Israeli Consul Hillel Newman discussed Israel’s foreign policy, Israeli-US relations, and the country’s current state as a democratic nation in the Middle East during his address to students and faculty on Monday evening. Currently the Consul of Israel at the Consulate General of Israel to New England, Dr. Newman’s visit was sponsored by the Phillips Academy International Relations Symposium (PAIRS). Reflecting on the large role that terror has recently played across the world, Dr. Newman began by criticizing the largely ignorant view that many Europeans and Americans have regarding weapons of mass destruction. “Until [terror] started affecting the Western World, people believed that they were okay and that terror would not come to them,” he said. “This is a fallacy which became evident after September 11th.” Although Dr. Newman believes that Americans have developed a greater self-awareness of the world since last year, he still feels that Europeans remain uninformed. He remarked, “Europe still believes that if they behave the way Arabs want them to, there will be no terror.” According to Dr. Newman, the largest danger that our world must face this year is the potential for certain countries and terrorist organizations to purchase weapons of mass destruction on the black market. Although Iraq remains the most prominent nation with potential nuclear capability, there are several other countries- including Libya, Sudan, and Syria- which have the capacity to be dangerous. Dr. Newman believes that the only way to eradicate terrorism is through international coordination. By sharing intelligence and finances and establishing a highly developed infrastructure, nations could ensure that nuclear weapons would not reach the wrong hands, he claims. Dr. Newman remarked that a full boycott of countries supporting terrorist groups could stop such terrorist activity and ensure that no outside capital would be used for this purpose. He would like to see the European and Asian markets in particular close their banks to terror financing. He explained, “Countries would have a serious, true price to pay if they supported terrorism. You will see a change in the behavior of these countries.” Commenting on Israel’s position on the United States’ possible war with Iraq, Dr. Newman stated that Israel fully stands by the US with all foreign policy decisions. He further emphasized the country’s support of the US by referring to Israel’s own previous suspicions about Iraqi nuclear capability and its 1982 attack of Iraq’s nuclear site. Though it is unknown if Iraq actually possesses nuclear weapons, it is widely publicized that the country has both biological and chemical weaponry that it has allegedly used against its own citizens and in war against Iran. Successfully attempting to give a brief summary of the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Dr. Newman stated that it has become difficult to overlook the situation, with hopes that peace will come naturally. “In reality, there is evil that needs to be persuaded to be good,” he said. “You cannot ignore this and be passive.” Dr. Newman referred to several Israeli attempts at peace that failed because Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was unwilling to compromise. According to Dr. Newman, the key issue surrounding the conflict is no longer disputed territory. Instead, it is a question of mutual recognition in the Middle East. “[Arafat] will not accept a Jewish state in the Middle East. We cannot make peace with someone who will not make peace,” he explained. Dr. Newman hopes that Palestine look for an alternative leader who will create true reforms in the dictatorial government. Characterizing Israeli- United States relations as a “deep friendship,” Dr. Newman stated, “Israel will support the US under any conditions as an ally and give any kind of help that is needed.” He remarked that this strong alliance rests on common values and ideals, history, and the importance of freedom of expression and of the press. As the European Union has become stronger throughout the past few years, it has increasingly sought to isolate Israel from the international market. Therefore, according to Dr. Newman, the importance of the US as Israel’s ally has become even more important. “Israel appreciates that President Bush has not met with Arafat,” he said. “[The US and Israel] have worked together for an exchange of information, intelligence, and on joint projects.” Dr. Newman has enjoyed a long career both as an educator and an Israeli government official. After a stint as a paramedic in the Israel Defense Force from 1982-86, Dr. Newman studied both psychology and history at Bar-Ilan University. After departing from Bar Illan as a history teacher, Dr. Newman held a post as Assistant to Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy from 1999-2000 and then as Policy Advisor to Israeli President Moshe Katsav until 2001.
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