Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Havel joins ‘Friends of Israel’

Vaclav Havel joined an initiative to defend Israel in Europe and the West.

The "Friends of Israel" initiative announced the participation of the former Czech president and human rights legend on Tuesday, during the group's inaugural Washington tour. Havel was not on the tour.

Other former leaders on the initiative, founded in June, include Jose Maria Aznar, the former Spanish prime minister; David Trimble, the former Protestant leader in Northern Ireland and Nobel Peace laureate; Alejandro Toledo, the former president of Peru.

Havel, a playwright, was the rare hero of both the left and right in the West during his decades of dissidence against communist rule in the former Czechoslovakia.

The "Friends of Israel" initiative was in Washington in part to meet with congressional leaders who are planning resolutions supporting its aims.

Aznar also addressed the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday. He said the group's principle tenet is that Israel's survival is in the West's strategic interest.

"Defending Israel is ultimately defending our western roots, the western values that many in Europe, and some in America, seem to have forgotten," Aznar said. "They are not obsolete. And the best proof is precisely Israel and its people. Letting the delegitimation of Israel grow, seems to me the best path to weaken not only the freedom of maneuver of Israel, but to undermine ourselves."

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