Thursday, 17 June 2010

Support Israel: If It Goes Down, We All Go Down

In a fantastically blunt op-ed in the Times today, Spain's former prime minister from 1996 - 2004, Jose Maria Aznar, urges people to "Support Israel: If it goes down, we all go down". On the flotilla incident, he observes:
"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.
He points out that Israel's legitimacy should not be a question, that Israel is "a dynamic and open society that has repeatedly excelled in culture, science and technology" and that "it is a normal Western nation, but one confronted by abnormal circumstances... the only democracy whose very existence has been questioned since its inception."
Whilst Israel is so often viewed as a threat, Aznar acknowledges that the real threat is "the rise of a radical Islamism which sees Israel’s destruction as the fulfilment of its religious destiny", and Israel is the world's first line of defence against this. The whole article is brilliant; and it gives me hope and faith that if Aznar can see and spell out the truth so clearly, perhaps a small number of open-minded people can see it too once they read the piece. Here is the best bit:
"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... 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."
So he was motivated to start a Friends of Israel initiative. He explains:
"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."
When you look at all the Israel-bashers who are so certain in their own morality, so sure that they're right and Israel is wrong, so confident that they know the answer to peace, and so blind of their own racism and antisemitism - and then ask the simple question, through all of their beliefs: Do you believe in Israel's right to exist and defend itself - the answer, if they looked deep inside themselves, and were brutally honest, would be no. 
Many people are open about this: "get out of 'Palestine'"; "there is no Israel"; "Zionism must be defeated"; and those people are mostly branded extremists. But the truth is probably most Israel-bashers feel that way, and they might not be open about it beacuse they'd fear being called antisemites, even though that's what they are.
There is no answer to antisemitism. Jews always have and always will be victims of baseless hatred. The only question is how and why antisemites express their hate through Israel-bashing. The answer is in an article Chas Newkey-Burden linked to on his blog, by Leon de Winter in the Wall Street Journal.
De Winter shrewdly observes that there is a "deep need... to call the Jews murderers" even when they're so obviously acting in self-defence, as with the flotilla. 
"This is why the Palestinians, as 'victims' of the Jews, are more important than the numerous Muslim victims of Muslim extremists; this is why millions of other Muslims living under worse conditions than the Palestinians hardly get any mention in the media; this is why Gaza is compared to the Warsaw Ghetto or Auschwitz. By calling the Israelis Nazis, the original Nazis have been legitimized."
There is not much that can be done about antisemitism and antisemitism that is disguised as anti-Zionism - except to expose it. And the way to do that is by asking the question that Aznar has evoked:
Do you believe in Israel's right to exist and defend itself, or not?
As long as people do not, then indeed if Israel goes down we all go down. And as any religious person will know, this is prophecised in Ezekiel 38-39.
Umm... what was I saying about hope?!

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