Friday, October 29, 2021

Israel Today

I will spare you Tom Friedman’s deranged notion to the effect that Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the connivance of Mother Nature are improving conditions in the Middle East.

Everyone but Friedman knows that Biden’s surrender of Afghanistan was a catastrophe. Relying on Mother Nature is simply a way to deny the Trump administration any credit for the Abraham Accords. Not strangely, Friedman does not see the Abraham Accords as having contributed to the construction of a new Middle East.

Keep in mind, a decade or so ago Friedman was camping out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, celebrating the downfall of the Mubarak regime and awaiting the arrival of the democratically empowered Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, the hapless and hopeless Hillary Clinton was the first foreign leader to greet the newly elected Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi. She was doubtless rewarding his party’s support for female genital mutilation. 

Anyway, a more serious journalist in a more serious newspaper, Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times, reports from a recent trip to Israel. We all love our geopolitics, but it is good to take a look at what is happening on the ground.

Visit Israel, as I did last week, and you still hear regular dark warnings about Iran and terrorism. But what is far more striking is the mood of buoyant optimism among the country’s political and business leaders.

Israel has enjoyed more than a decade of rising prosperity and relative peace. Its per capita income is now higher than that of Britain. The country’s booming tech industry boasts more than 70 unicorns (tech start-up companies valued at $1bn or more), which is about 10 per cent of the global total. Venture capital is pouring into the country. Israel is also a world leader in the fight against Covid-19, vaccinating its population faster than any other country.

A country is known by its economic and social progress. This being given, it is clear that it is in the interest of Israel’s Muslim neighbors to develop economic and commercial ties. And then, Rachman credits the Abraham Accords:

Most intoxicatingly of all, Israelis feel that they are breaking out of the international isolation that has long threatened the country with pariah status. The immediate cause for this is the Abraham Accords, which have normalised Israel’s relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and, more tepidly, Morocco and Sudan.

Issawi Frej, Israel’s minister for regional co-operation, enthuses that the accords offer the country huge opportunities for economic growth. Frej, who is an Arab-Israeli, recently attended a meeting in Abu Dhabi with the Abraham accord countries, Egypt and Jordan. He predicts that more countries in the region will join the accords soon.

Relations with the United Arab Emirates are moving forward at a good pace:

Despite the pandemic, it feels like every prominent Israeli has recently visited the UAE. They come back enthusing about the novelty of flying over Saudi airspace and the warmth of their reception in Dubai.

And then there are the commercial ties. The parties to the Abraham Accords are doing business together.

There are also more tangible pay-offs. Many Israeli companies are doing deals in the UAE. Israel Aerospace Industries, a leading tech exporter closely linked to the military, has established a facility in Abu Dhabi. Like other Israeli companies, it sees the Gulf as a jumping off point for new global markets.

The Abraham Accords broke the longstanding linkage between the Palestinian issue and Middle East peace. Clearly, the Biden administration is still mired in the past, and still wants to empower Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. It seems to be playing a losing hand:

One senior western diplomat in Israel says that 15 years ago diplomacy with Israel was “80 per cent Palestine, 20 per cent other things. Now it is 20 per cent Palestine, 80 per cent other things.” Israel’s technological prowess is key to changing its relationship with the outside world. As the diplomat puts it: “The world wants what Israel is selling.”

And then there is the fact that China, India and Russia are more interested in commercial ties and scientific exchanges than in wasting themselves and their people on the lost Palestinian cause.

For the current generation, other issues are more pressing. In Washington, the growing rivalry between the US and China is the defining issue. The governments of China, India and Russia see Israel primarily as a tech partner and a geopolitical actor. In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are more worried by the threat from Iran than the fate of the Palestinians. The shared fear of Iran, in Israel and the Gulf, underpinned the Abraham Accords.

If Hamas thought that firing rockets into Israel and inciting an Israeli counterattack that killed Palestinian children would derail the Abraham Accords, it was wrong. True, the New York Times ran a front page blood libel against Israel, picturing dead Palestinian children under the headline: They Were Only Children. True enough, liberal Jewish Times readers did not notice.

And yet, the American left and the Biden administration had backed the wrong team. Rachman concludes:

An outbreak of fighting with Hamas in May saw at least 260 Palestinians killed by Israeli strikes on Gaza; with 13 people killed in Israel, mainly by Hamas rockets. But international condemnation of Israel subsided quickly. The Abraham Accords were not derailed and neither was the decision of Ra’am, an Arab-Israeli party, to participate in the new coalition government.

The implications for the Palestinians are bleak. Their cause remains high on the agenda of the left in the West. But with weakening support in the Arab world, the Palestinian ability to put pressure on Israel is weakening.

The pessimistic view is that an increasingly confident Israel will now feel free to press ahead with further colonisation of the West Bank. But there is an alternative path. Support for the peace process in Israel collapsed after the terror attacks of the second intifada from 2000-2005. A more secure and optimistic Israel could also be a more generous country.

To this we will add that an Israeli source, called Globes, reported today that Israel and Saudi Arabia are in advanced talks to establish diplomatic ties.

Senior US sources have confirmed that there are advanced talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia on establishing diplomatic relations. The sources said that it was not clear if Saudi Arabia would join the Abraham Accords and establish full normalization, or make do with lower level economic trade ties.

This would probably involve representative offices to deal with economic and trade matters and other topics, like handling the Covid pandemic. Israeli sources told "Globes" yesterday that diplomatic talks have intensified recently between Israel and some Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, as part of the Abraham Accords.

Serious people are involved in serious and delicate diplomacy. Serious journalists are writing serious articles about the situation on the ground. Tom Friedman, when he is not baying at the moon, is writing decidedly unserious drivel about how we should just leave it all to Mother Nature.


art.the.nerd said...

It is wonderful to wake up and read good news. Shabbat shalom, Stuart.

IamDevo said...

Obviously, both Israelis and Arabs can see that since Biden and his left wing cabal are not interested in retaining political and military ties with either Israel or Saudi Arabia it is in their mutual interest to collaborate in defense of their national sovereignty against the attacks from Iran and its Islamist surrogates. The House of Saud is tired of defending itself against Houthi "rebels," whose Iranian masters fund and direct their activities. Israel, of course, is under constant existential threat from the Iranian nuclear program. Biden and his cabal are bound and determined to overthrow the established order in The West and bring in their version of the New World Order, which makes Iran the hegemon in the Near East, the EU in Europe and China as the ruling power in Asia. The Great Reset has as its goal the establishment of a ruling class in the West that can coordinate with its coevals in the Near and Far East, which requires the destruction of Christian America. This was predicted thousands of years ago, in the Books of Daniel, Ezekiel and The Revelation. The rise of anti-Christ and all that follows may be upon us.