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July 14, 2016 3:58 am

Israel Has No Permanent Allies — Just Permanent Interests

avatar by Isi Leibler

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a September 2015 meeting in Moscow. Photo: GPO.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a September 2015 meeting in Moscow. Photo: GPO.

Aware that President Erdogan remains an aggressive Islamist and presumably harbors as much love for Israelis as we do for him, the government was strongly criticized for the unpalatable concessions it granted in order to restore economic and diplomatic relations with Turkey.

The reality is that we have become increasingly conscious that alliances are not exclusively based on shared values or feelings of friendship. Obviously a shared Judea-Christian heritage is a major asset as evidenced by the love for Israel shared by evangelical Christians in the US which became an important factor restraining the Obama administration from abandoning Israel in order curry favor with Islamic states.

In contrast, the absence of a strong pro-Israeli element in Europe, facilitated the increasingly hostile European Union approaches against Israel.

European soil was drenched in Jewish blood during the Nazi era, aided and abetted in most cases by local collaborators. Today Europe faces an onslaught both internally and externally from Islamic fundamentalism which is challenging its social order. At the frontline of the battle against Islamic terrorism is Israel, an oasis of democracy and stability in a region dominated by barbarism reminiscent of the Dark Ages.

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Yet, despite hypocritical calls for peace, Europe remains passive as the Muslim-dominated global community campaigns to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state. The EU has applied moral equivalence towards Israel’s self-defense and the criminal Palestinian regime which incites and sanctifies killers. It has sought to pressure Israel into accepting indefensible borders and is orchestrating efforts to force Israel to unilaterally provide further concessions that could endanger its existence.

In this context, Brexit may alleviate the situation by weakening the control of the post-modernist EU bureaucrats, many of whom regard any nation state and in particular Israel, as remnants of a bygone era of nationalism and imperialism. They also undoubtedly now face their own nationalist problems.

The Netanyahu government is moving away from what was hitherto almost total dependency on the United States and is seeking to bolster relations with other countries. These efforts have been accelerated by the Obama Administration’s undisguised attempts to create daylight in its relationship with Israel in order to appease Muslim states hostile to Israel, in particular the Iranian terrorist state.

Today, Israel welcomes alliances based on pragmatic mutual economic, political or defense interests. Turkey fits into this category, as do a number of Arab countries threatened with ISIS and or Iranian hegemony. Saudi Arabia (and the Gulf States), currently at least, are willing to covertly benefit from an Israeli military presence in the region. But we should be under no illusions. For generations the Saudis, like inhabitants of most Arab states, have been exposed to intensive anti-Semitic indoctrination – both religious and political. The Wahhabi religious teachings continue to promote obscene Nazi-style stereotypes of Jews and the mullahs tell their followers that we are direct descendants of apes and pigs.

Yet, astonishingly, in the wake of a failed Muslim Brotherhood government, today we find ourselves sharing common interests with Egypt in combating ISIS and extremism in the Sinai Peninsula which also includes Hamas. Taking account of the bitter anti-Semitism which permeated Egyptian society, it is a remarkable situation for Egyptian President Sissi to be calling for the eradication of Islamic fundamentalism and extremism in religious dialogue and this week formally dispatching his Foreign Minister to meet Netanyahu in Jerusalem. But we should not delude ourselves that Sissi has become transformed Sissi into a lover of Zion.

These developments require constant juggling. For example, Israel created mutual interest-based relations with the Greeks and Cypriots who had previously bitterly opposed us and we must endeavor to retain these ties despite our new relationship with Turkey.

Our most extraordinary, even dazzling relationship is with the Russians. Who could have envisioned that a former KGB officer, now President of Russia would hold more annual meetings with the Israeli Prime minister than the US president? And that this Russian president speaks in endearing terms about Jews in his country and his admiration for Israel. The arrangement between Russia and Israel since their involvement in the Middle East bloodbath on the borders of Israel, is unprecedented and extraordinary. But despite what seems to be a genuine affinity between President Putin and Israel, if current mutual interests conflict we should be under no illusions.

