Thursday, July 6, 2017

Narendra Modi in Israel

As many Arab nations are working to reform their cultures and to enter the modern world of commerce and industry, the Palestinians cling to their cause. Effectively, they are sidelining themselves. They are losing the support of their Arab allies and even of the European Union.

Meanwhile, Israel marches forward. This week, with the visit of Indian President Narendra Modi, the Israeli-Indian relationship is taking a great leap forward.

The Financial Times reports, via The American Interest:

Mr Modi’s trip, which begins on Tuesday, puts the seal on an increasingly close relationship, underpinned especially by billions of dollars in arms sales.  […]

During the three-day visit, Mr Modi will discuss trade with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as addressing a crowd of around 4,000 people of Indian origin in Tel Aviv.

But he is not planning to travel to Ramallah to visit Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. While Mr Modi hosted Mr Abbas in Delhi last month, this trip will be focused on India’s expanding defence, technological and commercial ties with the Jewish state.

“Mr Modi is de-hyphenating relations,” says PR Kumaraswamy, who teaches on the Middle East at Jawaharlal Nehru University. “Its links with Israel are no longer merely an aspect of its policy towards the Palestinians.”

Who is joining Modi on his visit? Corporate chieftains who want to establish closer business ties with the Jewish state:

When Modi visits Israel this week, he will bring 15 top executives from Indian firms like Wipro and Reliant to establish a joint CEO forum with Israel. That is a sign of how innovative commercial exchanges are already transforming the relationship. In the agriculture sector, for instance,  Israeli water recycling technology is helping India grow food more efficiently; Israel has also established 26 agricultural expertise centers in India to teach local farmers new tricks. In the cyber field, meanwhile, Israel Aerospace Industries is working with local Indian partners on space cooperation and developing high-res radar satellites. All this redounds to India’s benefit; expect more high-profile deals in crucial sectors to be announced during Modi’s trip.

It is a diplomatic triumph for Prime Minister Netanyahu:

But this is not just a story about a transactional exchange of arms, money, and expertise. It is also about the successful expansion of Israeli diplomacy away from Europe. From the Gulf to Africa to all across Asia, Israeli diplomacy is more active and diversified than ever before.

This is important for many reasons, but fundamentally it reflects a recognition that Israel is not a West European state. Much of Israel’s population consists of refugees from the Arab world, many of whom fled or were driven from their ancestral homes by Arabs enraged and humiliated by Israeli victories in 1949, 1957 and 1967. Others come from parts of Russia that were never part of the West.

Israel’s integration into the non-western world was delayed by Arab hostility. But Arab power is weakening: of the world’s major cultural and economic regions, only sub-Saharan Africa has had less economic and political development since World War Two than the Arab world. As OPEC’s power over world oil prices declines, and as sectarian war and political failure rip the Arab world apart, Israeli tech prowess and close links to the United States make it a valued partner for more and more of the postcolonial world.

Westerners who judge Israeli leaders solely by their willingness to make concessions to the Palestinians have long considered Netanyahu a frustrating figure and a poor strategist. Frustrating he may be, but Israel’s steady progress in reducing its diplomatic isolation while diversifying its exports on his watch is a significant accomplishment. It’s difficult to think of any Western leaders who have done as much to advance their country’s interests. The fact that Netanyahu has done more to build Israeli ties with the third world than Obama managed to achieve for the U.S. is one of the ironies of the modern world.

The same applies to Israel’s relations with the Sunni Arab world. The nations that allied themselves with the United States in Riyadh have much to gain from better relations with Israel. They have gained nothing but a bad reputation from their funding of the Palestinian cause… and from their funding of terrorist training schools.


Sam L. said...

India can get high-tech items and assistance from the Israelis, and only trouble and strife from the Palis.

James said...

This will have affects that will be felt for a long time and in ways not apparent at the moment.