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February 7, 2014 4:07 pm

Former Spanish PM Aznar: Israel Needed by European Union, Should be Accepted as Member State

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar at the British House of Commons at an event co-sponsored by the Henry Jackson Society and his own foundation, Friends of Israel. Photo: Screenshot / HJS.

Former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar at the British House of Commons at an event co-sponsored by the Henry Jackson Society and his own foundation, Friends of Israel. Photo: Screenshot / HJS.

Former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar said Israel is needed by the European Union, in an address at the British House of Commons last week.

At an event co-sponsored by the Henry Jackson Society think-tank and his own foundation, the Friends of Israel Initiative, Aznar said, “Simply put, Europe must defend Israel if we want to preserve the West as we know it.”

“Look at the changes sweeping the region,” Aznar said. “Uncertainty is the dominant factor. And Israel is both more important to the West today – and more besieged by hostility – than at any time in recent memory.”

His speech described the many avenues of collaboration between Israel and the European Union outside of the political realm, including co-operation in defense, commerce and scientific advancement, as detailed in a monograph he published called, ‘Value Added: Israel’s Strategic Worth to the European Union and its Member States,’ produced jointly by the two groups.

“Indeed, when considering the full picture of the strategic relationship (including not just diplomacy, but the equally critical realms of security; economy; and science) the close nature of the EU-Israel alliance becomes clear. Not only is Israel’s relationship with the EU and its member states closer than commonly portrayed, but, in the final analysis, it represents a strategic asset to the Union and its members. We in the EU will be unable to emerge from our present crises safe, prosperous, innovative and influential without strong state-to-state relations at home, and healthy alliances with strategic partners in our neighborhood.”

“We must start by acknowledging and enhancing our critical strategic relationship with the State of Israel. The EU has only to escape from the childish temptation of almost constant condemnation of Israel, and think as we do in our report about the specific gains that we are getting from Israel. It is in the self-interest of Europeans to treat Israel with fairness and kindness.”

In the report, on defense issues, Israel was lauded as the world’s sixth-largest exporter of military and security equipment, as the first country in the world to produce unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), and today as the world’s leading producer of UAVs. British, Spanish and troops of other EU states have been protected by Israeli drones in Afghanistan.

Israeli technology protects European icons including the Eiffel Tower, the Vatican and Buckingham Palace, and it has world-class intelligence capabilities. Israel’s intelligence on Middle Eastern rogue states and terrorist groups (particularly Hezbollah) is crucial to the security of the EU, which faces many of the same threats.

In commerce, the EU is Israel’s leading source of imports and second-leading export destination after the United States. Israel is the EU’s top commercial partner in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The total trade relationship between the EU and Israel is roughly €30 billion. Israel has weathered the global economic crisis far better than any EU state, and is third worldwide in terms of projected growth. Having recently discovered large natural gas fields, Israel offers Europe stability in its energy economy and is a solid alternative to the unreliable and authoritarian regimes of Russia and the Persian Gulf states.

In the areas of science and technology, Israel has over the last two decades become a high-tech and innovation powerhouse: Israel has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than any country outside North America; it has the third-highest rate of entrepreneurship worldwide; 11% of the nearly 300 projects approved by the European Research Council in 2013 went to young Israeli scientists, putting it behind only Germany and the UK.

Aznar said his report recommends that due to its Western culture and the benefits it brings the European Union, Israel should become a full member of the EU without pre-conditions.

Recent discriminatory measures only serve to confirm Israeli suspicions of European hostility, Aznar said.

Europe and Israel have clashed over the alleged disproportionality of Israel’s military campaigns in Gaza and Lebanon, and its continued building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In 2013, the European Commission set guidelines prohibiting EU funds from going to Israeli entities beyond the country’s pre- 1967 ‘Green Line’ boundary. Palestinian incitement is not condemned by the EU as are Israeli settlements. This perception of hostility could mean Israelis will become more inclined to do business with the growing economies of the Far East rather than the EU.

