August 26: With friends like these...

New governments in Egypt, Iraq and Syria will, in all likelihood, pose to us an even greater geopolitical threat than we currently face.

August 27, 2011 13:06
3 minute read.
Cairo anti-police protest

Cairo anti-police protest [File]. (photo credit: Reuters)

With friends like these...

Sir, – Jihadi warriors, whether they are blowing people up in Manhattan, London, Jerusalem, Madrid, Morocco or Pakistan, are a clear and deadly danger to everyone, especially to Jews. Hamas and Hezbollah are at war with Israel.

In a year or so, new governments in Egypt, Iraq and Syria will, in all likelihood, pose to us an even greater geopolitical threat than we currently face.

But Azriel Bermant (“A dangerous and irresponsible alliance,” Opinion, August 12) seems more fearful of Geert Wilders and Glenn Beck, who are strong supporters of and firmly believe in the justice of Israel’s cause. And Ayoub Kara does a superb job of presenting Israel’s case abroad.

Bermant does not provide one single fact (except for the false Islamophobia-anti-Semitism analogy) to support his contention that Israel is becoming more isolated as a consequence of our friendship with European nationalists striving to preserve their respective cultures. Indeed, it was Israel’s reckless embrace of Arafat and his terror organization that has significantly contributed to Israel’s denigration in foreign capitals and disparagement in international forums.



Sir, – Azriel Bermant is right about one thing: “Israel must choose its friends more carefully.” To which I would add the caveat: if careful choice leaves any friends to choose from. This is not to suggest that Israel should choose just any friend – it is to suggest that there are few friends in the world without blemishes.

Take two of the people Bermant so casually lumps into the “extremist” category, Geert Wilders and Glenn Beck.

We all know that Wilders’s crusade against Islam has led him to support a Dutch law that would prohibit Muslim and Jewish ritual slaughter. But the most cursory research shows that Wilders will have no truck with European far right leaders such as Le Pen or Haider. Even Dutch News, hardly known for its love of Wilders, has gone on record saying that his Dutch Freedom Party is “not an extreme right-wing party.”

Bermant reveals his own bias more clearly in describing Beck’s so-called extremism. He would have us believe that Beck’s primary “problem” is simply “his ardent support for Israeli settlement of the West Bank and east Jerusalem.” If supporting construction in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem and in the Jewish communities just across the Green Line makes one an extremist, then many of us who support a two-state solution are extremists, too.

Bermant’s shotgun approach of denigrating everyone with whom he disagrees as an “extremist” is extreme in itself and just won’t wash. Israel should warmly embrace friends like Wilders and Beck.



Sir, – Azriel Bermant must surely realize that nations have interests. When US president Lyndon Johnson was once queried about his alliance with a South American tyrant, he responded, “Yes, but he is our tyrant.”

In the world we inhabit, who is more likely to contribute to Israel’s well being: Heinz Christian Strache or Austria’s Jewish community? We already have an example of Jewish Diaspora support in the American organization J Street.

In the case of Geert Wilders, he may well be the next Dutch prime minister and is among the few who is making the world understand that there is great need for awareness about the inroads of radical Islam. As for the matter of interference in Jewish ritual slaughter, this is not a political issue.



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