Former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar announced recently that he planned to promote a new initiative which would defend Israel's right to exist, as "if Israel goes down, we all go down," the former premier wrote in London newspaper The Times on Thursday.
"Israel is our first line of defense in a turbulent region that is constantly at risk of descending into chaos," Aznar wrote, adding that "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."
The Friends for Israel initiative will include prominent political figures and academics such as Irish Nobel Prize laureate David Trimble (Irish Nobel Prize laureate and a panel member in Israel's internal investigation into the Gaza flotilla raid), Andrew Roberts (British hostorian) John Bolton (former United States Ambassador to the United Nations), 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, Aznar wrote in The Times.
Spain and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1975, however the ties between the two countries have not always been strong. In 2006, following the Second Lebanon War, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero accused Israel of "abusive force" which Israel strongly condemned.
Israel's envoy to Spain said at the time that the two countries' relations had been damaged after the Spanish prime minister's speech, during which he wore a Palestinian scarf. Spain's Jewish community accused Zapatero of being anti-Semitic, however tensions have since eased.
"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." Aznar wrote of his initiative which aims to support Israel despite the onslaught of criticism over a recent Israeli raid on a Freedom Flotilla headed to Gaza, in which nine activists were killed. " 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."
Aznar went on to state that Israel's right to exist should not be questioned as it was established by a United Nations decision, and added that as a nation with "deeply rooted democratic institutions," Israel is the only Western country that exists under constant threat of attack, whether it be from its neighboring countries or Iran.
"The real threats to regional stability," Azner wrote, "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."
Azner stressed, however, that the initiative would not defend any specific Israeli policies, but rather "what binds us is our unyielding support for Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself."
The former Spanish premier ended his opinion by highlighting Israel's central role in defining the West and said that "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."
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now