Spanish former PM calls Israel ‘centerpiece’ of Western civilization

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said that in view of threats from Iran and Sunni jihadists, “Israel happens to be a centerpiece of Western civilization.”

Aznar, a center-right politician for the People’s Party who presided as prime minister for eight years until 2004, made the assertion in a foreword he wrote for a newly-released book by the Jerusalem-based researcher Manfred Gerstenfeld on the delegitimization of Israel and the Jews.

Israel’s significance to Western culture “is why it is under constant attack, and why we should do everything in our power to allow Israel to remain strong, free, and prosperous,” Aznar wrote in the book titled “The War of a Million Cuts,” which was launched Monday during a panel discussion at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Earlier this week, Aznar told the Ma’ariv daily that the while the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel declares “its aim to put pressure on the Israeli government,” in reality “BDS does not only want to change the government’s policy, it wants to empty the country of Jews.”

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But speaking at the book launch Monday in a panel with The Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde and columnists Isi Leibler and Amnon Lord, Gerstenfeld, a former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and author of several books on anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world, said that pro-Israel individuals working to counter BDS are “focusing on an important yet nonetheless secondary problem” instead of delegitimization in general and Holocaust inversion’ as its main single item.

Gerstenfeld argued for the formation of a government entity to counter this delegitimization. He cited the publication in 2011 of a study by the University of Bielefeld, Germany, in which over 40 percent of 7,000 respondents from seven European countries said they believed that Israel was carrying out a “war of extermination” against the Palestinians.

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