Tag: Israel Foreign Affairs

ISRAEL EXPLORES NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN LATIN AMERICA, ASIA, AND AFRICA

Brazil Finds More Than a Friend in Israel: Allison Fedirka, Real Clear World, Jan. 6, 2018 — The friendly relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, made headlines at the end of 2018.

Israeli-Japanese Friendship: A Potential Yet to Be Realized: Shaun Ho, JCPA, Dec. 25, 2018— In the past few years, Israel has begun to tilt toward the East.

Israel and North Korea: A New Opportunity?: Dr. Alon Levkowitz, BESA, Dec. 31, 2018— In the early 1990s, Eitan Ben-Zur of the Israeli foreign office tried to explore the possibility of a deal with North Korea to halt its missile shipments to states in the Middle East that pose a threat to Israel.

China is at a Crossroads: Brahma Chellaney, Globe and Mail, Jan. 1, 2019— Four decades ago, the Chinese Communist Party, under its new leader Deng Xiaoping, decided to subordinate ideology to wealth creation, spawning a new aphorism, “To get rich is glorious.”

On Topic Links

A Golden Opportunity: Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom, Dec. 30, 2018

How the African-Israeli Rapprochement is About Poetic Justice: Amotz Asa-El, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 1, 2019

East Mediterranean Partnership Signals an Energy Revolution: Dr. Emmanuel Navon, JISS, Dec. 2, 2018

The U.S. is Right to Worry About Co-Operation Between its Adversaries: Kori Schake, National Post, Nov. 15, 2018

 

BRAZIL FINDS MORE THAN A FRIEND IN ISRAEL

Allison Fedirka

Real Clear World, Jan. 6, 2018

The friendly relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, made headlines at the end of 2018. This “budding brotherhood,” as they’ve called it, started when Bolsonaro, then the president-elect, announced plans to move Brazil’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Though he has since revised that promise, relations between the two countries continue to flourish. Netanyahu even attended Bolsonaro’s inauguration Jan. 1, becoming the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Brazil. More than a bromance, the close ties between the two leaders are a testament to their countries’ foreign policy strategies.

Alignment with Israel, while often framed as a new development, is a return to form for Brazil. In the late 1940s, Brazil supported the creation of an Israeli state and was among the first countries to recognize the Israeli government. Ties between the two grew closer during Brazil’s military dictatorship, from 1964 to 1985, as they cooperated in areas such as security and nuclear energy. The relationship continued through the 1990s; in fact, Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso received several awards from Israel, including an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, while in office. It was only when Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took power in Brasilia in 2003 that Brazil-Israel relations became strained. Diverging from Cardoso’s neoliberal economic policies, da Silva espoused more direct government control of the economy and ushered in a populist era of government in Brazil.

Changes in foreign policy accompanied the economic shifts: Brasilia turned against the United States – and, by extension, against Israel. Brazil formally recognized the Palestinian state, according to the 1967 border, in 2010. Even then, its relationship with Israel persisted. In 2010, Brazil also ratified the free trade agreement that the Common Market of the South, a regional trade bloc better known as Mercosur, had struck with Israel three years earlier. And despite its decision to recognize Palestine, Brazil never upgraded its diplomatic mission there to embassy status. The moves didn’t exactly please Israel, but neither did they derail its relations with Brazil.

Bolsonaro wants to reverse course from the populist policies of Brazil’s recent history. To that end, he’s pledged to roll back government interference in the economy and to reach out once more to the developed countries da Silva eschewed in a bid to promote industrialization and growth among fellow developing economies. And Bolsonaro’s market reforms, like those of his predecessors, will come with foreign policy changes. Where da Silva looked to other countries in the Southern Hemisphere – namely states in South America and Africa, as well as China – for support and cooperation, the new Brazilian president is turning back toward wealthier northern states like the U.S., countries in Northern Europe and, of course, Israel.

