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Israel, Stay Out of "Entangling Alliances"
By Ariel Natan Pasko
In his farewell address of 1796, the first American president, George
Washington, set out his vision of what would make the United States a
truly great nation. He called for men to put aside party politics and
unite for the common good, to create an "American character" wholly free
of foreign attachments. The United States, he said, must concentrate only
on American interests, and while the country ought to be friendly and open
its commerce to all nations, it should avoid becoming involved in foreign
wars. Although some have portrayed Washington as an isolationist,
Washington did not call for isolation, only the avoidance of "Entangling
Washington said, "The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign
nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as
little political connection as possible."
About Europe he said, "Europe has a set of primary interests which to us
have none or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent
controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our
concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves
by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics or the
ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities."
Then he asked, "Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of
Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European
ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice? It is our true policy to
steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign
world..." He agreed that America should uphold already signed agreements,
but then concluded, "But in my opinion it is unnecessary and would be
unwise to extend them."
Finally about American defense policy Washington suggested, "Taking care
always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable
defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for
extraordinary emergencies." But warns of permanent "Entangling Alliances."
I wouldn't have felt the need to write this article, except for the fact
that the issue of "Entangling Alliances" concerning Israel, is picking up
steam. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi while visiting Israel in
June said that he saw Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, as a
natural candidate to join the European Union. Israeli Foreign Minister
Silvan Shalom has also recently expressed an interest in EU membership, as
has Israeli Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, both from the ruling
Likud party. Israel already has a Free Trade Agreement with the European
Union, but that's not good enough for some people.
What caught my eye just the other day was when the current European Union
president, Italian PM Berlusconi, suggested that Israel, Turkey and Russia
be invited to join the EU. He stated that it would strengthen the EU
politically and militarily. EU officials quickly clarified, that the
policy of the EU regarding Russia and Israel has not changed, and they
won't be invited to join anytime soon.
But think for a moment what Berlusconi said. Israel, its military research
and development, its battle-tested troops and equipment, its willingness
to fight, will strengthen Europe, that is, provide security. There is
logic to what Berlusconi said. Remember this is the Europe who couldn't
bring itself to take on Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Berlusconi sees things
long-term, and he sees, Russia, Turkey, and Israel, all willing to use
force to defend themselves unlike the current European mercantile
mentality, which is always looking to buy its way out of conflict through
negotiation and promises of aid these days.
Yet Israelis who favor EU membership, in fact, are moving in the opposite
direction. And there are quite a lot of Israeli leaders and businessmen
thinking this way. Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres for example, and the
Labor Party, have been big supporters of EU coziness for years. Peres'
Euro-Socialist roots speak for itself. Peres has been bouncing around,
trying to "Entangle" Israel for quite a while now. In the heyday of the
"Peace Process" during the early 1990's he envisioned a "New Middle East",
proposing a "Middle Eastern Common Market" but has since returned to his
fallback position of closer ties with Europe.
Even the Likud Party, who traditionally has favored closer ties with the
United States over Europe, has done all that it can to prepare Israel for
EU membership. Notice the Sharon government's feverish attempts to stay
within the Euro-guidelines for Israeli economic policy - government
deficit and the like. And although quite a few Israeli citizens, lately,
have called for the death penalty for terrorist atrocities, Israel
continues not to have the death penalty, because, as a few Israeli
politicians have expressed it, "it would hurt Israel's chances for
acceptance in the EU," (the EU outlawed the death penalty).
Israelis, who see the good in closer relations with the EU, see a European
political and military umbrella to protect them. Rather than bring
strength to the EU, these Israelis, thinking like most of today's European
leaders, are already planning on an era of "Peace" and the cutting back of
Israel's martial prowess. Many of them, are moving in the direction of
voluntarily giving up national sovereignty, firstly through the "Peace
Process" by giving away actual territory to a Palestinian state, and
secondly by joining a supra-national entity, the European Union. This does
not bode well for the Jewish people's return to their ancient homeland and
2,000 year quest for national political independence!
Pre-dating Washington by some 3,000 years, there is a story in the Torah
of the "professional curser" Bilam (see the Book of Numbers). Seeing the
Jews leave Egypt and march toward the "Promised Land", get attacked and
defeat a few groups along the way, King Balak of Midian decides on a new
national defense strategy. Rather than direct confrontation with Israel,
he hires Bilam to curse the Jews. Bilam not wanting to admit that he's
just your run of the mill "bad mouther" tells the king that he can only
say what G-D tells him to. Appealing to G-D to help him curse Israel,
Bilam is repeatedly told by G-D, "They are blessed". Bilam three times
attempts to curse Israel, but all that comes out of his mouth are more
In what traditionally has been a guiding national policy for the Jewish
people, Bilam proclaims, "Hen Am Livadad Yish-kon, Uv'Goyim Lo
Yit-Chashave" or "Behold! It is a nation that shall dwell alone, and shall
not be counted among the nations" (Numbers 23:9). Jews really don't need
to look beyond their own tradition, for policy guidelines that warn not to
get into "Entangling Alliances."
Traditional Jewish commentaries to these verses explain that the Jewish
people get their strength and prosperity, not from alliances with other
nations and cultures, but from their single-minded adherence to their own
unique Torah culture - Judaism, their single-minded worship of the G-D of
Israel, their single-minded control over their own land and lives, and
their single-minded defense of their own interests. In a nutshell,
liberty, freedom, and national independence.
George Washington understood this, the United States, he said, must
concentrate only on American interests. America, Washington advised, while
"extending our commercial relations" with other nations, was "to have with
them as little political connection as possible." He also warned the
United States to be "on a respectable defensive posture." What has been
good advice for America for over 200 years, and has been good advice for
the Jewish people for over 3,300 years, should be good advice for the
modern State of Israel as well.
So, I call on Israeli leaders and the people of Israel not to try and join
the EU and to STAY OUT OF ENTANGLING ALLIANCES!
Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. He has a
Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis. His
articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites,
in newspapers, and can be read at: www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko
(c) 2003/5763 Pasko permission to reprint upon request
from the August 2003 Edition of the Jewish Magazine