During questions, Aznar argued that while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s new Mideast peace initiative is promising, it is unfair and unthinkable for Israel to sign an agreement with a state that refuses to acknowledge the Jewish state’s right to exist. Europe must defend Israel if we want to preserve the West and its way of life. Israel’s relationship with the EU and its member states is closer than commonly portrayed, and Israel is an enormously valuable asset to Europe. For the EU’s sake, this strategic relationship must be not only acknowledged but enhanced, Aznar said.

I have long believed that Israel needs dedicated friends defending it from unjust and mistaken campaigns against its legitimacy,” he said.

“Four years ago I decided it was time to take this stand forcefully, publicly and effectively. I called upon a number of friends— some Nobel Prize winners, Like Lord Trimble of Northern Ireland, some former presidents like me, like Luis Alberto Lacalle from Uruguay and Alejandro Toledo from Peru and some foreign ministers as well, like Alexander Downer from Australia or my friend and hero the late Vaclav Havel, among others—to establish a high-level group dedicated to fighting the growing chorus trying to isolate and delegitimize Israel.”

“We work to show Israel as a normal country, with all the virtues and imperfections of any democratic country in the world. This is not to say that friends should avoid criticizing each other, but I believe the international community – and especially Europe – has an obligation to manage its conversation with Israel in a far more honorable and open”minded manner.”

“The Initiative is neither a public relations campaign, nor a so-called Jewish lobby,” Aznar said. “Most of us are not Jewish, but we share the vision – as much one of values as of strategy – that when defending Israel we are defending the West.  We are defending our way of life and values, and also our interests.”

Aznar, a former tax inspector who led Spain’s conservative Popular Party in government for two terms, reformed the Spanish economy through privatizing state monopolies and bringing Spain’s grey market onto the books. He also brought Spain into international focus by backing UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George Bush in toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.

But his final days in office were marred by the 2004 Al Qaeda terrorist attack that sought to destabilize the Allies’ resolve in Iraq, with the death of nearly 200 Spaniards at a Madrid train station enough to push voters in the impending general election towards supporting the Socialist Workers Party candidate, who had vowed to withdraw Spanish troops from the conflict.

Out of office, Aznar, whose cabinet had insisted the terror attack was the work of ETA, Spain’s domestic terror threat that fights Madrid for Basque independence, became a scholar of the religious war engulfing the West, emerging as a strong supporter of Israel. A visiting professor at Georgetown University, Aznar led the creation of the Friends of Israel Initiative in 2010.

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  • Michael

    Not that Israel should join the EU, but it is a nice offer that shows some rare support and solidarity for Israel.
    And it is not a realistic offer anyway as EU today is soaked in antisemitism (i.e hatred towards Jews, not Arabs!)

  • Raymond in DC

    “Aznar said his report recommends that … Israel should become a full member of the EU without pre-conditions.”

    With all due respect to Aznar, Israel should seek EU membership like a 20-year drought. Except that member status will bring Israel low even faster. Think about it. Free flow of labor into Israel. Political directives from the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. “Human rights” and welfare for terrorists, as directed by EU courts. And Catherine Ashton as your “Foreign Minister”!

    Closer association, cooperation, and better, fairer treatment – not to mention the respect Israel is due – are one thing. But EU membership? No thanks.

    • cityca

      Raymond in DC – you are 100% right, and that’s from a Brit who would love to quit the EU, along with many (probably a majority), of my compatriots.

      The EU is simply an unaccountable club of mainly unelected bureaucrats, who milk it to their own benefit. The Human Rights laws are ludicrous, the accounts for the EU have AFAIK never been signed off, and it takes the concept of big government into a new dimension.

      Israel, please, please do not join or attempt to join, the EU.

  • m_

    Aznar is 100% correct on this issue. We should welcome his support and solidarity with Israel. He represents the best of the Spanish and European people.

  • Eric R.

    Aznar is a very good man. However, he must know that most Europeans are too addicted to fanatic, genocidal Jew-hatred to think rationally about Jews. They are simply incapable of doing so. They imbibe this genocidal Jew-hatred from their mother’s milk.

    • m_

      Your remarks hurt the cause of Israel and are racist at their core. Many Europeans have actively supported Israel. During the Second World War thousands of European Christians and others risked their lives to save Jews from Hitler. So much for your bigoted theory of “mother’s milk.”

