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Europe is also facing a very strong clash of civilisations, I see that in France, I see that in Germany. I know that Britain was quite cautious about the way it treated the humanitarian crisis in Syria, but in general I think that the West hasn’t created sufficiently sophisticated tools with which to approach this civilisational clash because we are so programmed in the liberal way of thinking. Look at Merkel’s decision about burkas and burkinis. You have this freedom of religion from the one side, you have the idea of the ability of women to dress the way they want, you have all those liberal values and you have Islam. And you don’t know how to deal with it because this is a contradiction of the very fundamental beliefs of liberal thought. I think liberal values are being challenged today more than ever and we all should reprogramme our thinking about the civilisational clash. This is not just about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s much bigger than that.

DJ: One of the values on which Standpoint was founded was the idea of the Judaeo-Christian legacy, from the Biblical era, and how important it is that at this time when we do face these threats that Jews and Christians should work together very closely. I know we haven’t always in the past but today we face very similar threats. Israel has been a beacon of toleration and more than toleration, of affirmation, of different faiths while preserving its Jewish identity. Is there more that Israel can do in the face of this persecution right across the Middle East? It started a long time ago but it got very much worse after the Arab Spring, and then with the rise of IS. It’s very frustrating for us sometimes in Europe that our governments are not doing very much about these persecuted minorities. Most Jews were expelled a long time ago from many of these countries. Israel has an exemplary record on this but is there anything you can do to set an example to other Western countries? We are, it seems to me, watching while something really terrible is going on, just as we did in the 1930s when Jews were the main victims.

TH:
I must say that those are the questions at the international table. They want to learn from us, they want to learn how to deal with terrorism, they want to learn cyber protection information. Since the Second World War Europe has tried to build some kind of project of a better world, one with no borders, and what happened? It started with 9/11 in America but it went all the way to the major terror attacks in Paris and London, and the feeling at the moment is it’s as if someone broke into your house. You feel  as if your house is not protected any more and I think Brexit reflects some of this feeling. People want to protect their houses. Israel knows how to protect the house without just closing all the doors — you close the doors to the bad things but you’re still very open to ideas, to interactions, to international transactions, to Asia — economic relations with Asia are flourishing. We really know how to play this delicate game of being open to the world on the one hand but not breaking your house and the alarms and all the things that protect your identity.

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