Malcolm Hoenlein / Vice President of COP
He rejects the idea of the North American Jews being a monolithic bloc that tirelessly pressures the White House. “The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations groups 51% of the Jewish organizations in the United States, so not all of us think the same. What can be said is that our interests and enemies are the same, although we see them with a different shade”, emphasizes Malcolm Hoenlein, vice president of the organization: “well, at least when I left New York, they still were”, he jokes.
Who are your enemies?
The extremists. Those who impose their radical point of view using the Islam. There is the problem. A healthy debate is positive and, if you reach an agreement, you can solve problems. But, for example, the West must have a better control of immigration. Those immigrants are an easy breeding ground for terrorists’ ideas to be spread.
How can you distinguish between the terrorist and the one who is not, for example in Gaza, when that territory is living under an extreme pressure exercised by both parts?
Well, the matter is that you cannot educate people in hate. We can improve things if we create an adequate atmosphere. And Israel is willing to do it, but not everyone is. For example, we constantly see Christians being followed in all Middle East. And we cannot sit and wait. But we cannot send a wrong message either, like Netanyahu, who has freed Palestinian prisoners and is paying a political price for it.
“Iran keeps being the same threat to the West as it was before”
What is the future you predict for the Middle East?
It is a volcano that will keep on erupting. But we must support more countries such as Tunisia. We can help them to open to democracy, but without imposing our standards. The Mediterranean is a particularly important area for the world’s stability. And it is necessary to develop an active cooperation between the North and the South. Spain and Israel, from both sides of the Mediterranean, can play a very important role in this opening.
What can Israel do in this field?
In a stable peace framework, Israel can help these countries to develop by sharing its technology in fields such as agriculture or health.
Would they do it?
They are eager to do it. But the matter is that, at the moment, there is not a single stable country in the region. We cannot even say that Saudi Arabia is stable now. Only Israel can provide this stability and it is the only one capable of facing the Iranian threat.
Speaking of Iran, today is the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and, according to the chronicles, the president Rohani is facing the most conservative wing because of his determination to continue with the opening promised during his election campaign. Do you believe something is going to change with Rohani?
Rohani is not the one who controls the country. It is the Supreme Council for the Revolution. It is the same old thing. Iranian people voted for him because they wanted a change, but he was one of the candidates approved by the Council. Therefore, there is not a big change; Iran keeps being the same threat to the West as it was before. They tell us that they are going to suspend their nuclear programme, but they keep developing their military programme. Is this a country interested in peace? The West is sending a wrong message for considering this as a positive step towards the negotiation with Iran. This regime only understands threats.