vendredi 27 mai 2011

L'Amérique et Israël sont inséparables, ce que l'Europe ne comprend pas

Ci-dessous le texte de David Harris publié dans le quotidien allemand Der Tagesspiegel [Amerika und Israel sind untrennbar verbunden].  David Harris évoque le fait que l'Amérique et Israël sont inséparables car les deux nations partagent les mêmes valeurs et la sympathie mutuelle est profonde - partagée par les deux peuples et leurs élites.  Les Européens ont beaucoup de difficulté à comprendre ce fait - encore hier un ami français, lecteur du Monde, parlait du "lobby juif" aux États-Unis ... pour expliquer le merveilleux accueil réservé à Netanayu (interrompu 26 fois par des applaudissements) par le congrès américain - démocrates et républicains confondus.  En Europe la situation est différente et nous ne cessons, exemples à l'appui, de le rappeler: Le Parlement européen applaudit Mahmoud Abbas et le Congrès américain applaudit Benjamin Netanyahu.  

I've had the privilege of writing for Der Tagesspiegel, one of Germany's leading newspapers, on several occasions. This time, I was asked to write on the different reaction in the United States and Europe to Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Washington. AJC, including our office in Berlin, has grown increasingly concerned about Europe's general drift away from understanding Israel's yearning for peace and profound security dilemmas.  -- David

America and Israel are Inseparable, by David Harris (26/05/2011)

Six days of high-profile Middle East drama have just ended in Washington. Framed by President Obama's speech on the region, on May 19, at the State Department and Prime Minister Netanyahu's remarks to Congress on May 24, observers were taking careful note of words, temperature and body language in the complex interplay between the two leaders.

But the overarching story remains the same as always: The United States and Israel have forged a unique relationship, supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans. Whatever the occasional differences in policy, normal even for the closest of friends as we have seen between Washington and Berlin, the key point is what unites, not divides, the two countries. The rousing ovation by the Congress for the prime minister said it all – shared values, outlook and threats.

Some observers in Europe see it differently. They scratch their heads when Democrats and Republicans alike give repeated standing ovations to an Israeli prime minister they view with suspicion. They despair that Israel, in their eyes the main obstacle to "perpetual peace" in the region, is lauded for its pursuit of peace and right to defend itself in the Congress. And they offer theories of "Jewish power" in a vain attempt to explain America's identification with the Jewish state.

Those observers are missing the bigger story. America does not support Israel just because of American Jews, who comprise only two percent of the population. Rather, it is because Americans of many backgrounds identify with Israel as a liberal, democratic society in a sea of tyrannies; understand Israel's struggle, from day one, to defend the Jewish people's right to self-determination in a tough neighborhood; and grasp that Israel seeks peace and a two-state solution, but its main problem today is the absence of peace-seeking partners.

But then again some of those observers missed earlier stories.

They believed in Yasser Arafat long after it became clear that he was a corrupt, duplicitous leader.

They refused to see the change in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whom they despised, when he came to power in 2001 and that later led him to withdraw Israel from Gaza.

They insist that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is settlements, thus putting the entire onus on Israel, when, in reality, the crux has always been the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own.

And they won't give Prime Minister Netanyahu the benefit of the doubt, though it will take someone with his credentials to persuade Israel to take risky steps for peace, if peace is possible.

Meanwhile, Americans see a country, Israel, seeking peace and, with committed partners, as in the case of Egypt and Jordan, ready to pay the territorial price. They also see a country faced with existential threats to which there are no easy answers, no alluring "soft-power solutions." Hamas seeks Israel's elimination. Its charter makes that amply clear. So does Hezbollah. So does Iran. And the Palestinian Authority sends mixed messages – peace one day, glorification of terrorists the next; compromise one day, reconciliation with Hamas the next.

On June 1st, Israel will mark ten years since a terrorist attack on a Tel Aviv discotheque. Twenty-one Israeli youngsters were killed. Joschka Fischer, then Germany's foreign minister, happened to be near the scene. He rushed over and saw the carnage. He understood what Israel faces when suicide bombers want to kill Israelis anywhere, anytime.

No country desires peace more than Israel. No other country faces calls for its destruction from another UN member state. No other country has its right to defend itself so microscopically challenged.

If any part of the world should understand Israel and its journey, it is Europe. If any part of the world should understand the Jewish people's vulnerability, it is Europe. And if any part of the word should understand the need to support liberal, democratic societies as a foundation for peace, it is Europe.

David Harris is executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

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