For Israel, meanwhile, Bolsonaro’s interest is well-timed. Israel, a relatively small country, depends on trade and collaboration with other states to keep its economy humming. Surrounded as it is by rivals, however, it must look beyond the Middle East to find suitable partners. Latin America is a natural choice. The region’s many developing markets and trade potential make it an attractive destination for Israel, which, according to the latest World Bank figures, derives 30 percent of gross domestic product from exports. South America remains a largely untapped market for Israel, and it boasts a wealth of natural resources and numerous opportunities for investment, technology development and military modernization. Over the past couple years, Netanyahu has paid official visits to Colombia, Argentina and Chile, along with several countries in Central America. But Brazil is a standout in the region. Not only does it have a $1.93 trillion economy – the world’s ninth-largest, by the World Bank’s most recent data – but it also has recently pulled itself out of recession. Now that Bolsonaro has taken office, promises of deregulation and more open markets have made Brazil even more enticing.

The focus on economic ties in Latin America is something of a departure for Israel. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Israel built its relationships with regional states, including Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Argentina and Colombia, on military backing and support for various armed groups. Its ties with Brazil and nearby countries today are broader in scope by comparison. Nevertheless, military equipment still has a role to play in the partnerships.

In Brazil’s case, technology transfer and development are the priority. Brazil began talks with Israel in March 2018 to acquire and exchange scientific and defense technologies, an arrangement that would at once satisfy Israel’s desire to export military goods and services, its area of expertise, and Brazil’s need to acquire more advanced technology. The two also have reached nascent agreements over defense technology, such as missiles, radar and high-tech surveillance cameras, that could help modernize Brazil’s military and law enforcement. (Some recent Brazilian governments have shied away from making these kinds of deals, but Bolsonaro, a champion of the military and security forces, will welcome them.) Space exploration and satellites are other points of mutual interest. Brazil can benefit from Israel’s know-how on the subject, while Israel takes advantage of Brazil’s strategic launch sites near the equator…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

   

ISRAELI-JAPANESE FRIENDSHIP:

A POTENTIAL YET TO BE REALIZED                                                                     

Shaun Ho

JCPA, Dec. 25, 2018

In the past few years, Israel has begun to tilt toward the East. Prompted by declining political support from Europe, Jerusalem gradually turned to non-Western powers such as Russia and China for support. While Israel’s growing relationship with China, in particular, has gained widespread attention in recent years, little attention has been paid to Israel’s relationship with the other Asian economic superpower—Japan. Despite being the third largest economy and one of the most powerful countries in the world, Japan has often been below the radar in Israel’s foreign relations and vice versa. Until the 1990s, Japan avoided trade with the Jewish state because of its strong reliance on oil and gas imported from the Arab states and hence its compliance with the Arab League boycott of Israel. As a result, most Japanese firms were unwilling to trade with Israel until the Arab League boycott ended in the 1990s.1 Although relations between Israel and Japan have improved significantly, especially in trade and economic cooperation, these two countries have yet to develop a close political and economic relationship to the extent that Israel has with its Western allies and even China. Yet there is great potential for the two countries to develop deeper economic and even geopolitical ties, as both Japan and Israel would benefit considerably from increasing economic and technological cooperation, particularly in the field of innovation, and political cooperation on the international stage.

Despite both being developed nations, Japan and Israel have very different economic structures. The former has an enormous and mature economy dominated by conglomerates and other large corporations, while the latter has a relatively small but innovative economy whose growth is largely dependent on the myriad start-ups in “Silicon Wadi.” Additionally, corporate cultural differences between the two countries cannot be any starker. Japanese corporations are known globally for their rigid hierarchical structures and meticulous attention to detail, while Israelis are averse to vertical hierarchies and prioritize innovation over detail. Although it may seem that two countries with such contrasting cultures would not be able to work together effectively, these differences, in fact, would allow Japan and Israel to complement each other and alleviate each other’s structural weaknesses. As Glenn Newman wrote in the Japan Times in August 2018, “Israel and Japan are the yin and yang of countries. And yet, despite — or maybe because of — their differences, they have much to offer each other. Marrying their respective geniuses, Japan and Israel could be a killer combination.”

Following decades of economic boom in the post-war period, Japan’s asset price bubble burst, and its economy slumped into a period of stagnation known as the “Lost Decades” from the 1990s until well into the early 2010s. To reinvigorate the Japanese economy and make it more competitive on the world stage, in 2012 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe initiated a set of economic reforms known as “Abenomics,” which consists of three “arrows” (overarching policies): monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, and structural reforms. As part of the third “arrow” to reform the economic structure, the government is seeking to use innovation and technology to increase Japan’s competitiveness and economic growth. Although Japan is often regarded as one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world, it has been falling behind in innovation in recent years and losing its technological edge over countries such as the United States, South Korea, and China. Many critics contend that one major reason for the lack of innovation is that the rigid hierarchical structure of Japanese corporations and the cultural aversion to risk stifle innovation of new technologies and discourage entrepreneurship.

