No permanent allies or enemies: only permanent interests
Aware that President Erdogan remains an aggressive Islamist and presumably harbors as much love for Israelis as we do for him, the government was strongly criticized for the unpalatable concessions it granted in order to restore economic and diplomatic relations with Turkey.
The reality is that we have become increasingly conscious that alliances are not exclusively based on shared values or feelings of friendship. Obviously a shared Judea-Christian heritage is a major asset as evidenced by the love for Israel shared by evangelical Christians in the US which became an important factor restraining the Obama administration from abandoning Israel in order curry favor with Islamic states.
In contrast, the absence of a strong pro-Israeli element in Europe, facilitated the increasingly hostile European Union approaches against Israel.
European soil was drenched in Jewish blood during the Nazi era, aided and abetted in most cases by local collaborators. Today Europe faces an onslaught both internally and externally from Islamic fundamentalism which is challenging its social order. At the frontline of the battle against Islamic terrorism is Israel, an oasis of democracy and stability in a region dominated by barbarism reminiscent of the Dark Ages.
Yet despite hypocritical calls for peace, Europe remains passive as the Muslim-dominated global community campaigns to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state. The EU has applied moral equivalence towards Israel’s self-defense and the criminal Palestinian regime which incites and sanctifies killers. It has sought to pressure Israel into accepting indefensible borders and is orchestrating efforts to force Israel to unilaterally provide further concessions that could endanger its existence.
In this context Brexit may alleviate the situation by weakening the control of the post-modernist EU bureaucrats, many of whom regard any nation state and in particular Israel, as remnants of a bygone era of nationalism and imperialism. They also undoubtedly now face their own nationalist problems.
The Netanyahu government is moving away from what was hitherto almost total dependency on the United States and is seeking to bolster relations with other countries. These efforts have been accelerated by the Obama Administration’s undisguised attempts to create daylight in its relationship with Israel in order to appease Moslem states hostile to Israel, in particular the Iranian terrorist state.
Today Israel welcomes alliances based on pragmatic mutual economic, political or defense interests. Turkey fits into this category as do a number of Arab countries threatened with ISIS and or Iranian hegemony. Saudi Arabia (and the Gulf States), currently at least, are willing to covertly benefit from an Israeli military presence in the region. But we should be under no illusions. For generations the Saudis, like inhabitants of most Arab states, have been exposed to intensive anti-Semitic indoctrination – both religious and political. The Wahhabi religious teachings continue to promote obscene Nazi-style stereotypes of Jews and the mullahs tell their followers that we are direct descendants of apes and pigs.
Yet astonishingly, in the wake of a failed Muslim Brotherhood government, today we find ourselves sharing common interests with Egypt in combating ISIS and extremism in the Sinai Peninsula which also includes Hamas. Taking account of the bitter anti-Semitism which permeated Egyptian society, it is a remarkable situation for Egyptian President Sissi to be calling for the eradication of Islamic fundamentalism and extremism in religious dialogue and this week formally dispatching his Foreign Minister to meet Netanyahu in Jerusalem. But we should not delude ourselves that Sissi has become transformed Sissi into a lover of Zion.
These developments require constant juggling. For example, Israel created mutual interest-based relations with the Greeks and Cypriots who had previously bitterly opposed us and we must endeavor to retain these ties despite our new relationship with Turkey.
Our most extraordinary, even dazzling relationship is with the Russians. Who could have envisioned that a former KGB officer, now President of Russia would hold more annual meetings with the Israeli Prime minister than the US president? And that this Russian president speaks in endearing terms about Jews in his country and his admiration for Israel. The arrangement between Russia and Israel since their involvement in the Middle East bloodbath on the borders of Israel, is unprecedented and extraordinary. But despite what seems to be a genuine affinity between President Putin and Israel, if current mutual interests conflict we should be under no illusions.
We have also made significant progress in our relations with the two emergent superpowers India and China as well as other South East Asian nations and Netanyahu’s visit to Africa last week was a great success. We must now concentrate on persuading these nations to extend the economic cooperation to politics and convince them to cease voting against us at the biased international venues such as the currently biased and hostile UN.
To sum up, this is a new ball game and we must tread cautiously and harbor no illusions.
We still look towards the US as our principal ally but cannot
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