An international group of leading politicians, business and thought leaders have formed a new group called “Friends of Israel Initiative”. As the name suggests, the purpose of the group is to support Israel. The support for Israel is different than what one would expect. Its stated goal is to bring reason and decency back to the discussion of Israel which in some circles is considered a pariah.
The group is composed of prominent individuals from both western democracies and third world countries. The list includes leaders from the U.S. (John Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations and George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center), Spain (Jose Maria Aznar, former prime minister and Carlos Bustelo, former minister of industry), Northern Ireland (David Trimble, former 1st minister), Peru (Alejandro Toledo, former president), Italy (Marcello Pera, former president of the senate and Fiamma Nirenstein of the Committee on Foreign Affairs), England (Andrew Roberts, acclaimed historian) and France (Robert Agostinelli, managing director of the Rhone group LLC).
This eclectic group is tired and more so, afraid, of the unfair bashing that Israel has suffered especially in situations where it acted in its own self defense like the recent flotilla crisis and the conflict in Gaza. It seeks to change the negative image Israel has in the minds of many people and to turn the focus to its right as a democracy to self defense and peaceful coexistence. The Group also stresses the linkage between the U.S. and other democracies to the fate of Israel implying that what hurts Israel will eventually hurt other democracies.
In an article published in the Wall Street Journal, the Group set forth its beliefs, principles and aims.
First, Israel is a normal Western democracy with characteristics common to Western society like a parliamentary and legal system and strong educational, cultural and research institutions.
Second, Israel has the right to exist as a country and derives its legitimacy from internal law through the 1947 U.N. resolution that created it. It is established on land that has had unbroken Jewish connections for thousands of years.
Third, it has the basic right to self defense as all countries do. This is all the more important as it is surrounded by terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.
Fourth, countries that oppose terrorist and radical Islam need to remember that Israel is on their side and is on the front line of that fight. The democratic world cannot sacrifice Israel to appease Islamism without losing their own battle eventually.
Fifth, the Israelis and Palestinians must know how to and construct a viable peace on their own. Other good intentioned countries can try to facilitate the process but the two parties must find the solution.
Sixth and finally, all people need to be aware that the campaign against Israel today in many parts of the world and in institutions like the U.N. has the possibility of reawakening anti-Semitism that has plagued the world in the past.
This is a good and important start for a global effort to restore Israel’s standing in the world community. Strong voices and actions by individuals like these who can see clearly the ugliness and the unfairness of attacks on Israel and who seek to change the mindset of nations and their leaders is an important step to protect Israel and thereby democracy itself. It is proof once again of how interlocked countries are to each other. The days of appeasement have to be over or the lesson learned in the 1940s will be repeated. This time with more deadly consequences.