MONTREAL — Israel can’t go back to its 1967 borders because they’re indefensible, the country’s former foreign affairs and defence minister Moshe Arens said in Montreal last week.
Moshe Arens, right, and Frederick Krantz, director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.
Quoting Abba Eban, Arens described those frontiers as “the Auschwitz borders,” meaning Israel could not exist within them.
Arens, now 85 but looking much the same as he did when he was a key political figure during through the 1980s and ’90s, was the keynote speaker at a June 15 fundraising dinner for the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR), held at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim.
Arens praised Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his support for Israel and in particular his rejection at the recent G8 summit of U.S. President Barak Obama’s call for renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians predicated on a return to the pre-Six Day War lines.
“Prime Minister Harper’s outright and forceful support of the State of Israel is what we need at this time,” he said. “The people of Israel are deeply grateful.”
Arens contrasted the current Canadian government’s policies with that of a previous unnamed government more than 20 years ago.
He recalled saying to a Canadian Jewish delegation visiting him in Jerusalem while he was foreign affairs minister: “Israel and the United States have a tremendous relationship based on common values and ideals, as well as strategic interests. I wonder why we do not have a similar relationship with Canada?”
Relations were so “cool” on defence, in his opinion, that Israel couldn’t buy so much as buttons for military uniforms from Canada, Arens said.
Israel has been able to defeat its enemies’ military and terrorist attacks, but “the worldwide onslaught” today to undermine the Jewish state through political, diplomatic and economic means is proving to be more difficult, yet it’s just as dangerous, Arens indicated.
“It’s not only the Arab and Islamic nations that do not like the idea of the Jews being strong, or of the Israel Defence Forces possibly being the best army in world. They are sick and tired of doing penance for the Holocaust,” he charged.
Among the anti-Israel proponents are many Jews, even Israelis, he acknowledged. “Masochism and self-flagellation are in our genes…[The Jews] provide the grist for the mills of anti-Israel propaganda.”
Arens defended the use of military intervention to combat terrorism.
“I say terrorism has to be dealt with only by force. The wave of terrorism during 2000-2002 only stopped when the IDF entered Judea and Samaria.
“For the past nine years, there has been no significant [terrorist attack]… We’re not about to go back as it was before.”
He said Israel’s military withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 was “unwise” and should not be repeated in the West Bank.
The Gaza conflict in the winter of 2008-2009 put a stop to the most of the firing of rockets on civilians, but the “job still has to be finished,” including the freeing of soldier Gilad Schalit, Arens said.
Israel also “didn’t finish the job” in the second Lebanon war, and the consequence is that today, Hezbollah has “tens of thousands of rockets with a range to any part of Israel,” he said.
The effect of the UN Human Rights Council report on Operation Cast Lead, produced by a committee chaired by Richard Goldstone, is that terrorists are now confident they can fire rockets with impunity from populated areas, including schools and mosques, because Israel will not respond.
“There is no more humane army in the world than the IDF. Just look at the western troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and compare them to the IDF to see how true this is,” Arens said.
The expected discussion at the United Nations in September on a motion to unilaterally create a Palestinian state will not be the “tsunami” for Israel that its current defence minister, Ehud Barak, has predicted, he continued.
“Countries are not created by UN resolutions, but by struggle, war, and boots on the ground, as Israel was created.”
The other guest speaker, Middle East analyst Barry Rubin, a writer and a professor at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, predicted that Egypt will fall under the control of “revolutionary Islamists” in the scheduled elections in September. That’s because the only organized parties are those of the Muslim Brotherhood – which he said has a jihadist agenda – radical Islamic groups, and “the extreme left.”
Such a regime would not only break the peace treaty with Israel, but would allow terrorists, guns and money to go into Gaza and might even join with Hamas in a conflict with Israel that he expects to break out in one or two years.
Rubin also predicts that Turkey will soon be taken over by Islamists, who will end the alliance with Israel for good. He noted as well that 60 per cent of the cabinet of the Lebanese government is now in the hands of Hezbollah.