This is where Israel can potentially complement and play a role in Japan’s economy. In contrast to Japanese culture, which values structure, consensus-making, and meticulousness, Israeli culture is more egalitarian, more individualistic, and less risk-averse. As a result, Israelis are much more willing to develop new technologies and to engage in creative entrepreneurship, allowing Israel to become one of the most innovative countries and to have the highest number of start-ups per capita in the world. By investing in and cooperating with Israeli high-tech firms and start-ups, Japanese firms would be able to gain access to Israeli technology. Already, several Japanese corporations, such as Panasonic, NEC, and Ricoh have begun cooperation with Israeli companies in research and development (R&D) programs and plans to establish R&D centers in Silicon Wadi. Japanese automobile giants like Toyota, Nissan, and Honda have also started to invest in and cooperate with Israeli start-ups to improve their automotive technologies.789 Japan’s investments in Israeli start-ups would be immensely beneficial to the Japanese economy, not only because it would gain access to technology that it would not have otherwise, but also because many of these technologies would be potentially crucial to the Japanese government’s effort to create sustainable economic growth through innovation.

As part of the Abenomics reforms, for example, the Japanese government has launched an initiative called “Society 5.0,” which aims to shift Japan to an “innovative society” based on the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and big data. [See glossary below for definitions.] As a world leader in AI and big data technology, Israel can contribute toward many areas of this initiative.

One area toward which Israeli firms can contribute is health care. With its rapidly aging population, Japan is seeking ways to increase people’s access to health care, particularly in rural areas where the elderly are concentrated. The “Society 5.0” initiative aims to utilize AI and big data to improve people’s access to medical services and data. Having developed some of the top medical technologies in the world, Israeli firms can play a big role in Japan’s effort to innovate its medical data technologies. For example, Israeli startups such as Genoox and Aidoc, which have revolutionized the use of big data in health care, can complement Japan’s current medical data technology.

Another area in which Israeli technology would assist Japan’s transition into an innovative economy is financial technology (fintech). As one of the largest and most important financial markets in the world, Japan is surprisingly backward in fintech, falling behind most other advanced economies and even China and India. Furthermore, a high proportion of transactions in Japan are still conducted in cash, making Japan one of the most cash-dependent societies in the developed world. Because of the high transaction costs that come with cash payments, the Japanese government is promoting cashless payments and money transfers based on blockchain technology [See glossary below for definitions.] as part of the “Society 5.0” initiative…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

   

ISRAEL AND NORTH KOREA: A NEW OPPORTUNITY?

Dr. Alon Levkowitz                    

BESA, Dec. 31, 2018

In the early 1990s, Eitan Ben-Zur of the Israeli foreign office tried to explore the possibility of a deal with North Korea to halt its missile shipments to states in the Middle East that pose a threat to Israel. The deal would have included indirect Israeli economic assistance to Pyongyang to compensate it for the financial losses it would incur from the cessation of those sales. The Ben-Zur initiative was supported by Shimon Peres, the Israeli foreign minister.

In the end, the deal was not concluded due to a disagreement between the Israeli foreign office and the Mossad about its feasibility. Another barrier to the initiative was Washington’s objection to Jerusalem’s involvement with Pyongyang at a time when the US was trying to reach its own agreement with North Korea on the nuclear issue. Washington was disturbed by the Jerusalem-Pyongyang contacts despite the fact that Israel’s sole focus – missile shipments to the Middle East – was not perceived by the Americans as a critical issue.

Almost three decades later, Washington is negotiating with Pyongyang on an agreement that will include complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of its nuclear and long-range missile programs. Again, as occurred during the 1990s negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang, the agreement is not expected to view military exports to the Middle East as a core issue.

