While the Western world was agonizing about Brexit last week, the presidents of Russia and China were holding an important diplomatic confab. They were working on forging an alliance of non-Western nations. See this story from the Singapore-based Straits Times.
We tend to see the world revolving around whatever is happening in Europe and America. And yet, what with America’s retreat from international diplomacy and Europe fast on its way to becoming a basket case, a new world order is coming into being. Not the one that we thought we were going to see, but one where the center of diplomatic gravity is shifting toward the East.
This means, from the onset, that many of the old verities are being challenged, if not overthrown. While the West is agonizing about multicultural diversity and the pursuit of social justice, other nations are doing business.
Writing from Israel Caroline Glick notes that many of our preconceived notions about world politics are being discredited:
We are living at a time when preconceived notions are crashing down one on top of the other.
We thought that nothing would ever change in the Arab world. But the Arab world hasn’t merely changed, large portions of it have collapsed. And regimes that have so far survived are beating a path to Israel’s door.
We thought that American dominance in the Middle East would last forever. And today the US is withdrawing. Its withdrawal may be short-lived, or it may stay out for the foreseeable future. Whatever the case, Russia is already picking up the pieces.
That would be shocking enough. But even worse, as it has withdrawn, the US has turned a cold shoulder to Israel and its Sunni allies in a bid to build an alliance with Iran.
We thought that the European Union was the rising world power. We thought the euro was the currency of tomorrow.
Instead, Britain decided to bolt the EU and the euro zone is a disaster zone. European economic growth is sclerotic. European societies are coming apart at the seams under the crushing weight of failed monetary policies, over-regulation and mass emigration from the ruins of the Arab world.
The grandest illusion is also being overthrown: namely, that nothing good will ever happen to Israel until it caves in to Palestinian terrorism. For those who are curious to know where anyone ever got the idea that terrorism could be an effective way to make war, they need only examine the Western submissiveness when faced with Palestinian terrorism.
The view that Israel’s diplomatic fate is directly tied to its willingness to give up Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem is based on the Eurocentric view that the EU is the most important player in the diplomatic arena and that Israel cannot be successful unless Brussels supports us. For Israel’s elites, the fact that the EU is hostile to Israel is taken as proof that we are morally compromised and don’t deserve its support.
But as Israel’s diplomatic rise in Africa, Asia, Russia and beyond makes clear, the Eurocentric view is wrong. Israel needn’t waste its time and energy trying to appease the Europeans. Not only is it an exercise in futility, given Europe’s boundless and unhinged hostility. It is also unnecessary, given Europe’s economic weakness and political decay.
Due to our elite’s continued allegiance to the Eurocentric view, scant media attention has been paid to Israel’s diplomatic blossoming. Much of the public is unaware that far from being isolated, Israel is enjoying a diplomatic rise unseen since the end of the Cold War.
But amazingly, despite the fact that there is no peace process, rather than suffering from diplomatic collapse, it is springtime for Israeli diplomacy as governments around the world seek out closer ties with the Jewish state.
And they aren’t coming to us, despite our supposed moral failings. They are coming to us because they admire us.
As Prime Minister Netanyahu sets off on a diplomatic mission to Africa this week, other foreign leaders are expressing their admiration for Israel. At a time when Barack Obama is forging an alliance with Iran and abandoning traditional friends, when Obama and the left wing of the Democratic Party can only express contempt for Natanyahu, the president of Russia expresses his admiration for the Jewish state:
Last week Putin delivered an address before the All Russian Historical Assembly about the importance of teaching Russian history to Russia’s citizens.
Putin used Israel as a model for how historical knowledge empowers a nation.
Putin said, “Israel... relies and develops its identity and brings up its citizens with reliance on historical examples.”
Putin’s use of Israel as a positive role model showed that Putin’s sudden courtship of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not solely the product of strategic and economic interests.
He happens to admire Israel.
Writing in Bloomberg View Eli Lake makes a similar point:
Netanyahu has met with President Vladimir Putin four times in the last year. He has also worked out a deal, according to senior officials who spoke to me on background, in which Russia will allow Israeli jets to target members of the terrorist group Hezbollah operating in Syria, where Russians now control the air space.
And Israel is also establishing good relations with China and India. Lake writes:
Israel under Netanyahu is also expanding links with China, now the country's third-largest trading partner. Gold told me this week at his Foreign Ministry office that it's almost impossible to get a seat these days on the El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Beijing. A similar story can be told about Israel's relationship with India, whose Narendra Modi is expected to be the first Indian prime minister ever to visit Israel later this year. As the Israelis increase defense trade with India, it has also begun to end some of its historic support for the Palestinians at the United Nations.
And Lake also points out that Israel is repairing relationships across the Middle East. Even though many Arab countries continue to support the Palestinian cause in their public pronouncements, they are working diplomatically with Israel.
Finally, Israel is repairing and enhancing relationships in the Middle East. In 2011, Turkey downgraded its ties following Israel's raid on a flotilla trying to breach the naval blockade of Gaza. This month, Turkey's foreign minister announced that his country was one or two meetings away from normalizing the relationship again.
There is also much secret diplomacy between Israel and the Gulf monarchies. Israel has had such contacts with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates since the height of the peace process in the 1990s. But Gold told me there was an important difference between Israel's Arab diplomacy today and during the peace process years.
For this, among other reasons, Lake adds, the Boycott Divestment Sanction movement has failed:
Both sides of this fight give the impression that Israel is becoming a pariah. And yet BDS has failed as both an economic and diplomatic weapon. Consider that since 2006, when the movement began, Israel's gross domestic product has nearly doubled, going from a little over $154 billion to $299 billion for 2015.