For my sins, I was seated lat a dinner last night next to Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a stalwart of the Cuban-American community, who apparently doesn't like Fidel Castro very much, and thinks I'm soft on the old man (more on this later). I was also seated with Jose Maria Aznar, the former prime minister of Spain, who was hosting the dinner on behalf of his new organization, the Friends of Israel Initiative. I am a friend of Israel (I know many Israelis personally, and I even like some of them), which is why I was there.
The organization Aznar has founded is a worthy one. It is dedicated to the proposition that Israel has a right to exist. Here is a brief excerpt of what he said:
Israel is under a new kind of attack. Not conventional war as in 1948, 56, 67 or 73. Not terrorism as we saw in the 70s, 80s and 90s. But a new kind of attack - an attack on Israel legitimacy, on her right to exist. A "soft-war", where many of its adversaries are employing legal tricks, multinational bodies, and an army of dubious NGO's to present internationally Israel as an illegitimate state, as a barbarian state, a state that should be isolated and converted into a pariah state.
We think this is intolerable. It is unjust, morally wrong, and a strategic risk -- not only for Israel and its people -- but for all of us.
The group, which just recruited one of my heroes, Vaclav Havel, to its board, is meant to be non-partisan -- it will not take a stand on particular Israeli governments or policies, but it will simply argue that Israel has a right to membership in the community of nations.