The greatest danger facing Israel and the world today is the war being waged by Islamic State and Iran in the name of religion, former US secretary of state George P. Shultz warned in Jerusalem on Sunday.
After centuries of the international community’s separating religion and war, Shultz said, the two are becoming intertwined in the 21st century.
“You can’t tear religion and war apart from each other, and now with ISIS and I might say Iran, war has a religious background to it,” he said. “It’s very dangerous.... It is something we need to think through carefully and we need to demolish.... We have to be focused and uncompromising.”
Shultz, 95, spoke to some 200 invited guests at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, where he was presented with an Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) award for his service to Israel at the organization’s sixth annual International Advisory Council (IAC) gala dinner.
“One of the things you have to watch for with Iran having all this money [from the lifting of sanctions], and with them having Soviet, or rather Russian support, is that Hezbollah will be putting weapons in Lebanon without a doubt,” he added. “We have to be clear that a person who puts a weapon in a civilian location like a school or hospital is a war criminal. The person who takes him out is not a war criminal, but rather a person who says, ‘We cannot allow these sanctuaries to be established.’” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute to Shultz’s great friendship and support for Israel.
“International terrorism is not the result of the activities of individuals but the work of terror states,” Netanyahu said, saying that when Shultz and the US had understood this, it had made a significant difference in combating terrorist threats. “That [thinking] is what is required today,” he added.
IDI President Yohanan Plesner said it was Shultz, the IAC chairman, who had initially charged his organization with its central challenge: How to help Israel preserve its open, democratic society under conditions of permanent siege.
“We are living in times of heightened security concerns and economic hardship,” he said. “Too often, the public’s yearnings for decisive solutions or easy fixes makes democracy seem like a luxury we cannot afford. We are here tonight to remind everyone that Israel’s democratic character is not a luxury.”