The current improvement in relations among Seoul, Pyongyang, and Washington does not include any mechanisms to verify and prevent the continuation of military exports, such as missiles, from North Korea to Syria and Iran. Israel does not have any leverage over Washington or Pyongyang to force them to prevent the continuation of North Korean military exports to the Middle East. That is why Jerusalem should take the opportunity to try an updated Ben-Zur initiative towards North Korea.

While Moon Jae-in might support such an initiative because it would be congruent with his own North Korea policy, Washington might object on the grounds that it would evade international sanctions and decrease Washington’s pressure on Pyongyang. Israel should therefore offer economic assistance to North Korea in agriculture, medical technology, and green energy on condition that Pyongyang starts to disarm itself. In so doing, Jerusalem could mitigate Washington’s objections and might be able to gain both American and South Korean support.

Israeli economic assistance to North Korea in exchange for a verified cessation of military exports would compensate Pyongyang for the losses it might face as a result of the decrease in military exports to the Middle East. This would help Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in legitimize their request to ease the sanctions on North Korea in order to pursue further joint economic projects.

Contents

   

CHINA IS AT A CROSSROADS

Brahma Chellaney                                  

Globe and Mail, Jan. 1, 2019

Four decades ago, the Chinese Communist Party, under its new leader Deng Xiaoping, decided to subordinate ideology to wealth creation, spawning a new aphorism, “To get rich is glorious.” The party’s central committee, disavowing Mao Zedong’s thought as dogma, embraced a principle that became Mr. Deng’s oft-quoted dictum, “Seek truth from facts.” Mr. Mao’s death earlier in 1976 had triggered a vicious and protracted power struggle. When the diminutive Mr. Deng – once described by Mr. Mao as a “needle inside a ball of cotton” – finally emerged victorious at the age of 74, he hardly looked like an agent of reform.

But having been purged twice from the party during the Mao years – including once for proclaiming during the 1960s that “it doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice” – Mr. Deng seized the opportunity to usher in transformative change. The Four Modernizations program under Mr. Deng remarkably transformed China, including spurring its phenomenal economic rise. China’s economy today is 30 times larger than it was three decades ago. Indeed, in terms of purchasing power parity, China’s economy is already larger than America’s.

Yet, four decades after it initiated reform, China finds itself at the crossroads, with its future trajectory anything but certain. To be sure, when it celebrates in 2019 the 70th anniversary of its communist “revolution,” China can truly be proud of its remarkable achievements. An impoverished, backward country in 1949, it has risen dramatically and now commands respect and awe in the world.

China is today the world’s largest, strongest and longest-surviving autocracy. This is a country increasingly oriented to the primacy of the Communist Party. But here’s the paradox: The more it globalizes while seeking to simultaneously insulate itself from liberalizing influences, the more vulnerable it is becoming to unforeseen political “shocks” at home. Its overriding focus on domestic order explains one unusual but ominous fact: China’s budget for internal security – now officially at US$196-billion – is larger than even its official military budget, which has grown rapidly to eclipse the defence spending of all other powers except the United States.

China’s increasingly repressive internal machinery, aided by a creeping Orwellian surveillance system, has fostered an overt state strategy to culturally smother ethnic minorities in their traditional homelands. This, in turn, has led to the detention of a million or more Muslims from Xinjiang in internment camps for “re-education.” Untrammelled repression, even if effective in achieving short-term objectives, could sow the seeds of violent insurgencies and upheavals.

More broadly, China’s rulers, by showing little regard for the rights of smaller countries as they do for their own citizens’ rights, are driving instability in the vast Indo-Pacific region. Nothing better illustrates China’s muscular foreign policy riding roughshod over international norms and rules than its South China Sea grab. It was exactly five years ago that Beijing began pushing its borders far out into international waters by pressing its first dredger into service for building artificial islands. The islands, rapidly created on top of shallow reefs, have now been turned into forward military bases.

The island-building anniversary is as important as the 40th economic-reform anniversary, because it is reminder that China never abandoned its heavy reliance since the Mao era on raw power. In fact, no sooner had Mr. Deng embarked on reshaping China’s economic trajectory than he set out to “teach a lesson” to Vietnam. The February-March 1979 military attack occurred just days after Mr. Deng – the “nasty little man,” as Henry Kissinger once called him – became the first Chinese communist leader to visit Washington.

