Declaration by the Board
In Defence of Israel and Against Terrorism
Friends of Israel Initiative proposes that this conflict must be examined more objectively, with intellectual honesty and sound historical and political judgment
2014-07-15 by Board members of Friends of Israel Initiative
Since July 8th, the Israeli Defence Forces have been drawn into another major conflict with Hamas, an internationally condemned terrorist organization affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The current escalation has been preceded by the tragic kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas members, who are still fugitives and without any condemnation from Hamas. This has been followed by the dramatic killing of a Palestinian boy by Israeli extremists, who in contrast, were immediately ordered arrested and will be prosecuted under the full extent of the law.
Hamas has dominated the Gaza Strip since 2006, and by the summer of 2007 Gaza became fully under Hamas’s control when it expelled al-Fatah members after a civil war between the two organizations. The claim that an Israeli “occupation” of Gaza is the reason for Gaza-based rocket attacks on cities throughout Israel has no basis in reality. If there were no rocket fire from Gaza, there would be no acts of self-defense by Israel, and there would be no Palestinian victims. As is too often the case, most international public opinion blames Israel for a humanitarian crisis that is, at root, caused by Hamas and its lethal actions. Were the world to condemn Hamas, instead, for its aggression and purposeful targeting of civilian centers, the violence would cease.
In light of this distortion, Friends of Israel Initiative proposes, once again, that this conflict be examined more objectively with intellectual honesty and sound historical and political judgment. Thus we call on all persons of good will to unhesitatingly condemn Hamas and other extremist organizations that make the quest for peace in the Middle East virtually impossible, and that, to our great sorrow, act in such a way that the price for their extremism is paid by the Palestinian citizens of Gaza. It is Hamas, not Israel, that is primarily responsible for the lack of economic and cultural development in Gaza. It is Hamas that diverts generous international humanitarian aid to the purchase of rockets, mortars, and military infrastructure while fostering a lethal climate of hatred against Jews and Christians.
Hamas’s rocket attacks against Israel over the past decade have disrupted life in Israel for far too long. Due to these constant attacks: children cannot go to school, business cannot function, and the elderly and sick become prisoners in shelters. These terror attacks have but one purpose: to kill civilians – an aim frustrated in part by Israel’s effective civil defense system and its “Iron Dome” system of missile defense. Hamas, by contrast, demands that the people of Gaza act as human shields, as the Hamas’ spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri has encouraged. The group deliberately hides military infrastructure amidst schools, hospitals, and private homes, which has led, sadly, to civilian deaths in Gaza. Every innocent civilian killed, regardless on which side, is a tragic outcome, however, it is the goal knowingly pursued by Hamas in order to protect its weapons arsenal and to gain international legitimacy as victims.
Israel, on the other hand, goes to extraordinary lengths to preserve lives. Before Israeli forces attack legitimate strategic military targets they warn the population in the area through leaflets, personal telephone calls, and warning blasts, asking thousands of Palestinian civilians to leave their homes and save their families. Again, by contrast, and with clear intent to deceive international public opinion as to who is ultimately responsible for Palestinian deaths in Gaza, Hamas has, unlike Israel, built no civil defense system and no shelters, and has encouraged civilians to disobey Israeli warnings.
Even as we hope that the parties to the Gaza conflict will come to a quick cease fire, we also urge policy makers, international institutions, the UN, and the European Union, to see reality for what it is: There is an unaccountable terrorist aggressor, Hamas, and there is a democratically elected and accountable government in Israel that has a duty to defend its people from aggression. Ill-informed condemnations of Israel do not contribute to building peace; they do strengthen the hand of terrorists, and by doing so, condemn the people of Gaza and Israel to further suffering. The international community must, therefore, take the necessary steps to stop the continuous attack of Hamas on Israel; to eliminate Hamas’s arms-smuggling and propaganda; and to call to account Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, who, by accepting Hamas into a coalition government, has assumed a responsibility that must now be met by effective work for peace. The international community must have the courage to condemn Hamas for its evident will to destroy Israel while affirming Israel’s right of self-defence.
The Friends of Israel Initiative believes that such actions by international organizations will both help build peace between Gaza and Israel and help meet the challenges of anti-democratic terrorism throughout the world, which daily claims more and more victims.
José María Aznar, Former President of Spain
John R. Bolton, Former US Representative to the UN
Lord William David Trimble, First Minister, Northern Ireland, 1998 to 2002 Nobel Peace Prize in 1998
Alejandro Toledo, Former President of Peru
Luis Alberto Lacalle, Former President of Uruguay
Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Former Minister of Defence of Germany
Giulio Terzi, Former Foreign Minister of Italy
Richard Kemp, Former British Military Commander
George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center
Andrew Roberts, British historian and writer
Roberto F. Agostinelli, Managing Director at Rhône Group, Rhone Capital
Fiamma Nirenstein, Italian politician, journalist and author
Carlos Bustelo, Former Industry Minister of Spain
Carlos Alberto Montaner, Exiled Cuban author and journalist
Rafael L. Bardají, Executive Director