Posted by: Michael Freund October 16, 2013 , 10:08 am
For a country often portrayed as isolated and alone in the international arena, Israel sure does seem to have a lot of thriving friendships.
Indeed, notwithstanding efforts by the media and the Left to paint a picture of the Jewish state as solitary and ostracized, Israel’s popularity appears to be on the upswing.
In just the past two weeks, the Jewish state has hosted the president of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, as well as an intergovernmental meeting with the entire Greek cabinet.
Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres visited Holland, where he addressed the Dutch parliament and had an audience with King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.
And Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin is off to South Korea this week on a diplomatic trip.
This flurry of activity came on the heels of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to the US, where he met with President Barack Obama and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in addition to delivering a speech to the UN General Assembly.
Not bad for lonesome little Israel.
Indeed, in what may be a sign of the times, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor announced earlier this month that the Jewish state has decided for the first time to run for one of the rotating seats on the UN Security Council in 2019-20. Asserting that Israel deserves to have a much-coveted seat at the table, Prosor said, “We’re going all-out to win. It’s about time.”
While that goal might seem overly ambitious, particularly given the UN’s traditional hostility toward Jerusalem, it nonetheless signals a growing sense of confidence about Israel’s standing in the world.
And that confidence is not without reason, as an increasing number of countries look to Israel to boost commercial, cultural and scientific ties in a range of fields.
Serbia, Singapore, Kenya and Colombia are just a few of the nations spanning several continents that have very close ties with Israel and are keen to tighten them still further.
Relations with emerging powers such as India and China have never been better, with intensive and extensive economic, trade and security links forging closer bonds of cooperation.
Other prominent countries, such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, are all solidly pro-Israel, defying criticism from the Palestinians and their supporters to cool their relationship with the Jewish state.
Clearly, the myth of Israel’s isolation is little more than a canard, one that is trumpeted by the Left for cynical political reasons.
Depicting Israel as forlorn and all but anathematized by the international community is a convenient way to press their agenda; insisting that if only Israel would capitulate to the demands of the Palestinians, the world would embrace us, and perhaps even like us, too.
But nations act out of their own self-interest and fortunately, Israel has a great deal to offer, in fields ranging from agriculture to biotechnology to hi-tech.
And in a world where economic strength is increasingly based on knowledge and know-how, the Jewish state’s importance is sure to grow.
Believe it or not, but African nations anxious for aid and technology, Asian countries hungry for trade and eastern European governments hankering for innovation have agendas that extend far beyond what might be happening in Ramallah or Gaza.
Obviously, then, Israel is neither a pariah nor a rogue state – we play an active part in the international community.
To be sure, there are critical issues such as the Iranian nuclear program or the future of Judea and Samaria where Israel’s position diverges from that of most countries. And we most certainly do seem to be on the receiving end of far more than our fair share of criticism.
But that is only one part of a much larger, and more nuanced picture, one in which our web of relationships is far more extensive than many of us realize.
The Left wants us to believe that Israel’s foreign affairs rotate solely around the axis of the Palestinian issue, as though that were the totality of our dealings and discussions with other countries.
Well guess what? It isn’t.
Israel is a lot more popular than the Left would have us believe.
Published in The Jerusalem Post