Why the rise of Asian countries poses a deep problem for Israel


1:45 pm - January 14th 2013

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by Jonathan Kent

Ten years ago I watched Malaysia’s then Prime Minister deliver a speech to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference that was intended to be his swansong but ended up sending him off in a storm of controversy.

Mahathir Mohammad observed that fifty years of fighting had won the Palestinians nothing, whereas the pro-Israel lobby had won the country powerful friends and invaluable backing.

But then he went on: “The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.”

As soon as Western reporters heard blanket references to ‘The Jews’ ruling the world it was game over in the international media. The echoes of thirties fascist rhetoric were too strong. Yet, in the hall, there was almost universal acceptance of Mahathir’s characterisation of the influence of ‘The Jews’.

I was reminded of the speech because with Israel poised to elect a government even more right wing than the last it’s clear it has an emerging dilemma.

For the last sixty five years Europe’s collective guilt, not just over the holocaust but over 800 years of often virulent anti-Semitism, has bolstered support for the state of Israel.

Sections of the pro-Israel lobby have become quite adept at conflating criticism of the Israeli authorities with anti-Semitism, often enraging those on the European left who want to see Israel thrive but who also want redress for the Palestinians.

But as the world’s power centre shifts Eastwards during the 21st Century it simply won’t be possible to play that card to any great effect. There is simply an almost complete absence of sensitivity in Asia, and not just amongst Muslims, to Jewish history. As Mahathir observed, the holocaust wasn’t an Asian problem, it was a European problem.

The unquestioning anti-Semitism that I found infecting Malaysia (the main ruling UMNO party sold copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in its bookshop) developed in a cultural and historical vacuum; there is, to all intents and purposes, no Jewish community in Malaysia. With no one to challenge the craziness the craziness gets accepted unthinkingly. It wasn’t just Muslims who bought into the ‘Jews ruling the world’ line – it was parroted by ethnic Chinese Buddhists, ethnic Tamil Hindus and Christians of all backgrounds just as readily.

When, in the decades to come, decisions are taken in Beijing and Delhi on Middle East policy they’ll be taken for purely pragmatic reasons. There will be none of the sense of history and responsibility felt in Europe or America.

China and India may well take Israel’s side, but if they do so it’ll be because it suits their national interests. And if their political leaders find themselves having to take sides in an intractable stand-off between Israel and the Palestinians they may see a choice between being friends with 8 million Israelis or with 1.5 Billion Muslims because it may not be possible to be friends with both.

And, should either of those rising superpowers decide that Israel’s interests conflict with their own, charges of anti-Semitism will neither register, nor influence matters one iota. Nor will protestations that Israel is a democratic island in an autocratic sea.

The pro-Israel lobby is going to have rethink and seek a solution to its current situation that will withstand the shifting sands of global power.


Jonathan Kent blogs at: Land of Oak and Iron

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1. Closet Zionist

Yet another claim – again – from the left that the “pro-Israel lobby” systematically uses false accusations of anti-semitism.

Yet it’s nonsense that it does. It’s a straw man, set up to undermine true concerns about how Israel is portrayed and how criticism of “Zionism” (such as that which has come from Malaysia) slips into anti-Semitism.

Now I appreciate that there are individuals who see anti-Semitism in anti-Israel criticism. Of course. And that’s reactionary and wholly uninfluential.

But give one example of somebody serious (or a serious organisation) claiming that genuine criticism of accurately portrayed Israeli actions or policy is anti-Semitism. OK. Our views on ‘genuine’ and ‘serious’ might differ but give it a go, eh?

(For what it’s worth, I can think of two that sort of come close but have been laughed out of the debate and not affected anything).

What we now have is anti-Israel activists smearing the Israel-sympathetic as anti-Semitic smearers. Pathetic.

Supporters of Israel may have to adjust to the growing influence of Asian countries, but not for the straw man reasons raised here.

Reflect on the reality that Zionists are among their own worst enemies, closely followed by pro-Israel activists and the Netanyahu coalition government, which continues to allow the building of settlements on occupied Palestinian lands in the apparent belief that no one outside Palestine knows what is going on.

