Thursday, January 11, 2007

Israel Must Look East, Far East

Palace of Heavenly Purity, Forbidden City (Source: Wikipedia)

In a recent column, Ha'aretz writer Aluf Benn remarks that
The immediate response of many Israelis to the news that their prime minister is visiting China is "what is he looking for there?" The cynics among them point to the circumstances and the timing and perceive Ehud Olmert's visit to Beijing as a convenient escape from the oppressive problems facing him at home ...
As usual, Benn has hit the nail right on the head. Although there is plenty of appreciation for China's importance in the Israeli business world and parts of the academy (engineering and the sciences), the political sector, the pundits and opinion-makers of the country are hopelessly fixated on Europe and the United States. It is an arrogance toward the east (far and near) born of provincialism.

While the whole world understands that "China's economic growth is the main international story of the past decade," Israeli policymakers seem clueless about the geopolitical and economic changes that will result from it:
Israel has watched all these developments from a distance. Immersed in itself and in the conflict with the Palestinians, the Israeli leadership is interested only in what is thought and said about it in Washington, and to a lesser but increasing degree, in Europe as well.
Israel must start paying attention to what countries like China and Vietnam as well as the more established economic powerhouses of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore think about it. Israelis have to start communicating with the rest of the world - preferably through their languages and cultures. It must also stop wasting time and start solving the problems that are likely to present insurmountable obstacles to long-term growth. A withdrawal from the West Bank and even the Golan, if that is what it takes, is a small price to pay for a place in the world order 20 years from now.


Shaul Ha Cohen said...

China and the Far East are important for Israel indeed, Africa too by the way. The government of Israel and the ministry of Foreign affaires are not making enough efforts.
I agree with you, but what this got to do with giving up the Golan and the West Bank? Do you really think that the authorities in China are not sleeping at night because of the Palestinians and the Syrians? Would they love Israel more if Israel gives the Arabs more? This is the least of their concerns. If at all, they would be interested in is our technologies and know how.
Shaul Ha Cohen.

Niraj said...

Interesting topic, Amos.
"Israel must start paying attention to what countries like China . . .think about it." Very good point.
In the People's Republic, coverage of the war in Lebanon was uniformly anti-Israel.:

China furious because 5 MKs visited Taiwan:,7340,L-3303226,00.html

Dr. Yitzhak Shichor on Sino-Israeli relations:

Amos said...

Thanks for checking out the blog, Niraj. I've read the Weekly Standard piece as well as the controversy of those MKs who went to Taiwan. I think Sino-Israeli relations are not quite as bad as they make it out to be, although they sure seem headed that way.

By the way, my comment of course also applies to India - and on this end, there has been a marked improvement in relations over the past 10 years, though it is not clear whether this will last.

Niraj said...

Yes, India-Israel relations have improved in the last decade. India is now Israel's biggest customer in arms sales.

Those statistics, along with last week's Hindu-Jewish Leadership Summit in New Delhi

may inspire a new round of Zionism-Hindutva-"common foe" leftist articles,§ionID=1

but none of these new pieces will claim the best title award from

Ghani Jaffer, “The Brahmanic-Talmudist Alliance,” Regional Studies (Islamabad), Spring

Amos said...

Thanks for that very comprehensive bibliography, Niraj. I definitely learned some things from the first group of articles.

Who are these Ghadar guys? Do they have a significant following or are they just whiny and alienated intellectuals?

Gotta agree with you about that last article. What a self-righteous, pompous bastard. He has the gall to preach about "religious fundamentalism" and intolerance, while simultaneously drawing on the most vile prejudice. Hilarious.