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July 22, 2013 8:33 am

European Sanctions Are a Test for Israel

avatar by Yoram Ettinger

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European Jewish leaders at the Knesset. Photo courtesy: Israel Bardugo Photography.

There are no free lunches in personal and national struggles, especially when it comes to the Jewish people, and certainly not in the Middle East.

Successful struggles require defiance of pressure, which has been an integral part of the history of the Jewish people and the Jewish state from time immemorial. In fact, defiance of pressure has ensured the survival of Judaism and the Jewish people.

Over the last 65 years, Israel has benefited significantly from resisting pressure that has been far greater that the pressure currently being exerted by the European Union: the effective U.S. military embargo and the threat of an economic embargo in 1948; suspension of the transfer of advanced U.S. military systems and joint military exercises, and more. It was Israel’s defiance of pressure that facilitated the establishment of Israel in 1948; the annexation of western Jerusalem and parts of Tel Aviv, the Galilee and the Negev in 1949; the reunification of Jerusalem and establishment of Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem in 1967; the destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981; the application of Israeli law in the Golan Heights in 1981; the settlement of 375,000 Jews in Judea and Samaria and 250,000 Jews in east Jerusalem since 1967, and so on.

Resisting pressure has ensured the survival of the Jewish state, bolstered Israel’s power of deterrence and enhanced Israel’s role as a unique strategic ally of the U.S., one which can be trusted on a rainy day.

Between 1948 and 1992, Israeli prime ministers generally fended off U.S. pressure to make “painful concessions,” enhancing respect for Israel and dramatically expanding U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation. Sixty-five years of independence have demonstrated that numerous forms of pressure on Israel have just been hurdles on the road to globally unprecedented growth, economically, militarily, technologically, scientifically and demographically.

A government that sacrifices strategic goals to avoid pressure strays away from the legacy of Israel’s founders. A good government is one that defies pressure and is willing to pay a limited, short-term tactical price to retain independence in political-diplomatic action and advance long-term strategic goals. A government that fails to do this forfeits the trust of its citizenry and the respect of its allies and the international community.

Succumbing to European pressure would radicalize the Palestinian position, generate further pressure and reduce the already slim chance for peace. To do this would be to ignore the post-World War II European precedent of “land for peace,” with belligerent Germany being punished by transferring land to its victims, France, Poland and Czechoslovakia. In 2013, Europe is eager to punish the intended victim — Israel — by transferring land to the belligerent Arabs, hence rewarding and encouraging belligerence.

Giving in to European pressure would reward “Better Red than Dead” Europe, which violates economic sanctions against Iran while imposing sanctions on Israel — the only democratic, capable, reliable and unconditional ally of the free world.

To retreat in the face of European pressure would be to ignore the implications of the stormy, chaotic Arab Winter and overlook the unprecedented surge in hate-education, terrorism and non-compliance since the conclusion of the 1993 Oslo Accords. This retreat would transform Jerusalem into an enclave connected to the coastal plain by a corridor just 2 to 4 miles wide. It would reduce Israel to a 9- to 15-mile sliver along the Mediterranean, with the Judea and Samaria mountain ridges towering above it, dominating Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion Airport and 80 percent of Israel’s population and infrastructure. It would relegate Israel from a national security producer to a national security consumer, depriving the U.S. of Israel’s unique national security contributions.

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

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