Aaron Boudaie gives us a new perspective about false image
Listening solely to mainstream media outlets, it seems to have become conventional wisdom that Israel is increasingly isolated from other nations.
Citing biased one-sided resolutions at the United Nations sponsored by Israel’s illiberal anti-Zionist neighbors, Israel’s critics claim the new coalition running the government, made up of moderate, conservative, and religious parties, has turned Israel into a pariah.
The opposite is true.
Israel in America and Europe
Israel’s friendships remain strong. Case in point: the prioritization of Israel in the United States Congress. Last week, over $50 million was spent in one campaign in Georgia – the most expensive congressional race in American history. The two candidates sparred in the most watched political battle in post-Trump America. They disagreed on every issue, with Jon Ossoff becoming a symbol for progressive opposition to Trump and Karen Handel representing traditional conservatism. Yet, they unequivocally agreed on one issue: strengthening the relationship between the United States and Israel. On Jon Ossoff’s website, thirteen issues are listed under “Priorities”. Along with education, health care, and other domestic issues, Ossoff dedicates a section to U.S.-Israel relations, where he pens a commitment “to Israel’s security as a homeland for the Jewish people” and calls the U.S.-Israel alliance a “historic, unbreakable bond”. Karen Handel’s website similarly dedicates a section to the “remarkable friendship” between the U.S. and Israel. Both promised to deepen economic ties and to combat the common threats facing the two nations.
It is clear: candidates for Congress across the nation are unanimous in their support for Israel. Resolutions expressing dismay with efforts to delegitimize Israel and support for Israel’s right to defend herself pass in Congress routinely with zero no votes. Legislation countering the aggression of terrorist groups and state sponsors of terror garner wholehearted support across the aisle. This past week, the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, cosponsored by 63 members, passed 98-2. Meanwhile, the European Union continues year after year to be Israel’s number one trade partner and Russia just became the first major nation to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Perhaps there are disagreements about the particulars of how to best achieve peace west of the Jordan River, but these differences of opinion exist in Israel, too. Likud, Kulanu, the Jewish Home, Shas, Yisrael Beiteinu, and United Torah Judaism make up the current government and all have different visions for peace. Moreover, the opposition parties offer stark contrasts to the coalition’s visions. Do not confuse debate for distaste – all disagreements between parties within Israel or between Israel and fellow liberal democracies center around what is best for Israel.
Israel in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East
Under the current Israeli government, we are witnessing the creation and growth of relations with countries outside of Europe and America. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it a priority to reach out to African, Asian, and Arab nations to bolster economic and security-based ties. Some of these relationships are unprecedented. The Prime Minister visited Africa twice in the past year. In Liberia earlier this month, Israel and several western African nations got together at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to sign several agreements to enhance bilateral ties in agriculture, homeland security, cyber security, culture, and science. In the past year, the Prime Minister has met with the leaders of Rwanda, Kenya, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Zambia, Uganda, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Cape Verde, Mali, Togo, Gambia, Swaziland, and Fiji – some more than once. This is special, as the Prime Minster put it: “Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel”. Meanwhile, in Asia, the Prime Minister has strengthened ties in a major way with not just India and China, but also Taiwan, Singapore, Kazakstan, Azerbaijan, and Cyprus. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Israel yet again this summer and trade with China continues to grow at an improbable rate. Both nations have been investing heavily in Israel, especially in Israeli technology and defense. Many of these African and Asian countries just a few years ago did not recognize Israel; today, they see Israel as a beacon of opportunity.
However, most impressive of the current government’s accomplishments is Israel’s increasingly normalized ties with its Arab neighbors. In 1967, Arab armies banded together in an attempt to wipe Israel off the map. 50 years later, today, major news outlets have been reporting on the historic possibility of Israeli relations with Saudi Arabia. The Turkish Foreign Minister recently said, “It’s good that we are now normalizing our relations with Israel”. Security co-operation between Israel, Egypt, and Jordan has never been stronger. Israel’s energy minister visited the United Arab Emirates earlier this year and Morocco sent a representative to Shimon Peres’ funeral. A few months ago, Saudi Arabia and the UAE made a proposal to fully normalize relations in trade and communication with Israel if Israel and the Arab League work together to advance peace. Behind the scenes, the current Israeli government has done great work to develop Israeli-Arab relations. The tide is turning.
Next time you hear someone call Israel isolated, correct the record. Israel has never been more connected to countries that used to ostracize her, included in partnerships with old and new friends, and integrated in the global economy.