Skip to content
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

The Migrant Crisis and International Security

Filed under: Africa, Europe

The structure of Israel’s relations with Europe itself and the whole architecture of security in Europe have both gone through a fundamental change.  We might recall if we can look back to the days of the Cold War there was an east-west split in which half of Europe that was aligned with the Soviet bloc faced the other half of Europe that was allied with NATO; and that was the structure of politics from 1945 until the early 1990s.  That structure is no longer with us but what was emerging as a result of this migration crisis that we’ve been speaking about has been a split between let’s say the southern Mediterranean and the northern Mediterranean. The question of course is not armored units that are deployed in Europe but the question is the movement of population of people and even while the crisis seems to be less acute today than it might have been in 2013 or 2012 nonetheless it has already affected the politics of Europe and the way people are looking at the relations between the Middle East and Europe. 

Now I believe that we have to consider how all this changes not only Europe’s relations with itself but also the relations of the State of Israel with European countries.  In a previous period, Israel has had somewhat good relations with Europe but many times very tense relations with Europe. What we’re finding is that Israel and Europe are now sharing the same set of security concerns that they did not have before.  If I can just use an example I’ve written about this in Fiamma’s book if you look at the question of the migration coming from Iraq and Syria into Europe and you shift over to what has been going on in the Egyptian Sinai which may be the next challenge that Europe will face.  The State of Israel has been active in helping Egypt and this is something that President Sisi disclosed on the American television show 60 minutes.  That Israel has been active in Sinai in a way that strengthens Egypt’s fight against ISIS.

 Now for a moment you thought about what would happen if Israel wasn’t offering that assistance and if the insurgency in Sinai went the wrong way.  Meaning that if that insurgency led to a victory for ISIS in Sinai then that could eventually cross over the Suez Canal into Egypt proper.  The likely result would be the beginning of a new mass migration of Egyptians across the Mediterranean through what we call the eastern route. In that sense when Israel is helping Egypt deal with its security challenges in Sinai it is indirectly helping European security which is something we don’t normally think about.  A little bit of refocusing the issue leads you in that direction and I think there are many ways that it is happening today.  The Israeli understanding of ISIS is probably one of the best in the world and as a result Israel has had a great contribution. 

Now I’m not going to go into the whole issue of gas and oil, but the gas issue has definitely brought in another factor for Europe which is looking for diversification of energy resources.  So with these different elements and the clear change in Europe’s relationship to Israel, I think that we’re really going into a new period where we have to understand the dynamics of what’s going on and basically be prepared for a new paradigm of relations and one which I think can be a lot better than what existed previously. As people spoke you know you get all kinds of ideas that run into your head and at first I thought of two opposite observations in this discussion about migrants you need to have a heart but you also need to have a brain and sometimes those seem to be in conflict.

I think a General Kuperwasser wanted to raise the issue of the Muslim Brotherhood.  This is an issue which I know in the United States there is a huge debate about this.  Are they a kind of radical Islam and you can live with that as it is tamer and doesn’t pose the kind of threat of real jihadism like like Al-Qaeda or ISIS, or are they just as bad but they’re very good at disclosure at covering up their real intentions. I can say this I know General Kuperwasser mentioned the Union of Good as a financier of the Muslim Brotherhood organizations.  The Union of Good is run by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the famous Muslim radical Muslim Authority who sits in Qatar who appears on al-Jazeera and makes the Egyptians sweat.  Meaning he says nasty things about neighboring Arab states.

Which also reminds me in my previous position I had a meeting with several ministers from a Gulf country and we were sitting in New York on Central Park South; we were deciding where we were going to have our next meeting and they said to me Dore, just not in Europe which is like what you want to have it may be in Doha.  But there is a concern about Europe drifting in a direction which can be supportive of radical Islamic causes and not because necessarily somebody wants to do that but it just seems to be something that is happening.  It’s something one has to be careful about.  It’s something you know if you ask our advice about organizations and networks we have a great deal.  I think General Kuperwasser came out with a book that is related to the rise of BDS in Europe and of course BDS is known to be a political movement.  But except when you start researching where the money comes from and the organizations it comes from.  You find that there are terror groups that have taken this path as a new path to pursue. 

I think the discussion we’re having is extremely important, it can be painful because it deals with labeling individuals and we do have an obligation to let people escape safely the difficult situations they find themselves in.  I do want to close by picking up from an idea that was mentioned previously that is part of dealing with migrants, is also dealing with the countries from which they come from and helping them there before they get to the coast of the Mediterranean where all kinds of nasty individuals want to exploit them in very bad ways. 

When I was in the foreign ministry one of the things we did is we reached bilateral agreements between the State of Israel and a number of European countries. I remember signing the agreement with the Germans, and those agreements called for cooperation in development initiatives in particular African countries that are expected to be exporters of population in the next ten years 20 years 30 years.  Many who I spoke with during that period were specifically concerned with the future of Nigeria which will have a population by the year 2050 that will be the same as the entire European Union.  Just Nigeria so I think if we have to find a productive avenue to pursue it is helping these countries.  You know, the list is well known, we talk about it all the time on the Israeli side with water management and agriculture and animal husbandry.

But seriously giving these countries the ability to deal with much larger populations to combat terrorism because part of the run for the Mediterranean and the escape from Central Africa is to escape Boko Haram, which now influences quite a number of countries and not just Nigeria alone.  So that’s where I think we can have the most productive cooperative efforts and we should do much more of that and by helping the continent of Africa I think we’re also helping ourselves.