A decade later, Mr. Deng brutally crushed a student-led, pro-democracy movement at home. He ordered the tank and machine-gun assault that came to be known as the Tiananmen massacre, according to a British government estimate, at least 10,000 demonstrators and bystanders perished. Yet, the United States continued to aid China’s economic modernization, as it had done since 1979, when president Jimmy Carter sent a memo to various U.S. government departments instructing them to help in China’s economic rise.

Today, a fundamental shift in America’s China policy, with its broad bipartisan support, is set to outlast Donald Trump’s presidency. This underscores new challenges for China, at a time when its economy is already slowing and it has imposed tighter capital controls to prop up its fragile financial system and the yuan’s international value…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

Contents

On Topic Links

A Golden Opportunity: Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom, Dec. 30, 2018—The crowds of people waving Brazilian flags to welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are just one reason for excitement. That President-elect Jair Bolsonaro bestowed Netanyahu – the first foreign leader to officially visit the country since Bolsonaro’s election – with his country’s highest honor is also just part of the story.

How the African-Israeli Rapprochement is About Poetic Justice: Amotz Asa-El, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 1, 2019—In the beginning the British had the Bible and the Africans had the land, said once Jomo Kenyatta, the father of modern Kenya. Then, he said, missionaries arrived, had the Africans close their eyes, and when they opened their eyes they saw the Africans had the Bible and the British had the land.

East Mediterranean Partnership Signals an Energy Revolution: Dr. Emmanuel Navon, JISS, Dec. 2, 2018—The announcement in November that Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy have agreed to build a natural gas pipeline (the longest in the world) from Israel’s offshore gas fields to Europe, clearly indicates that Israel has chosen the Greek option over the Turkish one.

The U.S. is Right to Worry About Co-Operation Between its Adversaries: Kori Schake, National Post, Nov. 15, 2018—President Donald Trump’s National Security Strategy puts much greater emphasis on the return to great power competition than other American post-Cold War strategy documents.

 

 

ISRAEL COUNTERS ISOLATION BY CULTIVATING “PERIPHERY:” FROM HERZL TO NETANYAHU: SO. SUDAN, CONGO, ALBANIA, POLAND

SOUTH SUDAN, ISRAEL’S NEW ALLY
Daniel Pipes

National Review, January 4, 2012

It’s not every day that the leader of a brand-new country makes his maiden foreign voyage to Jerusalem, capital of the most besieged country in the world—but Salva Kiir, president of South Sudan, accompanied by his foreign and defense ministers, did just that in late December. Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, hailed his visit as a “moving and historic moment.” The visit spurred talk of South Sudan’s locating its embassy in Jerusalem, which would make it the only government anywhere in the world to do so. This unusual development results from an unusual story.

Today’s Sudan took shape in the 19th century, when the Ottoman Empire controlled its northern regions and tried to conquer the southern ones. The British, ruling out of Cairo, established the outlines of the modern state in 1898 and for the next 50 years ruled separately the Muslim north and Christian-animist south. In 1948, however, succumbing to northern pressure, the British merged the two administrations in Khartoum under northern control, making Muslims dominant in Sudan and Arabic its official language.

Accordingly, independence in 1956 brought civil war, as southerners battled to fend off Muslim hegemony. Fortunately for them, Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion’s “periphery strategy” translated into support for non-Arabs in the Middle East, including the southern Sudanese. Through the first Sudanese civil war, which lasted until 1972, the Israeli government served as the south’s primary source of moral backing, diplomatic help, and armaments.

President Kiir acknowledged this contribution in Jerusalem, noting that “Israel has always supported the South Sudanese people. Without you, we would not have arisen. You struggled alongside us in order to allow the establishment of South Sudan.” In reply, Peres recalled his presence in the early 1960s in Paris, when the then-prime minister and he established Israel’s first-ever link with southern Sudanese leaders.

Sectarian fighting in Sudan continued intermittently until 2005. Over time, Muslim northerners became increasingly vicious toward their southern co-nationals, culminating in the 1980s and ‘90s with massacres, chattel slavery, and genocide.…

In 2005, the George W. Bush administration pressured Khartoum to sign the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended the war and gave southerners a chance to vote for independence. They enthusiastically did so in January 2011, when 98 percent voted for secession from Sudan, leading to the formation of the Republic of South Sudan six months later, an event hailed by Israel’s Peres as “a milestone in the history of the Middle East.”

