Last week the European Coalition for Israel organised a conference with several members of the European Parliament in Brussels to talk about the Arab Spring, and what it means for Europe and Israel. This meeting showed that the Arab Spring presents Europe with a huge challenge. There is a lot of chaos in the region. People are confused. Europe needs to develop a clear and strong policy in response.
Egyptian born European Member of Parliament Magdi Christiano Allam expressed his deep concern about the Arab spring. “The big winners of the so-called Arab spring”, he says, “are the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic fundamentalists. The losers are Israel and the Christian minorities in these countries. In Europe, we need to rediscover a love for our own values and cultures, so that we can deal with these new regimes on the basis of our own non-negotiable values.”
MEP Marik Siewic said that while many MEPs welcome the new developments, they also recognize the dangers and weaknesses in the long term. There is a real need for deeper democratic institutions and culture. As Israel Ambassador Yacov Hadas-Handelsman put it: democracy is not just about elections. It is a way of life. The history of democracy in Europe shows that it takes a long time to build true democracy. Of course the Arabs can also get there, but it will take a lot of commitment, time and investment.” The outcome is far from certain.