Rumsfeld ‘Amazed’ by Washington Treatment of Israel, Vice Premier Highlights ‘Conceptual Failure’ (PHOTOS)
Stressing that attributing current problems in the Middle East to the Israel- Palestinian conflict is a “continuous conceptual failure,” Vice Prime Minister Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon completed an intense journey to the United States during the fourth week of January. His voice was adamantly raised in defense of Israel.
On his final day of this trip to the United States, Ya’alon spoke in consultation with members of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations focusing on the Palestinian Authority campaign to “delegitimize, isolate and even prosecute Israel in international forums, including the United Nations and the International Criminal Court.” Current conditions in Gaza, and Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapon facilities and responses needed “to keep pressure on the regime” were among the topics discussed
Emphasizing that the dominating conflict in the region is about hegemony – Shiites in Iran, conflicts between the Sunni majority and the Alewite rulers in Syria, and Sunni governments – like Saudi Arabia or Turkey – competing for the lead position in the Arab Middle East, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon clearly stated that these international conflicts were not because of Israel. On the contrary, said the Vice Prime Minister, Israel is what is right about the Middle East, including its shared interests and values with the western democracies. Little was equivalent to the Iranian regime as the main generator for instability: “the Iranian fingerprint (is) in any conflict in the region,” whether through money, weapons, or training.
Of direct geographical concern is Iranian influenced development of “a terror center in Latin America, the United States’ back yard.” Ya’alon stated that the West, led by the United States must confront the Iranian regime. He ardently suggested that “It is not too late to put the regime away,” a consequence achievable by putting pressure using “all tools available” – political and economic sanctions, as well as credible military options. “Better to have spike in oil prices now because of sanctions” than what would occur if Iran succeeds in getting nuclear weaponry” and gains hegemony in the region. Preventing this option, said Yaalon is “important not just for Israel but for the safety and security of the entire world.” Iran must be forced “to choose between the pursuit of nuclear weapons capability and the survivability of the regime.” Yaalon believes that “survival” will dominate: “I am confident Iran will choose the survivability of the regime,” he said, referencing to the evidence of history: – in 2003, “following the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran suspended nuclear research. (Gadhafi eliminated Libya’s nuclear program altogether.”
Ya’alon had expressed similar sentiments in his speech the night before at the annual gathering of the American Friends of Likud. In an atmosphere of shared purpose and camaraderie, Awardee Revital Azulay dedicated her honor to the work and devotion of the Young leadership of the AFL. She stressed the value of education in the development of Jewish identity.
The Hon. Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s Finance Minister, a former professor of philosophy, has successfully maintained Israel’s financial stability despite deeply troubled international economic conditions. Steinmetz expressed his appreciation to “all of the friends of Likud – really friends of Israel …it’s always wonderful to be among friends,” he mused.
Yuval recalled his participation in the “Group of Eight,” a policy making committee of which both he and VPM Ya’alon are members. He underscored the importance of a strong economy to “support education and arms.” Israel had “managed to overcome global crisis…….not just to survive but to strengthen the economy” experiencing growth of almost 5% for each of the last two years. Israel, said Steinitz is the “only Western country to not just regain but to increase its economy dramatically…despite all the difficulties.” “This little vibrant Jewish democracy is growing stronger and stronger through the decades.”
Taking the podium “among friends who know how to appreciate what is done in Israel,” VPM Ya’alon, a former IDF General who has played an integral part in the development of the defensible borders initiative, discussed the “challenges facing Israel, the United States and the free world.” From Jerusalem, he said “the Arab spring seems like an Islamic winter – a conceptual failure” having nothing to do with the Israel. The actual focus is on “hegemony in the region.”
Regarding the Israel – Palestinian conflict, the misconception, said Ya’alon, is that it is about territory rather than “reluctance to recognize Israel’s right to exist.”
Yaalon expressed his “confidence based on our righteousness: supporters of the State of Israel, together with the United States are going to prevail.” His closing cheer of “Am Yisrael Chai” brought the audience to its feet in a standing ovation.
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld found the AFL gathering an appreciative audience. The Secretary said the United States “looks to Israel for lessons in fighting terrorism – based on her many years of experience.” He praised Israel’s economic reliance as “a testimony to a country welcoming of investment and enterprise.”
In accepting the Menachem Begin Award, Rumsfeld praised Prime Minister Netanyahu as one to whom the adjective “courage” applies. America had benefited from his counsel to “be more deliberate in coalition building: the mission must determine the coalition, not the coalition determines the mission.”
Mr. Rumsfeld elicited an especially warm response, stating “I am proud to stand with the American Friends of Likud, especially as some distance themselves from Israel. In my over 79 years, I have seen strange things done in name of diplomacy. Even I find it amazing to watch Washington’s current treatment of Israel.” He continued “you have a great many friends in the United States. I know that millions across the US appreciate and support the Israeli people…. Israel is not the cause for the region’s turmoil. The United States knows the miracle that is the Jewish State….For Israel, courage is a necessity.” Secretary Rumsfeld concluded his remarks saying “Americans eventually make the right choice. Our people will stand with Israel – as we should and as we must.” All assembled rose as the room resounded with appreciation and applause.