, José María Aznar, (the President of Spain from 1996-2004) provides a rousing and eloquent defense of the State of Israel. Aznar also uses this opportunity to announce the launch of his new organization “Friends of Israel” composed primarily on non-Jewish Europeans and Americans. President Aznar is to be applauded for standing up for Israel, standing up for what is right. [OneJerusalem, May 17, 2010]
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 delegitimisation through international law and diplomacy.
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; 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.”
José María Aznar
Stand for Israel, Stand for the West
A Friends of Israel Initiative
The Friends of Israel have joined together in a new international initiative on the basis of the following convictions:
1. Israel is a Western country. With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law … with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.
2. Israel´s right to exist should not be questioned. In the face of a uniquely campaign of deligitimation, we remind all people of goodwill of the true historical context in which the State of Israel was re-established following United Nations Resolution 181 in 1947 … on land in which they have had an enduring presence and to which they have had a historical claim for thousands of years.
3. Israel, as a sovereign country, has the right to self-defense. Today, Israel has been forced to fight on two fronts: one to defend its borders and another to defend its legitimacy … Human rights statutes designed to defend the dignity of people everywhere, laws on universal jurisdiction intended to be used against criminals and tyrants and international bodies established to secure justice, have been subverted, their guiding principles stood on their head, to wage war against Israeli democracy. The campaign against Israel is corroding the international system from within.
4. Israel is on our side. With this in mind, we must be clear in recognizing that Israel’s fight is our fight. Western democracy will not prevail unless we recognize and assume the Judeo-Christian cultural and moral heritage which first gave rise to those institutions and the values which initially inspired them, and strengthen them. The assault on Israel is itself an assault on Judeo-Christian values.
5. We believe in peace, but peace in the Middle East is not just about Israel and the Palestinians. The key to ending this conflict is for the Palestinian side to unequivocally recognize Israel as the legitimate national homeland of the Jewish people. Once that step has been taken, good faith negotiations have a chance of achieving success.
6. We share the same threats and challenges. There are two related threats which also imperil the region, and the wider world: the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and jihadism; and the prospect of a nuclear Iran … For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last.
7. The goals of the Friends of Israel Initiative:
a) To combat the deligitimization of the State of Israel at home, abroad and inside the institutions of the international community.
b) To publicly show our solidarity with Israel’s democratic institutions – the legitimate expression of the Jewish people’s millennial aspiration to live in peace and freedom in its national homeland.
c) To support Israel’s inalienable right to secure borders unmolested by terrorists or tyrannical regimes so that its citizens can continue living with the same guarantees that our own societies enjoy.
d) To consistently and firmly oppose the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran.
e) To work to ensure that Israel is fully accepted as a normal Western country, an essential and indivisible part of the Western world to which we belong.
f) To reaffirm the value of the religious, moral, and cultural Judeo-Christian heritage as the main source of the liberal and democratic Western societies.
These convictions inspire this Friends of Israel Initiative. We invite all men and women of goodwill to join us.
You can click HERE to read the Manifesto of the Friends of Israel and sign on to its mission statement.