      • shloime

        you are absolutely right – thousands saved jews, while millions helped to murder them.

        and even those “saints” as the catholic church insists on calling them, such as the wartime pope, refused to return the jewish children that they “saved” to the jewish community, preferring instead to conceal their identities, and denying them the free choice to return to the religion of their parents, even 70 years later.

        i don’t see that as “saving” but as “soul-stealing”.

        • m_

          Many Catholics and other Christians saved Jewish children and did not in any way attempt to convert them. These people risked their lives to save Jewish lives. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and vengeful hate and lies, why not be thankful for those who saved Jewish lives and be glad when a European leader shows support for Israel. Israeli government leaders don’t engage in the type of sick, dead-end and pointless finger-pointing you love to do. Israel needs friends. Open your eyes and realize that we are going though difficult times, isolating ourselves from friends and potential friends is pointless and reckless and hateful.

      • Eric R.

        For every European that risked their life to save Jews in WW 2, 100 helped kill them.

        Now, you Europeans want to finish Hitler’s work.

        But I’m the racist for calling out Europe for its history of hating and killing Jews?

        Please take your obscene accusations of racism and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine.

        • shloime

          i believe your estimate of 1% is unreasonably high; i once read an estimate that 1% of the wartime french population actively particpated in the resistance, even though, miraculously, nearly 100% of frenchmen today claim to be descended from them.

          a more telling statistic would be the percentages that took an active part in persecuting and killing jews – like the ukrainians who joined the ss, or the poles who killed returning survivors so they wouldn’t claim their homes back. or the “less harmful” ones, who “just” turned jews over to the nazis and the einsatzgruppen.

          i can make a good guess which way the balance would tip, and millions of silent victims would agree with me.

          • tuv

            Shloime,you are correct But what is the answer ?Does Israel withdraw into itself and man the barricades or does it respond to genuine friends such as Aznar
            Of course Israel should not become another European state but should maintain its special Jewish character
            anything Less is not on the table

      • Joseph Kelly

        We cannot take away the righteous Christian support for Israel! I have very good and dear Christian friends.

        However for oil and for lucrative contracts, Europe foolishly made a pact with the devil and accepted the 7th century Muslims as equals into their lives. These people came with their blatant anti Semitic and anti Western worldview. European citizens were falsely told that the Muslims born in Europe would Europeans in word and deed. Boy were they wrong, but Europe cannot have a ‘reset’ button and evict them all.

        These people then voted en mass for the most extremists of people like Galloway and placed their people in Academia always denigrating Israel and the West.

        Many Europeans are moving to Australia for this reason. No other Asian country made this mistake.

        If good people do not say anything, within 50 years it could be too late for the EU.

        • shloime

          sorry, but you don’t understand the realities of democracy and demographics – it’s already too late for europe.

          there are entire suburbs of just about every major city in europe where sharia is the defacto law, women wear veils or else, and eating during ramadan is forbidden even for the non-moslem police.

          in countries with zero or even negative population growth, the moslem minority is growing, and growing more vocal. and it’s a voting block that politicians can’t afford to alienate or even neglect. though they may be unproductive and even hostile to the country and its customs, but they do have votes, and lots of babies.

          eurabia is rapidly becoming a place where belly-dancing is common and beer is prohibited.

      • Kris Kristian







  • Malcolm Jackson

    Hopefully the EU dictatorship will collapse very soon. It is an evil institution bent on the promotion of the equally evil cult of Islam throughout Europe. If Israel would join the EU and help bring about the downfall of the EU it would be a good thing. I think if the EU ever survived it would work for the destruction of Israel. Hopefully the people of Europe will call an end to the EU through the ballot box.

  • Sonia Willats

    When you undermine all you perceive and proclaim yourself to stand for, you undermine the very foundations of your existence. Europe has done this before in the very memorable past, and is once again treading the same path in colluding against all her base values, against Israel. Catherine Ashton personifies this prostitution.

    Wonderful how Israel is prospering in spite of Europe and USA’s collusion against her.