Israel’s long-term investment has paid off. South Sudan fits into a renewed periphery strategy that includes Cyprus, Kurds, Berbers, and (one day) a post-Islamist Iran. South Sudan offers access to natural resources (especially oil). Its role in Nile River water negotiations offers leverage vis-à-vis Egypt. Beyond practical benefits, the new republic represents an inspiring example of a non-Muslim population’s resisting Islamic imperialism through its integrity, persistence, and dedication. In this sense, the birth of South Sudan echoes that of Israel.

If Kiir’s Jerusalem visit is truly to mark a milestone, South Sudan must travel the long path from dirt-poor international protectorate with feeble institutions to modernity and genuine independence. This path requires the leadership…to lay the foundations for successful statehood. For the Israelis and other Westerners, this means both helping with agriculture, health, and education and urging the administration in the capital city of Juba to stay focused on defense and development while avoiding wars of choice. A successful South Sudan could eventually become a regional power and a stalwart ally not just of Israel but of the West.

(Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum.)

ISRAEL LOOKS TO BOLSTER TIES WITH AFRICA
Emanuel Mfoukou

Jerusalem Post, January 1, 2012

Theodor Herzl, the father of the Zionist movement, revealed in his book Altneuland (Old New Land) that he not only carried a burden for founding a Jewish state, but that he also had a heart for Africa. “There is still one question arising out of the disaster of the nations which remained unresolved to this day, and whose profound tragedy only a Jew can comprehend. This is the African question,” wrote Herzl. “Once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my own people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans.”

When Israel won its independence in 1948, Herzl’s vision of working to better the lot of Africa was carried out to some extent by some of the nation’s early leaders. Foremost among them was Golda Meir, who led the drive to establish close bonds with sub-Saharan Africa in the 1950s and ‘60s. But in the wake of the 1967 Six Day War, Arab rulers sought to exact revenge for their defeat on the battlefield by forcing African countries to sever diplomatic ties with Israel. At the behest of Egypt, the Organization of African Unity (today the African Union) adopted a resolution condemning Israel for occupying the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza Strip. In order to garner African support for this resolution, the Arab states promised the newly independent nations of Africa to provide them with cheap oil and financial aid—promises which never materialized.

In the years since, Israel has slowly sought to repair the rupture in relations with African countries, but many on both sides of the equation sense it is now time for Africa to fully reconnect with Israel. “In the coming years, Africa will be a big player on the international arena. We need to develop the continent. We need a new kind of partnership [with Israel] based on mutual benefit, a win-win partnership,” said Bruno Itoua, Congo’s minister of energy and hydraulics, at a special meeting last month between Israeli diplomats and a group of African ambassadors stationed in Tel Aviv.

Itoua was in Israel to pursue an Israeli-Congolese cooperation agreement to help solve Congo’s water problems. Like many African countries, Congo has experienced difficulties in building the infrastructure necessary to supply its growing population with fresh water in a sustainable manner. During his visit, Itoua also attended the annual WATEC conference, a yearly exhibition of Israeli water technologies.…

Since its modern rebirth in 1948, Israel has emerged as one of the world’s most technologically advanced nations. Through its inventiveness, brain power and hard work, Israel has even managed to cause the desert to blossom, as foretold in Scripture (Isaiah 35:1). In fact, Israel’s vanguard drip irrigation systems and desalination plants can be found across the globe. Thus, Israel could have an important role to play in Africa’s development, through the sharing of its experiences in crucial areas such as water, agriculture, medicine and security.…

The African delegations attending the WATEC conference included Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who took the opportunity to sign an agreement that commits Israel to helping Kenya fully develop its water resources. Earlier this year, Israel sealed a similar deal with the Ugandan government to develop the country’s water infrastructure and eventually build 11 dams and reservoirs supplying two million Ugandans with water.… From Israel’s standpoint, the potential for expanding business and trade with Africa is enormous.…

Recognizing this vast economic potential, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently announced that Israel is looking to develop new strategic alliances around the globe, an initiative that will include a fresh outreach to Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa, with its growing economies and immense need for development in diverse sectors, represents a huge market for Israeli companies whose advanced technologies could bolster Africa in facing its many challenges.…

INDIA-ISRAEL RELATIONS
Arielle Kandel & Shalom Wald

Jerusalem Post, January 18, 2012

Last week’s visit of Indian Foreign Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna to Israel received extensive coverage in both Israel and India. It was the highest ranking Indian visit to Israel in 11 years.

