World leaders including Netanyahu and Abbas flank French Presdient Francois Hollande at Paris solidarity rally.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
For most Israelis, watching Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris over the past few days was another reminder of the dignity that Netanyahu has brought to Israel in the world abroad, in spite of the inhospitable treatment Israel is shown.
But somehow, the Left, inhabiting some planet other than our own – one ruled by Isaac Herzog, Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid and where propaganda like Israel Hayom is banned – Netanyahu’s trip has been a public relations disaster for Israel.
On planet Earth, Israelis saw Netanyahu stand against terrorism shoulder to shoulder with world leaders. They saw him demonstrate that the leader of the Jewish state is the leader of the Jewish people, as he spoke to the French Jewish community from the Grand Synagogue in Paris, visited the supermarket that was the site of the attack and lit a candle, and consoled mourners at the funeral for the Jewish victims held in Jerusalem. They heard him remind embattled French Jewry that the Jewish homeland is always open to them, reminding all Jews that Zionism is still relevant today.
This was in spite of the giant unwelcome sign the French government hung out for the Jewish state, when it asked Netanyahu not to participate in the rally because Israel was too controversial.
They attempted to relegate Israel to a separate and unequal status among the nations on the grounds that Israel’s fight against terrorism is not legitimate – because the Palestinian terror war on Israel is.
The rally in Paris was held in defiance of terrorism that targeted the Jewish community, but no spot in the front row was reserved for the leader of the Jewish state. Yet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the PLO, the terrorist organization that pioneered the killing of Jews as an international sport in the modern era, was well placed in the front row.
Not only did Netanyahu attend the rally despite the French request, but he managed to gracefully make his way to the front of the rally, showing his understanding of the symbolism of world leaders marching against terror. He did not push or shove.
He shook a hand and stepped forward. Israel is on the frontlines in the war on terror and by stepping to the front, Netanyahu found a powerful way of conveying that.
Beyond that, in his speeches in Paris and in his statement before leaving Israel, he reminded the world, much in the way he has done with regard to Iran’s nuclear program, the war on Israel is the same as the war on the rest of the civilization. In Netanyahu’s words, “Those who murdered Jews at a synagogue in Jerusalem and those who murdered Jews and journalists in Paris are part of the same problem.”
The Left claims that French hostility was a symptom of Netanyahu’s leadership, but this is not the first time Israel has been excluded from the international struggle against terrorism and aggression.
During the Gulf War, Israel was not only not invited to take part in the coalition to roll back Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, keeping Israel out of the war was a top priority for the US government. In the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001, Israel’s participation in the various “coalitions of the willing” was often kept secret or played down.
France’s attempt to exclude Israel’s leader from the rally was no different. It also follows other hostile French actions such as the French parliament’s resolution on recognition of a Palestinian state and France’s vote in the UN Security Council on the same subject, despite the PA’s refusal to stop the Palestinians’ war on Israel.
France’s position on Palestinian statehood is a rejection of Israel’s long-held position that it is prepared to withdraw from territory when the Palestinians make peace with Israel. That policy was not invented by Prime Minister Netanyahu or the Likud, but should be credited to the Labor party.
Yet in the face of such unwarranted hostility, once again, as with his speeches to the UN General Assembly, to the US Congress or in the Oval Office, Netanyahu proved himself to be a world leader in rallying humanity against the agents of death and destruction.
By contrast, one can imagine how a prime minister Isaac Herzog or Tzipi Livni would have handled the situation Netanyahu was placed in: if they would have come to France or the rally at all, they probably would have made their way to Abbas, who recently incited a number of murders of innocent Israeli civilians in Jerusalem, and shaken his hand to demonstrate their desire for peace. Then they might have gone on to lecture the Jewish community of Paris on the need to establish a Palestinian state.
The reminders that Israel’s fight against Palestinian terrorism is just as legitimate as the world’s fight against terrorism and that aliya and Zionism are still relevant would have been absent from their speeches and actions, just as the word “Zionism” was absent from Labor’s recent Arabic-language advertisement campaign.
The writer is an attorney, a Likud Central Committee member and director of Likud Anglos.