YouTube is rich territory for posted videos showing Israeli settlers in Palestine harassing long-resident Palestinians, Muslim and Christian.

“When, in the decades to come, decisions are taken in Beijing and Delhi on Middle East policy they’ll be taken for purely pragmatic reasons. There will be none of the sense of history and responsibility felt in Europe or America”

I’d say foreign policy decisions in the US and europe already reflect pragmatic reasons rather than history or any sense that the US and europe owes a duty to Israel because of the holocaust.

” But as the world’s power centre shifts Eastwards during the 21st Century it simply won’t be possible to play that card to any great effect. ”

The other side of this is with the shift in power also comes responsibilities. Geopolitics is going to be transformed over the next two decades and since the geopolitics have huge implications for the Middle East, the change in geopolitics will also impact Israel. More than half the oil now consumed in Asia-Pac is produced in the Middle East and they do virtually nothing to protect supplies. A quarter of Iraq’s supplies will be going to China by 2035. They are freeriding on western security protecting Gulf supplies i.e. US security. The Carter Doctrine of 1980, which made clear that the US would use military force to protect ME oil supplies and keep open Gulf shipping lanes. That world no longer exists because the US no longer depends on the ME oil to the same extent.

The US gets around 20 percent of its oil from Saudi Arabia and the rest from its own domestic sources, Canada, Mexico and West Africa. Saudi Arabian percentage share is continually falling and the US domestic sources are rising. Therefore, it is not sustainable that the West effectively provide the security blanket in the ME, and an increasing amount of the oil heads East. Asia are going to have to step up their game and protect their own supplies, because the West are increasingly going to disengage from ME security. With rising power comes rising responsibilities because you can’t rely on others for security.

None of that means the western nations would not be hugely impacted from disruption to oil supplies heading to Asia. They would because the global economy is an interconnected world. But the entire rules of the game are changing and it is a side of the shift in power that I am not sure Asian nations fully appreciate. Where that leaves Israel as western security disengages from the Middle East only time will tell. But this epoch change in geopolitics will profoundly affect them as they possibly find the US less interested.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3fa97bf8-1dce-11e2-8e1d-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2Hxj49ixo

The US gets around 20 percent of its oil from Saudi Arabia and the rest from its own domestic sources, Canada, Mexico and West Africa

Add Venezuela.

A flawed analysis. The rise of China and India will be good for Israel.

India, as a ‘non-aligned’ nation used to support the Palestinians, expecting help in dealing with its own Muslim problems in return. They never got any, and India is now a supporter of Israel. That is unlikely to change as long as Pakistan continues it’s terrorist ways.

China will turn out to be Islam’s greatest scourge. The real clash of civilizations will be between China and the Islamic world.

Closet Zionist

Yet another claim – again – from the left that the “pro-Israel lobby” systematically uses false accusations of anti-semitism.

Denying that this can be true is preposterous given the treatment of Chuck Hagel in recent weeks.

Four days after that, in a column entitled “Chuck Hagel’s Jewish Problem,” Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal wrote that when Hagel “carries on about how ‘the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,’ the odor [of prejudice] is especially ripe.” The next day, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin accused Hagel of “rank prejudice against American Jews.” She also quoted the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman as stating that “the sentiments he’s [Hagel’s] expressed about the Jewish lobby border on anti-Semitism in the genre of professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt and former president Jimmy Carter.”

Then, on Jan. 7, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Elliott Abrams told NPR that Hagel “appears to be … frankly an anti-Semite.”

Not sure if it’s really true that bigotry and prejudice is endemic in Asia but to whatever extent it exists I hope it’s seen as a problem for all of us, not just supporters of one particular country.

