What a pity, Europe has lost a great opportunity: yesterday, if Emmanuel Macron had demonstrated the courage which is often attributed to him, Europe would have a real leader.
A leader knows when to break with failed policies and do what’s right, he knows how to uphold truth in the face of countless lies that haven’t produced any results, he understands that in order to reach unity in Europe one shouldn’t hold hostage the only prey available to obtain consensus: Israel to calm down the disagreements on just about everything else. He knows how to identify a valuable ally in order to deal with today’s most pressing challenges, especially terrorism which currently poses a global threat from which no nation is immune.
Instead, Macron, who met Netanyahu yesterday at the Elysée Palace for bilateral talks, once again stressed Europe’s fundamental indifference for Israel’s security and existence refusing Trump’s statement about Jerusalem. It’s sad: his official position was to repeat the old mantra where the word Israel is associated forever with “occupation” and to ignore the reality: Israel has a capital Its name is Jerusalem. Macron preferred to behave like a good schoolboy at the school of old Europe.
The French president’s respectful and cordial body language, his smiles, the pats on Netanyahu’s back, as well as his immediate promise to visit Israel in 2018, as well as his declaration that he had no intention right now of presenting a new peace initiative to replace the one on which the U.S. is working, signaled implied a forbidden, hidden sympathy, an understanding that might one day show. However, he lacks the courage to break free from the Europe that time and again prefers to condemn Israel and also to keep the traditional anti-American French attitude.
In reaction to Macron’s appeal “to give peace a chance” yesterday, Netanyahu said the following: “The most important thing about peace is first of all to recognize that the other side has a right to exist. I think that is what is holding up the peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Here is the gesture I offer [to the Palestinians]… to Mr. Abbas to sit down and negotiate peace. That’s a gesture for peace. Nothing could be simpler.”
This was a good, concrete response to Macron’s request, which asked the Prime Minister of Israel “to make a courageous gesture toward the Palestinians”, while the French leader was condemning of Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
A courageous gesture? Perhaps, it’s was Europe who finally needed to show some courage, most notably France where obsessive and homicidal anti-Semitism has already pushed record numbers of its Jews to immigrate to Israel – 8000 in 2015 alone. And isn’t Israel courageous enough to maintain a robust, steadfast democracy and an exemplary judiciary while suffering Islamist hatred, which bombards it with terrorist attacks? Hasn’t Israel already displayed its courage by continually extending, while at the same time fostering scientific and technological advancements, an invitation to PA President Abu Mazen to sit down and negotiate while, on the contrary, he keeps paying stipends to terrorists and names schools and streets in their honor?
Isn’t Europe pleased by the fact that Jerusalem, despite being Israel’s official capital since 1950, has entrusted the management of city’s holy sites to the three respective faiths that characterize it, thereby guaranteeing free access for all for the first time in history? Moreover, where’s Macron’s request for the Palestinians and the Arab world to make a courageous gesture, especially when violence seems to be their preferred card and perhaps the only one it knows how to play, and while anti-Semitism is spreading throughout Europe, such as in Sweden where a synagogue was attacked yesterday?
Netanyahu, as far as we know, preferred to concentrate his discussions with Macron on the Arab world and Lebanese issues, appreciating the role he played in the Saad Hariri affair, who subsequently returned to his role as prime minister. But he unequivocally slammed Erdogan’s violent and anti-Semitic tone, comparable only to that of Iran.
Iran, however, is another issue of controversy with France, because Macron, who despite declaring he’s willing to take steps to restrict the ayatollah’s ballistic missiles program, still is against reviewing the agreement of the P5+1. Again a conformist European attitude.
While in Paris, Netanyahu received the news that a security guard was stabbed and in critical condition after he defended with his own body passengers at Jerusalem’s central bus station; meanwhile the IDF blew up an attack tunnel constructed by Hamas from Gaza designed to bring terrorists into southern Israel; and over the weekend missiles were again launched from Gaza on its cities. Netanyahu quietly, nevertheless, reiterated to Macron a reality evident to all: Jerusalem is Israel’s capital just like Paris is the capital of France. Here the Knesset is located with its government offices, all its important institutions, and above all the heart of the Jewish people. Should Israel therefore remain the only nation unable to choose its own capital?
Macron, when he declares that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is dangerous, evidently doesn’t have in mind, or pretends not to know how dangerous it is to perpetuate a lie that allows the Palestinians to hold on to the illusion that they’ll be able to get everything without giving anything. This reinforces terrorism as a lever to bring about their dream of seeing Israel disappear from the face of the earth. Macron, is not stupid, he understands this. Therefore, why he doesn’t say to stop delegitimation, violence, payment for the terrorists? Because he is a typical European.
Translation by Amy Rosenthal
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (December 11, 2017)