Support Israel: If it goes down, we all go down .
by Jose Maria Aznar

Published: 19 July 2010
Briefing Number 263



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Summary:  This Briefing reproduces an opinion piece by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, which appeared in the London-based Times newspaper on 17 June 2010.  Aznar is spearheading a new ‘friends of Israel’ project, arguing that “if Israel goes down, we all go down”. 

Rather than examining the Gaza flotilla incident (after which this was written) Aznar explains what he describes as the ‘bigger picture’. Such expressions of support for Israel are becoming rarer all the time.  Many of Israel’s detractors would challenge virtually every point he makes.  As Aznar himself acknowledges, supporters of Israel are under constant assault. 

Aznar’s piece speaks for itself. We have just added the section sub-headings.    

Support Israel: if it goes down, we all go down

By Jose Maria Aznar, The Times 17 June 2010
  
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-Israel 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 organised 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.

Israel’s legitimacy should not be in question….

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 neighbours 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 sympathisers, it faces a campaign of delegitimisation through international law and diplomacy. 

Israel is still fighting for its survival….

Sixty two years after its creation, Israel is still fighting for its very survival.  Punished with missiles raining down 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 the 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.
Radical Islamism, and not Israel, is the real threat to stability…..

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 fulfilment 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 of 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 defence…..

Israel is our first line of defence in a turbulent region that is constantly at risk of descending into chaos; a region vital to our energy security owing to our over-dependence on Middle Eastern oil; a region that forms the front line in the fight against extremism.  If Israel goes down, we all go down.

 

Some related Beyond Images Briefings

Briefing 262 – “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about territory.  The solution is  ‘land for peace’….” (19 July 2010)
 
Briefing 249 – The roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the ongoing Arab denial of Israel’s legitimacy (10 December 2009)

Briefing 190 – Peace with Israel as ‘capitulation’ – the root cause of the conflict
(28 February 2007)