Statement By The Central Council of Jewish Communities in Finland…….

Regarding the EU’s Presidency Statement of July 13th, 2006 on the recent developments in Israel and Lebanon.

Finland currently holds the Presidency of the European Union. In this capacity the Foreign Ministry of Finland has yesterday (July 13th, 2006) published a Presidency Statement accusing Israel i.a. of using disproportionate force in Lebanon in response to attacks by Hizbollah in Israel. The Presidency sees no justification in Israel’s imposition of an air and sea blockade on Lebanon. The Presidency sees the latest developments as an aggravation of a vicious circle of violence and retribution.

We find the Presidency statement biased, unbalanced and inaccurate: There is no circle of violence in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Terrorist forces like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbollah, supported, funded and armed by Iran and Syria, united by their outspoken declarations to try to annihilate the state of Israel, have for years carried out unprovoked attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers by various means such as suicide bombings, rocket attacks and kidnappings. Now, when Israel is finally exercising its legitimate right of self-defence against these perpetrators, the labeling of this action by the Presidency as a vicious circle of violence is as accurate as labeling the fight between arsonists and the fire brigade analogously.

We fully endorse the Presidency’s deploring of the loss of civilian lives and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. However, we find that Israel’s air and sea blockade on Lebanon serve specific and legitimate military purposes; namely to try to prevent the Hizbollah terrorists to smuggle the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers out of Lebanon by air or by sea and concurrently to prevent a replenishment of arms to the terrorists via these routes.

The European Union can play a constructive mediating role in the region. A pre-requisite to exercise such a role, however, is to refrain from unbalanced, short-sighted statements, to analyze and to understand the fundamental drivers of the Arab-Israeli conflict and to act in accordance with the basic values of the Union, namely the strengthening of democracy, civil liberties and the rule of law. So far Israel is the only entity in the entire Middle East, where all these values are scrupulously upheld and guarded. Consequently the onus on the latest developments lies squarely with the leaders in the areas and countries, where these values are shunned upon.

Helsinki – Turku, July 14th, 2006

Gideon Bolotowsky President

Ruth Hasan Vice-President

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