We have also made significant progress in our relations with the two emergent superpowers India and China as well as other South East Asian nations and Netanyahu’s visit to Africa last week was a great success. We must now concentrate on persuading these nations to extend the economic cooperation to politics and convince them to cease voting against us at the biased international venues such as the currently biased and hostile UN.

To sum up, this is a new ball game, and we must tread cautiously and harbor no illusions.

We still look towards the US as our principal ally but cannot avoid sharing our profound concerns with both presidential candidates.

Hillary Clinton will be beholden to a radicalized Democratic Party which calls for Palestinian statehood with no qualifications despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority praises and sanctifies the cruelest terrorist outrages.

Donald Trump remains somewhat of an enigma and, if elected, few can predict in which direction he would move.

Netanyahu can be said to have absorbed Lord Palmerstone’s philosophy “We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

Our relationship is based upon the reality that in many cases, the enemy of our enemy has common interests with us. But that does not mean that the enemy of our enemy is necessarily a permanent friend.

In this context, Netanyahu has employed sophisticated diplomacy, retaining remnants of eroding traditional alliances but vigorously seeking to extend Israel’s diplomatic relationships to broader levels. To maximize this he must also strengthen our ailing Foreign Ministry and ensure that only top quality diplomats serve as envoys. Today we have a number of outstanding diplomats serving simultaneously with the most appallingly ill-suited personnel representing us in critical locations.

For the foreseeable future many Arab states are likely to remain our bitter enemies. But there have been historic occasions when alliances based on realpolitik led to overcoming long-standing ethnic tensions as was the case between Germany and France. I remain the eternal optimist and believe the day may come when our neighbors will become reconciled to our existence and our grandchildren will live in harmony with them.

The reality is that Israel today is independently strong and able to resist global pressures. The US remains our most important ally and the only country in which shared traditions and people relationships do impact on foreign policy and have prevented anti-Israeli elements from abandoning us. Ironically, if we succeed in our current policy of broadening relations and become even more independent, it will actually strengthen our relationship with the Americans.

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom and The Jerusalem Post. 

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • I think what will emerge from todays conflicts is from what the people of Islam will choose to have in this World. A Mother from Morocco killed in Nice had her Son to state that her Muslim faith has nothing to do with terrorism. That is true of all of Islam. Some who identify with terror are not faithful to their Religion. They are seeking power through a vacuum caused by racial tensions. Jews will remain, fixed by their traditions and altruism. They will persist.

  • nat cheiman

    A spanking awaits Turkey, soon. Probably by Russia

  • Ephraim

    And if, by some miracle, Hillary is defeated, the US may again become a solid ally of Israel, as the majority of US citizens would want.

  • albert snow

    The author is naive. There will never be a genuine friendship between Jews and islam.
    Muslim states would without hesitation attack and finish the Jewish state and the Jewish people the day they believe they can defeat it. And they will also get support from their muslim brothers inside Israel in turning Israel to an islamic Palestine.

    Making a comparison of the relation between the christian states Germany and France, and think that relation can be applied to the relation between The Jewish state and the muslim states surrounding it, is simply just stupid and only show Isi Leibler is ignorant about what islam is and its eternal hateful views on jews.

  • len

    I feel Mr.Leibler is quite correct in his analysis of Israel’s situation in foreign relations. Israel must play “real politic” in order to survive. Just when you think Netanyahu has overplayed his cards by placing Lieberman as Defense Minister he startles you with his foreign relations “coups”. Lets see if he can overcome this newest threat in regards to the latest investigations of supposedly ill doing. There are forces in Israel that are constantly challenging it’s leaders and threatening to dispose of them for better or worse. There is just something in the Jewish DNA that is iconoclastic and keeps successful Israeli politicians off balance and from performing from a position of strength which I believe is essential for Israel to survive in it’s terrible neighborhood.Hopefully whoever becomes the next President of the United States there will be a better choice of advisors and a better assessment of Israel and her needs to stay strong and free.There must be a return to “public trust and support” between these two great nations that still exists privately in the hearts and minds of all political players on both sides of this great historic alliance!

  • The Russian-Israeli relationship is of special interest due to Russia’s growing influence in the Middle East and the decline of American leadership in the region. Russian President Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu are strategic thinkers with gravitas. This geo-political trend should be closely analyzed.