Netanyahu - Berlusconi in Jerusalem: First bilateral summit ever between Italy and Israel
Photo by GPO
Israel's love for Berlusconi? He challenges the political correctness
Il Giornale , February 4, 2010
"But why don't you remain with us, what do you have to do in Italy" exclaimed the anchorman of the State TV Channel news program in talking about Berlusconi. "After three days with him, I must say: he is an irresistible charmeur" chimed the journalist of the second channel. Indeed Shimon Peres defined him shimshì, sunny, in his speech delivered during the official reception. He also simply and directly said to the Italian leader that "the press chits chats but voters choose". "You warmed our hearts" smiled Peres during the farewell lunch on the last day of Berlusconi's visit. And he was not referring to the undoubted popularity the Italian Prime Minister gained, nor to the joke he told. But he referred specifically to the substantial and courageous positions that Berlusconi took on all the occasions in which he expressed his opinion. And in particular, during his speech to the Knesset. Berlusconi had a different approach with respect to all other European leaders. He did not try to teach anything to anyone. But he offered his appreciation and mediation to a country that - as he said - "we must thank for its very existence". He did not leave the title "best friend of Israel" to remain a rhetorical exercise and the moving story of his mother Rosa who saved a Jewish woman as part of Bibi Netanyahu's welcome speech: on a day in which the enemies turned up with every possible means, with war threats from Syria and large bombs launched in the sea probably by Hamas to blast shores and Israeli ships and to cause a massacre.
He gave Israel different reasons to hope to be understood and to be supported in its search for peace, without having all the responsibility on its shoulders and, in addition, the reproach often coming from European Leaders. Berlusconi opened an important road. He set an innovative example for Europe. In fact, while he praised Netanyahu for having adopted the "two states for two people" position, he chose to repeat the sentence "full recognition of Israel", four times and referred to it with affection for what it is "the Jewish State". This does not leave room for ambiguity used by many European leaders to leave the true final solution open, with many Palestinians who dream of a future in which population growth or clashes will wipe out Israel.
Berlusconi stated it clearly: a Palestinian State near a Jewish State, i.e. where the Nation lives and not only the Jewish religion. And, in fact, religious people account for 15% of the population in Israel. The recognition of Israel as a Jewish State was mentioned in Netanyahu's speech in Bar Ilan on the "two States" as a condition to arrive at decisive territorial concessions. And so far no Arab leader has ever used this expression. Berlusconi adopted a clear pedagogical approach to the issue of Palestinians and Arab states and promised to help with any initiative to improve the life of Palestinians.
Another fundamental theme on which Berlusconi was determined and concrete was Iran. Berlusconi linked Italy's commitment against Iran's atomic program to Ahmadinejad's genocide agenda. He did not hesitate to show sympathy for Israel's major concern for its fate. Indeed he ascribed it to Iran's negationism. And he talked about it with horror. He concretely mentioned what practical measures to take; very harsh sanctions, the progressive restriction of business with Iran - that already diminished by one third - and a plan to put the powerful and terrible armed Revolutionary Guards corps in the EU's list of terrorist organizations.
The Israeli public opinion attaches great importance to Italy's track record, with its brave stance against the most terrible moments when Israel was the victim of ideological and truly defamatory attacks. Berlusconi highlighted Italy's most important support initiatives: Israel's Day when Israel was beset by horrific terrorist attacks; the decision to say "no" to participate in the Durban 2 conference considered to be "unacceptable" because of its slanders against Israel and again another "no" to Goldstone's report that, de facto, prevents Israel from exercising its right to self-defense. This was a very important and innovative approach. No country had ever helped Israel to feel a normal country vis-à-vis the public opinion and with a true common sense that is necessary to defend oneself against annihilation.
Israel is obsessed with the steady flow of slanders and senseless accusations of perpetrating apartheid, racism, extermination of civilians and children. It is an international sport to delegitimize it and Europe is somewhat involved. It will suffice to read the Swedish paper Aftonbladet, which stated that Israeli soldiers tore organs from Palestinians to sell them: in the name of the protection of the right to opinion, Sweden did not speak one single word. Berlusconi swept away the antisemitic clichés that are generally ignored for political interests and for pleasing the UN automatic majorities. In fact, Berlusconi rejected the politically correct approach that requires to have the cake and eat it, that always wants to stab and charge Israel with all the responsibilities while Palestinians are discharged. He promised a Marshall plan for them and asked them to give up violence and to sit again at the negotiating table.
Moreover, he insisted in proposing one of his dreams that may at last give Israel its natural and cultural domain. The domain of democracies derived from the Jewish and Christian civilizations: the European Community. Berlusconi thinks that Israel deserves it. The issue is whether Europe deserves it. But Berlusconi did not say that.