Good friends must find ways to iron out differences

02/26/2015 | , Chicago Sun Times

I am writing this short column from Jefferson City, Missouri, where I addressed the Missouri House of Representatives and spoke with members of the Missouri Senate. In my post as Consul General, I represent the interests of the state of Israel in the Midwest. I appreciated the honor of speaking with members of the legislative branch in Illinois’ neighboring state, Missouri, as I always do whenever I speak throughout the 11-state region under my responsibility. It is one of the reasons I value my position, one of the reasons I chose the Midwest, because people in the Midwest are open and friendly and willing to listen, even if they may disagree.

Next week, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, will address members of the U.S. Congress. This address has been controversial. Many of the people I met today in the heartland of America understand why Netanyahu is coming to Washington. There are those who disagree with what they believe he will say. However, they believe he is entitled to have his day in court.

That said, there is a fundamental disagreement between the U.S. and Israel concerning Iran. For the U.S., Iran is a problem. For Israel, Iran is a strategic challenge. What brings Netanyahu to address Congress, which after all is the reflection of the American people, is his real, significant concern that the agreement that might be signed at the end of March might risk the security of the state of Israel. It might cast a shadow over the future of the Jewish state 6,000 miles east of here.

The relationship between the U.S. and Israel is strong because it is a strategic partnership that leans on shared values and common interests.  Those shared values have not changed since 1948. But our common interests have only grown larger since the beginning of the Arab Spring and the subsequent collapse of the order in the Middle East. Israel is, and most probably will remain, the only stable state in the Middle East. Israel has always been the best protector of American interests in the Middle East and, nowadays, this is truer than ever. As much as personal relationships are important, at the end of the day, it is the interests and the values that set the “music” between the two states. Our strong friendship will be able to contain this temporary tension. However, one thing that cannot be contained is a nuclear Iran.

Roey Gilad is the Consul General of Israel to the Midwest.

Read the full article at The Chicago Sun Times.