We (and Israel) need to recognize world leaders as they are, not as we imagine or would like them to be. Case in point one odious creature named Catherine Ashton, the EU “foreign minister”.
by Caroline Glick
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 national interests.
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 the EU.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 exist.
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
Read the rest: Dreamy foreign policies