Israel’s president: Where Iran casts a shadow, human rights recede

Isaac Herzog is the President of Israel.

We stand at a moment of crisis for the Family of Nations, but it is also a time of great opportunity. Our world order is under attack; The old principles of peace and prosperity are under stress; And new strategic decisions must now be made accordingly.

During my visit to Brussels over the next two days, centered around my address to the European Parliament for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I will meet with the EU and NATO leadership to discuss our common action for the security of Europe and the Middle East. meeting, as well as ways to deepen our partnership and improve the lives of our citizens.

Our first major point of action is the Iranian regime, one of the greatest threats to the free world at this time.

The Ayatollah’s policy of “exporting the revolution” means exporting the same brutal repression he applies against his own citizens. Arming violent proxy forces across the Middle East, Iran has spread insurgency everywhere it touches, from the Gaza Strip to Lebanon, from Yemen to Syria. And the brutality with which the regime in Tehran is now trying to crush the protesters demanding respect and basic freedoms, it is doing the same to its neighbors.

Where the shadow of Iran falls, there is degradation of human rights.

Indeed, Iran’s destructive behavior has now spread from the Middle East to Europe: Iran is supplying deadly unmanned aerial vehicles that are being used to kill innocent civilians in Ukraine, spreading its lawlessness to the borders of Poland and Romania. is exporting. Increasingly, Israel and Europe share not only democratic values ​​but intense strategic interests. Europe cannot allow Iran to continue wreaking havoc in the Middle East because this regime knows no borders and has come to Europe’s doorstep.

An immediate strategic threat is the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, and here Europe and Israel share a fundamental strategic interest: Iran must be prevented at all costs from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. A regime that executes citizens who are merely exercising their basic human rights, sows chaos among its neighbors, violates every agreement and pursues a policy of aggression against my country, should it ever go nuclear. Possession of arms should not be allowed.

I recall that negotiations revolved around the original Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, driven by the mistaken belief that enticing Iran into a web of economic cooperation would soften its regime. The past few years have shown how wrong this dangerous belief was. Instead of relenting, the Iranian regime has used sanctions relief funds to persecute its people at home and arm its proxies abroad.

Those who are willing to deal with Iran in order to profit from its exports should remember that its main export is carnage.

In this context, I welcome the vote in the European Parliament to blacklist Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, and I thank European Commission President Ursula Vaughan for supporting these calls. I appreciate der Leyen.

For years, Israel has warned that the IRGC is a key element of Iran’s strategy of repression and subjugation. It has resorted to brutal crackdowns on peaceful protests to make this point abundantly clear to the democratic world. And the indictment of the IRGC sends an important message to the regime that the world will not tolerate its destructive behavior.

People clash with police during a protest following the death of Mahsa Amini in Tehran, Iran, 21 September 2022 | EPA-EFE/STR

Against Iran’s retribution, the Middle East is regrouping to form a solid coalition determined to defend the peace and stability of our region.

The Abraham Accords, which have seen the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco establish warm and friendly relations with Israel, have transformed our region and fueled an astonishing explosion of trade and cooperation. He has articulated a new and bold vision of mutual respect and dialogue between Jews and Muslims, and rejected decades of foreign policy orthodoxy about how peace should be built in the Middle East.

We extend the hand of peace to all our neighbors and call on all countries in our region, including our Palestinian neighbors, to join and capitalize on this positive momentum. In the meantime, it is imperative that Europe works to bring more countries into this circle of peace and invests in the new partnerships it is forging.

I call our emerging alliance the “Renewable Middle East” – a sustainable ecosystem of regional peace. And this new alignment is helping to deal not only with Iranian aggression but also with the climate crisis. We share the same problems; We must cooperate on common solutions.

I envision a near future in which the deserts of the Middle East will generate solar power for export via Israel to Europe and beyond, giving the continent the clean and reliable supply of energy it so desperately needs. Renewable foreign investment in the Middle East, therefore, will not only contribute to fostering regional cooperation in the Middle East, it will also directly contribute to European peace and prosperity. The renewable Middle East must be a European strategic priority.

So, to European leaders, I say: These are your allies. The expansion of the circle of peace in the Middle East, and its protection from belligerent regimes pursuing nuclear weapons, is essential to the security of Europe.

The other major issue I will raise with the EU leadership is anti-Semitism – which is on the rise again. The centerpiece of my visit will be my speech to Parliament tomorrow, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

For me, this would be a particularly heartwarming moment. I am the son of a British Army officer who helped liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and my father told me the horrific story he saw when he entered the gates of hell. I am also someone whose family came from communities destroyed in the Holocaust.

Together, we will remember the 6 million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators in the worst crime in human history. And, together, we will resolve to end the resurgence of vicious anti-Semitism that once caused Europe to destroy itself, and represents a clear and present danger to the health of Western democracies.

In both the extreme right and the far left, as well as in some Islamist circles, anti-Semitism is once again in Europe, and it is imperative that Western nations redouble their efforts to combat it in all its forms, from Holocaust denial. Fight distress and extortion, and just as important, promote and celebrate Jewish life.

I am convinced that the best days of European-Israeli cooperation are still ahead of us. From cyber security to climate technology, culture to business and much more, the opportunities are indeed there for Israel and the countries of the European Union to work together to advance our common values ​​and to make our world safer from the forces that We all oppose.

History will look back on this moment and ask whether, in this moment of crisis, Europe took decisive action to preserve its prosperity. Has it actively fostered the forces of stability and progress in the Middle East, investing in an emerging coalition determined to usher in a new era of cooperation and tolerance? Has it not made a pact to eliminate anti-Semitism in all its forms, while fortifying its democracy against this destructive hatred?

As President of Israel, I pledge that my dynamic, democratic and innovative country stands ready to deepen its partnership with our Western and European allies in the pursuit of our common security and prosperity. The future holds unimaginable promise for nations that pool their creative energies and look with pride at what they can accomplish together.

We don’t have time to waste.