There have been few visits by top-ranking Indian officials to Israel since the normalization of relations in 1992—none by an Indian president or prime minister. While Indian leaders generally express a genuinely sympathetic view of Israel in private, they are reluctant to publicize Indo-Israeli cooperation and achievements. They fear that overt partnership with Israel may antagonize India’s Muslims—who, representing close to 15 percent of the total population, form an important vote bank—and jeopardize India’s strategic ties with the Arab and Muslim Middle East.

The 2001 visit to Israel of Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh took place under the leadership of the BJP, a political party characterized by a nationalist and Hindu outlook and little dependent on Muslim support and votes. The recent visit of Indian Foreign Minister Krishna is all the more significant as the Indian governing coalition is now headed by the Congress, a party which traditionally has paid close attention to Muslim sensitivities.…

As India and Israel are celebrating 20 years of diplomatic relations, Krishna’s visit may indicate that India is at last willing to stop treating Israel as its mistress. It is indeed high time the Indian and Israeli leadership engage in an open dialogue, considering the extensive relationship the two countries have developed on the ground. Bilateral trade amounts today to $5 billion—and it could hit $15 billion if a free trade agreement is signed—and cooperation in the agriculture, water, homeland security and aerospace sectors (to mention just a few) has flourished over the past two decades. Besides, it is no secret that Israel has become one of India’s top defense suppliers and partners.… Finance minister Yuval Steinitz, during his visit to India in December 2011, declared that “Israel views its ties with India as its second most important relationship after the United States.…”

ALBANIA: ISRAEL’S BEST FRIEND AMONG MUSLIM COUNTRIES
Itamar Eichner

Ynet News, November 30, 2011

When Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha talks about Israel, one might mistake him for a Zionist leader.… But when these statements are made by a Muslim leading a European Muslim country they are definitely surprising.

The highlight was at the United Nations General Assembly, after the famous clash between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over the Palestinian statehood bid. When it was Berisha’s turn to talk, he openly criticized the Palestinian move. His General Assembly address did not exactly benefit Albania’s relations with Muslim countries, especially Iran, but he refused to take it back.

“Iran and its leader, [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, are the new Nazis, and the world must learn from the Holocaust and stop them before it’s too late,” Berisha says.… “The Holocaust taught the free world’s conscience not to let such a scenario repeat itself.”

When asked if Albania, as a NATO member, will join a military strike against Iran if and when such a decision is made, he immediately replies: “We’ll support such a move and join it, just like we supported the operation in Libya. It won’t be against the Iranian people, but against the nuclear facilities.”

It’s no wonder that during his recent visit to Israel, his third, Berisha held meetings with the president, prime minister, Knesset speaker and foreign minister, and was praised for his courageous opinions. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman even informed him of his decision to open an Israeli embassy in the Albanian capital of Tirana.

Berisha did not settle for these meetings and even visited the Western Wall, where he received a blessing from the holy site’s rabbi, Shmuel Rabinovitch.…

[Below are excerpts from Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha’s
recent interview with Israel’s
Yediot Ahronot newspaper—Ed.]

Why did you oppose the Palestinian UN statehood bid?

“The unilateral Palestinian move does not advance a political solution, but sabotages the peace process. The attempt to bypass Israel and the US is a mistake. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians must go through direct negotiations and by guaranteeing the security of both states. Shortcuts will do no good.”

Were you pressured by Arab countries or Iran because of your stance?

“We are in no way against the Palestinians. Whoever says that is completely wrong. But we have our own opinion, and we believe it’s the right way. Some countries, which have pushed the Palestinians to take radical steps, have taken an unacceptable stand against Israel. The solution must bring full security to both states, but I have not seen any support for the acceptance and recognition of the State of Israel.…”

What is your stand regarding the Iranian threat?

