May 13, 2007 - The attitude of much of the political left towards Israel has become increasingly hostile. For a long time now, supporters of Israel have felt that these factions on the left judge Israel by a hypocritical double standard. It is therefore refreshing that some prominent members of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), the party of Spain's Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, have issued a "manifesto" entitled "Israel and the Defense of Democratic Progress in Spain." Their stated purpose is "to break the heavy silence of the Spanish left regarding Israel's defense, to denounce the anti-Jewish element in much political discourse today, and to affirm Israel's democratic values as congruent with those of the Western democracies.
I thought it best simply to reproduce the manifesto in its entirety and let it speak for itself.
For a long time now, the Spanish Left has kept deep silence on the defense of the nation-state of Israel, whose democratic, political, social, economic, cultural and religious values and in perfect accordance with those of other Western democracies.
It is a silence shared by thousands of men and women on the Left, who contemplate with sadness the animosity shown against Israel by politicians, intellectuals and journalists.
At the root of such animosity lies no doubt a persistently popular anti-Semitism that is the heritage of catholic culture, a heritage finally abandoned long time ago by modern-day Church doctrine. To that must be added some leftover anti-Jewish feelings encountered in some sectors of the extreme Right which share the beliefs of XXth century European Fascism but today are very much in the minority.
Yet what affects us the most, us men and women of democratic and progressive outlook, is the ambiguous language which, blending with the above, seems to be dominant still within the Spanish Left, in total contradiction with the reality of today’s Spain.
This anti-semitic, anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli language used by part of the Left, remains anchored in slogans born in European “revolutionary” circles of the 60s. Those of us who have rejected both the intellectual legacy of the Soviet era as well as the political utilitarianism of the Right, uphold the use of the rigorous instrument of critical thinking in defense of the Western values of Freedom, Equality, Justice and Fraternity.
Thus we have concluded that it is time to defend a clear conviction: There are more than a few of us in the Spanish Left who value the ethical and political values of Israel, and who appreciate what Israel’s existence means to Mankind in a world threatened by intolerance and fundamentalism. We, the undersigners in Spain, can no longer keep silent regarding this crucial matter.
One of the great successes of Spanish democracy since 1978 was the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Spain in 1986. Any person of democratic and progressive leaning, and therefore heir to our best tradition of liberal and social values, agrees that today’s Spain would not have been made possible without that bridge, which enabled our reencounter with our Jewish past, and which was erected by the first leftist government of Spain.
After decades of dictatorship and then a harsh transition to democracy, the restoration of diplomatic relations between Spain and Israel was a proof that our intolerant and fundamentalist past had been left behind. One must remember that during the long process of construction of our Spanish democracy which began at the Courts of Cadiz in 1812, the biggest obstacles always came from those who believed that the edict of expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 had been good and just.
Spain’s progressive democrats, who defend the right of the Israeli people to their own nation-state in accord with the resolutions promulgated by the UN General Assembly and Security Council on November of 1947, refuse to close our eyes or to criticize, if need be, any actions undertaken by the Israeli democratic authorities legitimately elected by the people of Israel, if they should behave against our ethical and political beliefs.
It is precisely for that reason that we support the process that should lead up to a just peace between Israel and all its neighbours, and that we particularly approve all efforts made to achieve a sovereign Palestinian state, economically viable and territorially nearby, ruled according to democratic principles and enjoying normal relations with Israel. This also means that all the other nation-states in the region must necessarily behave according to the international rule of law, promoting all political and human rights as defined by the United Nations.
In defense of our beliefs and convictions, we therefore reject and denounce any individual or generalized manipulation against the legitimate values and interests of Israel, both as a nation-state and as a free people. There are quite a few of us on the Spanish Left who militate in political parties, unions and civic associations, who can and must fight through dialogue and democratic principles all manipulations and extortions against Israel.
The banner of this cause cannot remain just in the hands of such in the Right who, either through conviction or because of mere strategic interest, insist on having a private right to support Israel. We claim that Israel’s defense is not the private duty of any political party or organization, whether in the Left or the Right, but a duty of all democrats.
On the western and eastern shores of the Mediterranean, hundreds of thousands of free women and men, citizens of Israel and Spain, are all united by one single ideal upheld by successive generations. Every woman and every man has the right to be who they want, and to exercise that right with the benefit of a security granted by individual and political freedoms.
Those of us who are well-acquainted with the risks and menaces that weigh against Israel are aware that they are the same that Spain faces. We both suffer the attacks of terrorists who intend to carry out their private wars against the democratic values established with hardship after a long history, and to overthrow the principles of executive, legislative and judicial separation of powers which lie at the foundation of today’s Western political systems. We cannot forget that the progress, well-being and security of our open societies and peoples depend on the preservation and daily reaffirmation of such values and principles.
Israel is hated and attacked not only because it is a Jewish nation-state, but also because it has proved, since its foundation, that it is committed to preserving and reaffirming democratic values and rule of law, even under permanent strenuous conditions of open or hidden warfare. In Spain, Israel’s exemplary attitude does not please many, on the Left and the Right, but precisely for that reason it is important to insist on its radical worth.
Through adhesion and commitment to this manifesto, we wish to help in bringing together individuals who wish to further political consensus in this matter. We want to put an end to all ambiguous attitudes towards Israel generated by language and behaviour that do not reflect the democratic values and norms of modern Spain.
Therefore we break our silence, all of us, in order to reaffirm with word and action that the defense of Israel is equivalent to the defense of the cause of liberty and progress for all people of Spain, regardless of birth or origin, beliefs or opinions.
"Israel and the Defense of Democratic Progress in Spain." Asociación Solidaridad España-Israel, April 2007.
"Varios miembros del PSOE denuncian el 'discurso antijudío' de la izquierda y piden a Zapatero un cambio de política." Libertaddigital.com, April 25, 2007.
Peace with Realism