Israel is right to prefer US wild waters to predicable EU doldrums

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.”

Ernest Hemingway

“I’m the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters.”

Donald Trump

Does America have a coherent foreign Policy anymore? Watching the evening news these days on the subject of the current White House incumbent is so confusing, so utterly riveting in its randomness, you literally have no idea what’s coming next. It’s exhilarating, terrifying and depressing all rolled into one.

But just as the financial markets need a certain amount of risk and volatility to shake things up, they much prefer a ‘steady as she goes” approach. So do most political leaders. They are, in the main, risk averse people.

At AIPAC two years ago, during her ill-fated run for the oval Office, Hillary Clinton said of Trump – and I paraphrase – how can you trust anything from someone who says something on Monday, something else on Tuesday and who knows what the day after that?

Hillary was alarmingly accurate. And that is the dichotomy that partners to the US find themselves in at the moment. With the anchoring influence that was a steady US foreign Policy on worldwide politics now being blown in every which direction, other leaders are trying to push the US Captain to the side, to try and steer the ship to calmer waters.

In Europe, Mrs Merkel and Mr Macron have both tried their hand at the tiller. This week, that self-appointed mantle fell on EU foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini’s shoulders.

Speaking in the European Parliament in Brussels, the EU High Representative launched an attack against US President Donald without directly naming him, claiming that isolation in foreign policy leads nowhere and that the EU is currently the “only credible and predictable” global power.

She also attacked Realpolitik and pointed out that being tough for the sake of being tough is often a sign of weakness. Hemingway would have been proud.

“Military force is needed sometimes but for us Europeans it’s never, never, never, the solution alone,” she said, re-iterating the need for diplomacy, and patience of mediation.

There was precious little evidence of either in Europe this week.

Imagine for a minute the chutzpah you would need to take your local council or region to court, and claim compensation for the extension they demolished that you built on your neighbours land, without planning permission and without consulting your neighbour. It would be the Burj Khalifa of chutzpah right?

And yet this week 8 EU Countries rounded on Israel, demanding compensation for the demolition of illegal buildings in Area C.

Ernest Hemingway had a bluntness that President Trump would have appreciated. When discussing his most famous work – the old man and the sea – and those who tried to find rich symbolism within it, he said that the Sea is the Sea, the fish is just a fish and anything else that anyone sees in it is just “shit” they want to see.

Say what you like about Trump (personally I loathe him with a passion only surpassed for Ryanair Boss Michael O’Leary) but just like O’Leary, they plough on, rejecting conservative tried and tested thinking, and are willing to explore uncharted waters.

For Mogherini, “predictability” is not something to brag about. She is stuck in a stale policy framework on Israel that has consistently failed to deliver. This means that President Trump, for all his manifold faults, remains the only captain worth sailing with on the far side of Mediterranean. Maybe the earth isn’t flat after all and there is a brave new world over the horizon. Yes, it’s risky, yes it’s wild, yes it’s never been done before but not finding out isn’t an option if we want to move forward.

The Danish have an expression that a smooth sea never made a good sailor. That’s why Israel is right to put more faith of a resolution to the Peace Process in the hands of the impetuous, unpredictable wild seas that Trump chooses to sail in, rather than an interminable wait in the diplomatic doldrums offered by the EU.

About the Author
Alex Benjamin is the director of EIPA, a multi-disciplined pro-Israel advocacy Group based in Brussels, with offices in Paris and Berlin. He is also the Director of Public Affairs for EJA: European Jewish Association, a Brussels based NGO which represents and acts on behalf of Jewish communities across the EU and wider European continent, at the heart of the European Institutions and at bilateral level with Member States.
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