    • Sonia Willats

      Yoram Ettinger quotes Churchill in Israel Hayom, 7th Feb, article entitled ‘Appeasement and Economic Sanctions’:”an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

      Catherine Ashton, representing greater Europe, bows, smiles and fraternises with a regime that hangs 600 ‘dissidents’ a year and that plots and declares its will to destroy Israel, whose existence it glibly refuses to recognise.

      Europe’s deplorable double standards, declared from a platform of self-righteousness, make her a mockery of everything she purports to stand for.

  • jb willikers

    A modification of the Groucho Marx line might be ” I would only join that group if all it’s members resign.”

  • Joseph Kelly

    Within 15 years, when Asia and South America wean themselves of the diabolic oil through fracking and the cost to frack will go down to $20 from now $60 and the Muslims now not required oil remains constantly at $40 per barrel, all rich Gulf and Persian states will implode with an even higher ferocity than what is occurring in Syria. In every Islamic state, every sect will be in a existential battle with each other.

    When these now very lucrative contracts been awarded to the lazy EU will be finished, the Sharia compliant EU could implode like the old Soviet Union did when they also ran out of money.

    When they look for assistance from Israel, they will find Israel happily integrated into the new Asian economy where it is looked on as a technological asset instead of a pariah state.

    The EU currently provides substantial moral support for the BDS movement and also funds the post Zionists in Israel which seek Israel’s destruction on a daily basis.

    Israel will not be interested in helping. In just 40 years Wikipedia predicts that Israeli economy will be $1.2 trillion! Israeli hater Ireland will be just $600 billion, half Israels. Israel has $80 billion in Forex reserves and going up, and Ireland just $1 billio.

    Instead of learning from and emulating Israel Ireland is on the forefront of seeking to destroy Israel. Why? If the EU implodes, Ireland will fare even worse.

  • Joseph Kelly

    From a ex European supporter, Europe’s fatal addiction to the shot term petro dollar hit, and how they are prepared to sell their soul for this petro dollars is mind blowing. The British even kidnapped and transferred Gaddafi’s political opponents residing in the UK to Libya to their deaths because Gadaffi requested this.

    They freed Ali Mazrahi the infamous Lockerbie bomber because Gadaffi promised Britain ‘a substantial oilfield’ which never eventuated.

    So whenever they sign a contract with the Arabs, they are told to denigrate and oppress the only democracy in the Middle East. How do you know surplus petro dollars from these contracts are not being transferred to the post Zionist Jews in Israel?

    When the Mossad was caught with New Zealand passports, the Muslims in then Prime Minister Clarke advised her to cause maximum damage to Israel politically and diplomatically, and then the Arab nations would import millions of sheep in gratitude. She went overboard then denigrating Israel, but not one sheep contract was ever signed. In real politic terms, Asia is the place to be.

  • Irving D. Cohen

    While I agree with Zadimel, and thus with Sr. Aznar,I strongly doubt that a great deal of attention will be paid by the leaders of the EU to the suggestions of Sr. Aznar’s group.

    As the Jewish-Egyptian author, who writes under the nom de plume BAT YE’OR, concludes, in her book EUROPE, GLOBALIZATION, AND THE COMING UNIVERSAL CALIPHATE (2011),”the universal caliphate, for which Europe provided a ,stepping-stone at the UN, stands before us, bringing together political and religious power. It has set itself up as the protector of the Muslim immigrant masses in the world and requires that they remain anchored in the Islamic traditions of the Koran and Sunnz, following Shari’ah laws, while the Europeans are called upon to abandon their historic values and even their identity condemned as Islamaphobia.”

    She maintains that this has resulted from the belief that stronger ties with Arab countries and their terrorists is “the best guarantee of security for a continent that refuses to defend itself when attacked, the EU waves the banner of multilateralism and compromises with criminal forces and ideologues that contradict Europe’s proclaimed values. The more Europe persists in this direction, the more it weakens its own foundation.”

  • zadimel

    Former Spanish PM Jose Maria Aznar appears to be more perceptive than most European leaders,regarding Israel’s contributions in the areas of defense,commerce and scientific advancements and innovation.Hopefully, the European nations will listen and act to benefit their homelands against those who wish them ill.