A group of international notables issued a statement Tuesday condemning Hamas’s terror war against Israel and supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, and demanding that “policy makers, international institutions, the UN, and the European Union” do the same.
The statement came from the Friends of Israel Initiative, founded and headed by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.
Hamas has dominated the Gaza Strip since 2006, and has fully controlled it since in summer 2007 expelled al-Fatah members after a civil war between two organizations; the claim than an Israeli “occupation” of Gaza is the reason for Gaza-based rocket attacks on cities throughout Israel has no basis in reality. Were there no rocket fire from Gaza, there would be no acts of self-defense by Israel, and there would be no Palestinian victims. As is too often the case, too much of international public opinion has blamed Israel for a humanitarian crisis that is, at root, caused by Hamas and its lethal actions.
In light of this distortion, the Friends of Israel Initiative proposes, once again, that this conflict be examined more objectively, with intellectual honesty and sound historical and political judgment. Thus we call on all persons of good will to unhesitatingly condemn Hamas and those other extremist organizations that make the quest for peace in the Middle East virtually impossible, and that, to our great sorrow, act in such a way that the price for their extremism is paid by the Palestinian citizens of Gaza. It is Hamas, not Israel, that is primarily responsible for the lack of economic and cultural development in Gaza, for it is Hamas that diverts generous international humanitarian aid to the purchase of rockets, mortars, and military infrastructure while fostering a lethal climate of hatred against Jews and the Christians.
Among the members of the group are Northern Ireland’s former First Minister and Nobel Laureate David Trimble, as wells as former American ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.
The statement draws a sharp contrast between Israel and Hamas: “There is an unaccountable terrorist aggressor, Hamas; and there is a democratically elected and accountable government in Israel that has a duty to defend its people from aggression.” The statement asks that international institutions “see reality for what it is,” and blasts “[i]ll-informed condemnations of Israel” because “they … strengthen the hand of terrorists.”
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla) ranking member of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, also expressed support for Israel in an op-ed published today, It’s Time to Stand Tall with Israel, in the Sun Sentinel newspaper. After quoting Israel’s President Shimon Peres that Israel affirms a “moral right to life and an equal right of all human beings to be different,” Deutch observed that these are “values … not shared by Hamas terrorists.”
Deutch then put Israel’s right and obligation to defend its citizens into context for his constituents.
I also met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, whose sole determination was keeping his citizens safe and preventing more violence. That is what any leader should think of first, and, if rockets were raining down on Boca Raton, Coral Springs or Parkland, we would expect our government to take action to keep us safe.
The psychological toll incurred by Israelis is difficult to imagine, but if rockets were raining down on South Florida, how would you go about your job, your errands, or driving your kids to school without feeling such trauma?
In September of last year, Aznar led a group that blasted the EU’s policy on boycotting Israeli enterprises in the West Bank as “treating Israel differently,” thus reinforcing “the impression among Israelis that Europe is basically unfriendly to Israel and cannot be relied upon as it once was.”
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