Dreamy Foreign Policies (FrontPageMagazine.com) by Caroline Glick 06/18/12)
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With her unbridled hostility towards Israel, the EU’s foreign policy
chief Catherine Ashton provides us with an abject lesson in what
happens when a government places its emotional aspirations above its
Since the establishment of the State of Israel, many of Israel’s
elite have aspired to be embraced by Europe. In recent years, nearly
every government has voiced the hope of one day seeing Israel join
To a significant degree, Israel’s decision to recognize the PLO in
1993 and negotiate with Yasser Arafat and his deputies was an attempt
by Israel’s political class to win acceptance from the likes of
Ashton and her continental comrades. For years the EU had criticized
Israel for refusing to recognize the PLO.
Until 1993, Israel’s leaders defied Europe because they could tell
the difference between a national interest and an emotional
aspiration and preferred the former over the latter. And now,
Israel’s reward for preferring European love to our national interest
and embracing our sworn enemy is Catherine Ashton.
To put it mildly, Ashton is not a friend of Israel. Indeed, she is so
ill-disposed against Israel that she seems unable to focus for long
on anything other than bashing it. Her obsession was prominently
displayed in March when she was unable to give an unqualified
condemnation of the massacre of French Jewish children by a French
Muslim. Ashton simply had to use her condemnation as yet another
opportunity to bash Israel.
Her preoccupation with Israel was again on display on Tuesday. During
a boilerplate, vacuous speech about President Bashar Assad’s
slaughter of his fellow Syrians, apropos of nothing the baroness
launched into an unhinged, impassioned, and deeply dishonest frontal
assault against Israel.
The woman US President Barack Obama has empowered to lead the West’s
negotiations with Iran regarding its illicit nuclear weapons program
stood at the podium in the European Parliament and threw an anti-
Israel temper tantrum.
The same woman who couldn’t be bothered to finish her speech about
Assad’s massacre of children, the same woman who is so excited about
her Iranian negotiating partners’ body language that she doesn’t
think it is necessary to give them an ultimatum about ending their
quest for a nuclear bomb, seemed to lack a sufficiently harsh
vocabulary to express her revulsion with Jewish “settlers.”
As she put it, “We are also seriously concerned by recent and
increasing incidents of settler violence which we all condemn.”
It’s not clear what “recent and increasing incidents of settler
violence” she was referring to. But in all likelihood, she didn’t
have a specific incident in mind. She probably just figured that
those sneaky Jews are always up to no good.
ASIDE FROM condemning imaginary Israeli crimes more emphatically than
real Syrian crimes, Ashton’s speech involved a presentation of the
EU’s policy on Israel and the Palestinians.
That policy is based on three premises: The EU falsely claims that
all Israeli communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines are illegal.
It rejects Israel’s legal right to assert its authority over Area C –
the area of Judea and Samaria that is empty of Palestinian population
And it will only soften its anti-Israel positions if the Palestinians
do so first.
Aside from its jaw-dropping animosity towards Israel, what is notable
about the EU’s position is that it is actually far more hostile to
Israel than the Palestinians’ position towards Israel as that
position was revealed in the agreements that the Palestinians signed
with Israel in the past. In those agreements, the Palestinians
accepted continued sole Israeli control over Area C. They did not
require Israel to end the construction of Jewish communities outside
the 1949 armistice lines. The peace process ended when the
Palestinians moved closer to the EU’s position.
The EU’s antipathy towards Israel as personified in Ashton’s behavior
teaches us two important lessons. First, it is often hard to tell our
friends from our foes. Israelis – particularly those born to families
that emigrated from Europe – have traditionally viewed Europe as the
last word in enlightened democracy and sophistication and style. We
wanted to be like them. We wanted to be accepted by them.
Indeed we were so swept away by the thought that they might one day
love us back that we adopted policies that were inimical to our
national interest and so weakened us tremendously.
It never occurred to us that the fact that Europe insisted that we
adopt policies that undercut our national survival meant that the
Europeans wished us ill.
They seemed so nice.
The second thing we learn from Ashton’s anti-Israel mania is that
when we engage in foreign policy, we need to base our judgments about
our ability to influence the behavior of our foreign counterparts on
a sober-minded assessment of two separate things: our interlocutor’s
ideology and his interests. In Ashton’s case, both parameters make
clear that there is no way to win her over to Israel’s side. She is
ideologically opposed to Israel. And the citizens of Europe are
becoming more and more hostile to Israel and to Jews.