“A nuclear Iran is the biggest threat to peace in the Middle East and the entire world. It’s not just against Israel. The latest IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] report showed that Iran is working to acquire a nuclear weapon and won’t allow its facilities to be supervised. The Security Council must take all steps necessary to prevent a nuclear Iran.…”

ISRAEL-POLAND: A SORDID PAST AND A BRIGHT FUTURE
Joseph Puder

FrontPage, December 28, 2011

…Poland, with its long history of anti-Semitism has, ironically, become one of Israel’s closest allies in Europe, and it is now in position to render support to the Jewish nation by promoting Israel’s narrative in the EU. For Israel, it is an opportunity to drum up support in Europe, where the delegitimization campaigns against Israel have increased, particularly in western European media and on campuses.…

The population of Jews in Poland just prior to the outbreak of WW II was the largest in all of Europe and Warsaw, Poland’s capital, boasted a vibrant Jewish cultural life. More than a third of Warsaw’s residents were Jews, and the 3.3 million Jews of Poland represented 10% of the country’s population—the highest such demographic in Europe.

The Holocaust, which took place on Polish soil, decimated Polish Jewry. More than 90% of the Jews perished in Nazi run death camps—including Treblinka (where Warsaw’s Jews were sent to their death) Auschwitz, Belzec, Maidanek and Sobibor. Those who were not murdered in death camps died of starvation, beatings, and betrayal by anti-Semitic Poles. Conversely, many individual Catholic Poles risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors.

Poland’s Communist past is another sorry episode in the history of this former Soviet satellite and the Jewish nation. State sponsored anti-Semitism was pervasive throughout the 43-year long Communist rule. Poland, however, emerged from the fall of Communism as a strong constitutional democracy. Lech Walesa, the famed Solidarity Trade Unionist leader, became Poland’s first democratic president and he made a conscious effort to improve relations with the Jewish nation. The New York Times reported on May 21, 1991, that in an unusual, emotional speech to the Israeli Parliament, President Lech Walesa of Poland apologized for the anti-Semitism in Polish history.

Walesa, addressing the Knesset chamber filled with Israel’s leaders—some of whom were survivors of Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps built in Poland after the Germans overran the country, said, “Here in Israel, the land of your culture and revival, I ask for your forgiveness.” He issued his words knowing that many in the audience and others…blamed the Poles for not having done more to protect Jews from the Nazis.…

Responding to Walesa, Israel’s Prime Minister Itzhak Shamir, who was born in Poland and whose father was murdered by anti-Semitic Poles during WWII said, “The Polish president represents in his history and character the new Poland, liberated and rejuvenated, a Poland which aspires to join the era of integration into democratic, free nations. We want to hope and believe that the first official visit is a sign of the opening of a new page in relations between our people.…”

For Israelis, Poland represents an important market of 38 million customers. Poland is a dynamically developing country, populated by well-educated young people who are ambitious and eager to succeed. Poland’s geographic location, at the juncture of east-west and north-south trans-European communications routes, makes it a preferred station for exporting products not only to Western Europe but also to the east. Poland is also an emerging European Union power, and a key NATO member. Its economy grew faster than most EU states in 2010 with a GDP rate of 3.8%, and it sent 1200 of its troops to Afghanistan in support of NATO. Israel’s investment in Poland has past the $1.5 Billion mark.

Poland and Israel have held joint cabinet meetings, and both Poland’s current government and main opposition party are strong supporters of Israel. Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski have been outspoken defenders of Israel in international forums and Poland voted against the Goldstone Commission Report at the UN. Moreover, Poland joined the U.S. along with several other countries in boycotting the 2009 Durban Conference, and stayed out of the UN General Assembly hall during the address by Iran’s President Ahmadinejad.

When Prime Minister Tusk was in Jerusalem last February, he declared that Israel “can always count on Poland.” The Polish PAP news agency reported on September 19, 2011, that PM Tusk opined “Poland will certainly not vote for a resolution which would directly jeopardize Israel’s security.…”

Unlike Western Europe, Poland has no significant Muslim minority to consider, and they harbor no romantic notions about the Arabs like Britain and France, the former colonial powers. The Polish people, who guard their democracy fiercely, have a natural affinity with Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. Public opinion in Poland, contrary to what is being expressed in Western Europe, is overwhelmingly pro-Israel—which has impacted on government policies.… Today,  Poland…stand[s] alongside Israel in support.