Foreign Minister Lieberman
Photo: Noam Moscowitz
Radical Islam is taking over the Middle East, with no major force facing it at this time, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday in a convention attended by European diplomats who support Israel.
Referring to the fatwa issued against author Salman Rushdie, Lieberman said "there is no spiritual or political leader today who stands up and condemns this, and this is a great problem for the whole of society."
"Today we see that the Arab world is weakening," the foreign minister added, noting that the three major Mideastern players at this time – Iran, Turkey and Israel – are not Arab. He added that domestic problems in Arab states are prompting many clashes within Islamic society.
The great gulf between Islamic states and the Free World has to do with differing values, Lieberman said. "Our demand for the Muslim world and our neighbors is first of all to accept different values. Today it's clear that Israel is the only strategic ally in the Middle East for the European Union and the United States, and it stems from shared values," he said.
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Similarly there is no political or spiritual leader who condemns the demolition of Buddha statues in Afghanistan by the Taliban or the riots that broke out following the Mohammad caricatures, the foreign minister said.
'What about human rights?'
Referring to what he views as the minor significance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the region, Lieberman said: "I'm monitoring events in Tunisia and Algeria and asking myself what's their connection to the conflict, or what's the connection between our problems with the Palestinians and the tension in Lebanon or current situation in Egypt."
"The conflict with the Palestinians is less than 1% of the problems in the Middle East," he said.
Lieberman noted that the Iran-Iraq war alone claimed more than a million lives, also making note of the civil wars in Lebanon, Yemen and Algeria. Those who claimed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the heart of the problem are merely aiming to evade reality, the minister said.
Lieberman also argued that the world at this time is divided into a moderate and radical camp. "At the end of the day, both Abbas and Salam Fayyad know that the great threat is not Israel and Zionism, but rather Hamas and Jihad," he said.
In conclusion, Lieberman said he was sorry to see many states adopting a foreign policy based on economic rather than moral values, pointing to Saudi Arabia as an example and wondering why the West doesn't question the Saudi ban on building synagogues and churches in the country.
"Why aren't they asking basic questions regarding human rights? The European Union, US and the Free World must answer these questions; this is the only way to prevent the next crisis."
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