These twin parameters for judging foreign leaders and representatives
came to mind on Wednesday with the publication of State Comptroller
Micha Lindenstrauss’s critical report on the government’s handling of
the Turkish-government supported, pro-Hamas flotilla in May 2010.
Perhaps the most remarkable revelation in the report is that up until
a week before the flotilla set sail, led by the infamous Mavi
Marmara, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was under the impression
that he had reached a deal with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan. Netanyahu believed that through third parties, including the
US government and then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, he had
convinced Erdogan to cancel the flotilla. He had a deal.
The fact that Netanyahu thought he had a deal with Erdogan is
startling and unnerving. It means that Netanyahu was willing to
ignore the basic facts of Erdogan’s nature and the way that Erdogan
perceives his interests, in favor of a fiction.
By May 2010 it was abundantly clear that Erdogan was not a friend of
Israel. He had been in power for eight years. He had already ended
Turkey’s strategic alliance with Israel. In 2006, Erdogan was the
first major international leader and NATO member to host Hamas terror
chief Ismail Haniyeh. His embrace of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood
made clear that he was Israel’s enemy. It is a simple fact that you
cannot be allied with Israel and with the Muslim Brotherhood at the
same time. The same year he allowed Iran to use Turkish territory to
transfer weaponry to Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War.
In 2008, Erdogan openly sided with Hamas against Israel in Operation
Cast Lead. In 2009, he called President Shimon Peres a murderer to
By the time the flotilla was organized, Erdogan had used Turkey’s
position as a NATO member to effectively end the US-led alliance’s
cooperative relationship with Israel, by refusing to participate in
military exercises with Israel.
THE NATURE OF the flotilla organizers was also known in the months
ahead of its departure for Gaza. The IHH’s ties to al-Qaida had been
documented. Netanyahu’s staff knew that the IHH was so extreme that
the previous Turkish government had barred its operatives from
participating in humanitarian relief efforts after the devastating
1999 earthquake. They feared the group would use its relief efforts
to radicalize the local population.
In and of itself, the fact that Erdogan was openly supporting IHH’s
leading role in the flotilla told Israel everything it needed to know
about the Turkish leader’s intentions. And yet, up until a week
before the flotilla set sail, Netanyahu was operating under the
impression that he had struck a deal with Erdogan.
It is likely that Netanyahu was led to believe that a deal had been
crafted by the Americans.
Obama is not the only American leader that has been seduced into
believing that Erdogan and his Islamist AKP Party are trustworthy
strategic partners for the US. Many key members of Congress share
this delusional view.
According to a senior congressional source, Turkey’s success in
winning over the US Congress is the result of a massive Turkish
lobbying effort. Through two or three front groups, the Turkish
government has become one of the most active lobbying bodies in
Washington. It brings US lawmakers and their aides on luxury trips to
Turkey and hosts glittering, glamorous receptions and parties in
Washington on a regular basis. And these efforts have paid off.
Turkey’s bellicosity towards Israel as well as Greece and Cyprus has
caused it no harm in Washington. Its request to purchase a hundred F-
35 Joint Strike Fighters faced little serious opposition. The US
continues to bow to its demands to disinvite Israel from
international forum after international forum – most recently the
upcoming US-hosted counter-terrorism summit in Istanbul.
Certainly Turkey’s strategic transformation under Erdogan’s
leadership from a pro-Western democracy into an anti-Western Islamist
police state has dire implications for American national interests.
And the Americans would be well-served to look beyond the silken
invitations to Turkish formal events at five-star hotels and see what
is actually happening in the sole Muslim NATO member-state. But
whether the US comes to its senses or not is its business.
Israel had no business buying into the fiction in 2010 that Erdogan
could be reasoned with.
True, today no one in Israel operates under that delusion anymore.
But the basic phenomenon of our leaders failing to distinguish
between what they want to happen and what can happen continues to
Ours is a dangerous world and an even more dangerous neighborhood.
Everywhere we look we see cauldrons of radicalism and sophisticated
weaponry waiting to explode. The threat environment Israel faces
today is unprecedented.
At this time we cannot afford to be seduced by our dreams that things
were different than they are. They are what they are.
We do have options in this contest. To maximize those options we need
to ground our actions and assessments in clear-headed analyses and
judgments of the people we are faced with. Their actions will be
determined by their beliefs and their perception of their interests –
not by our pretty face. (Copyright © 2012 FrontPageMagazine.com
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