Jose Maria Anzar 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
WASHINGTON – José María Aznar, the former Spanish prime minister who came to the US capital this week to push his Friends of Israel initiative, blasted the Obama administration for its Middle East policies in discussing the need for his new group.
“To have good relations with the Muslim world is very important, but not at the cost of losing the trust and confidence of the Israeli people,” he said in response to a question from The Jerusalem Post, ahead of a dinner launching his initiative here on Tuesday night.
Spain's king tells Chavez to 'shut up' during Chile summit Poll: Spanish attitudes toward Jews starting to improve
At an appearance before the Council of Foreign Relations on Wednesday he elaborated on his criticism, describing the current US posture as breaking with that of previous governments.
“All of them were unconditional supporters of Israel. This administration, in my view, is a conditional supporter of Israel,” he said.
Aznar stressed that his three-month-old organization dedicated to combating the delegitimization of the Jewish state was not affiliated with any political party in Israel or elsewhere and that members were free to disagree with the policies of the Israeli government and one another.
Other members include former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, Nobel Peace Prize winner David Trimble of Northern Ireland and former Czech president Vaclav Havel, the newest member of the group. The organization is also seeking participation from prominent US Democrats, and is in conversations with Madeleine Albright and Bill Richardson, both of whom served as cabinet secretaries in the Clinton administration. In addition, a bipartisan group of members of the US House and Senate have proposed resolutions supporting the new initiative.
Joining Aznar at the Council on Foreign Relations was Alejandro Toledo, the former president of Peru who noted that he might seem to be an unlikely ally as a non-Jewish Peruvian Indian from a center- left political party.
But Toledo said that he was committed to Israel’s right to exist because of “shared democratic values,” and because Israel had a right to exist just as his people in Peru had a right to exist.
He also pointed to the growing threat that Iran poses to both Israel and Latin America, noting his concern about “a very non-kosher relationship between Iran and Venezuela.”
Indeed, Aznar said that a shared strategic view about Israel was the common denominator uniting those in Friends of Israel.
“Israel is an integral part of the West, and the weaker it is, the weaker the entire West will be perceived to be,” he declared at Tuesday’s dinner. “Letting Israel be demonized will lead to the delegitimation of our own cherished values. If Israel were to disappear by the force of its enemies, I sincerely doubt the West could remain as we know it.”
The message is one Aznar and other founding members have already begun
to repeat during press conferences, opeds and meetings with political
and academic leaders in Europe. They took their outreach to Washington
with Wednesday’s Council on Foreign Relations event.
Scott Lasensky, a Middle East expert with the US Institute of Peace, was
in the audience.
“Their message of support – especially the moral imperative – will
resonate strongly here in the US, as long as the group steers clear of
partisan politics and delegitimizing the current administration,” he