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Friday, January 5, 2007

We need to be part of the EU and NATO

We need to be part of the EU and NATO
Avigdor Lieberman,

In my very first political science lecture in the Hebrew University in the early 1980s, I was taught that international politics were governed by State interests. In all my years in Israeli politics and as a third-time minister, I have yet to see this theory implemented in Israel.
I believe it was Henry Kissinger who once said that Israel has no foreign policy, only domestic. The sad reality of today is that the State of Israel has never defined, and rarely acted in accordance with its national interests. The few examples I can think of include Israel going to war over the Egyptian nationalization of the Suez Canal and restriction of Israeli marine traffic in 1956, the 1981 attack against the Iraqi nuclear facility and the 1995 peace agreement with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
I have recently suggested that it is in Israel's national interest to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The world today is a less hospitable place to our democracy. The second half of the twentieth century witnessed a world divided over economic doctrines and political thought. I myself was born in Moldova, a country taken over by the Soviet Union in 1944, and spent my childhood under the rule of a harsh totalitarian regime (until my family made aliya in 1978, when I was 20 years old).
Today's world is dividing over values. On the one side is the free, democratic world, and on the other side is the radical, fundamentalist world. We might have disagreements with Europe and the international community over foreign policy, but we share the same values system that is the target of the radical, fundamentalist war against the West.
The great danger in this global conflict is that we are facing non-rational players. Take Bin Laden for example - there is nothing you can offer him to stop his war against the free world - no amount of money, no piece of territory, no agreement - his goal is to convert the entire world to Islam, or send all infidels to heaven. There is no sense in rationalizing with this kind of enemy.
Not a single Islamic leader - political or spiritual - has condemned the death sentence against Salman Rushdie, and even today he has to live in hiding between London and Paris. Not a single Islamic leader has ever condemned the Taliban's destruction of the Buddha sculptures in Afghanistan. The Muslim world's reaction to cartoons about the prophet Muhammad and to Pope Benedict XVI's speech are irrational.
My goal for Israel is to complete this global re-positioning within the coming five years. This move will send a strong message not only to our enemies, but also to our friends and allies.
One last note: readers are aware of the letter I sent to incumbent UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who said that the Israeli-Palestinian issue was at the core of solving all the problems in the Middle East.
Someone pointed out to me a very poignant comment posted on a talkback to the article about this letter, by Bob in the US: "Last week I appeared in court because I was doing 20 miles over the speed limit. I flat out told the presiding judge "I'm not paying the fine until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved." His exact words were "What the Hell does the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have to do with anything?" I ask the same question.
Thanks, Bob.

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