I understand that the anti-Israel Left perspective in this article required the author to cut the suit of his anti-Israel arguments to fit the cloth of his core ideals, but on straight-up reporting merits this is a very, very badly written piece.
For one thing, it doesn’t make any case that European governments are supportive of Israel out of guilt for carrying out the Holocaust. It would be hard to do so when the only country that really has that historical view is Germany (for obvious reasons)–and that most European countries aren’t particularly supportive of Israel in any case! To the extent they have good ties with Israel, they are also having good ties with Muslims. You know the 8M/1.5B divide that the author smugly cites as a barely concealed plea for future Asian powers to turn on Israel (which he clearly wants to happen) as Israel desperately and unsuccessfully accusing them of anti-Semitism (which he clearly hopes will happen at the same time).
And I have no idea why the author conflates Malaysia, a country led by an anti-Semitic asshole for decades with little tradition of tolerance for anyone, with China and India, but also with other Asian powers he didn’t identify. Hell, Indonesia isn’t pro-Israel but they’re like Singapore in re: Jerusalem compared to Malaysia! If he admires Malaysia’s anti-Semitism and wants to see it replicated elsewhere, he should make an intellectual case for why that can/should happen. He hasn’t.
Lastly, the Asia argument is about a generation too late regarding shunning of Israel, since both Beijing and New Dehli didn’t have ties with Israel for most of the Cold War era. Does anyone expect that they’ll duplicate that along the party line for Teheran instead of Moscow?
This was a stupid, lazy example of why most anti-Israel campaigning is ineffective. Next time do some homework before you write.

@8 Thanks Ben. You’ve amply illustrated exactly the concern I was trying to highlight with your delightful insinuation “If he admires Malaysia’s anti-Semitism and wants to see it replicated elsewhere, he should make an intellectual case for why that can/should happen.”
I abhored the anti-Semitism I found in Malaysia just as abhor all forms of racism. But you’ve played exactly the card that I’m suggesting won’t be very effective in the Asia of the future.
@1 Closet Zionist – see above. QED.
For what it’s worth I’m not suggesting that to support Israel leds somehow inexorably to smearing people as anti-Semitic. Plenty of those actively lobbying in favour of Israel do so within a reasoned debate (and there are those across the spectrum whose anti-Israel rhetoric descends into plain abuse and outright racism). I’m simply pointing out that there’s a different register of sensitivity across Asia than in Europe and the US. It’ll be realpolitik full stop. There’s no domestic pro-Israel lobby to speak of in most Asian countries.
How China and India see relations with Israel in the light of their having huge Muslim minorities is extremely complex, but it has the potential to be an major consideration – but how that will play out is almost impossible to predict.

11. So Much for Subtlety

9. Jonathan Kent

It’ll be realpolitik full stop. There’s no domestic pro-Israel lobby to speak of in most Asian countries.
How China and India see relations with Israel in the light of their having huge Muslim minorities is extremely complex, but it has the potential to be an major consideration – but how that will play out is almost impossible to predict.

There may be no pro-Israel lobby, but there is certainly a large anti-Islamist one in virtually every non-Muslim country in Asia. China and India both have huge problems with their own Islamist terrorists. Which means they are hardly going to be sympathetic to Hamas.

Sure, it will be genuine political interests. But no one has a genuine political interest aligned to the Palestinians except the Syrian government.

However none of this even notices the real point – power is shifting to people who do not even begin to share the moral values of the West. That is the real story. Take something like conservation. The rise of Asia means the end to the Tiger, the Elephant, probably all species of Rhino. Because they don’t care about what you care about. There is the real story.

@1: Yet another claim – again – from the left that the “pro-Israel lobby” systematically uses false accusations of anti-semitism.

The Israel lobby most certainly do make false accusations of anti-Semitism. They’ve done it against me, for example.

As to whether they “systematically” do it, I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean. If

China and India may well take Israel’s side, but if they do so it’ll be because it suits their national interests. And if their political leaders find themselves having to take sides in an intractable stand-off between Israel and the Palestinians they may see a choice between being friends with 8 million Israelis or with 1.5 Billion Muslims because it may not be possible to be friends with both.

India has hostile relations with a major Muslim country, Pakistan, so is unlikely to have good relations with the Muslim world any time soon.

China, on the other hand, is a major oil importer, and the Arabs have got more oil than the Israelis, so it’s pretty obvious whose side they are likely to take.

However none of this even notices the real point – power is shifting to people who do not even begin to share the moral values of the West.

There’s an element of truth to that, even a strong element, but I still; think you’ve worded it too forcefully. Asians, like Europeans, are human, and at heart both their values are based on human nature as encoded in our genome.

As to what we should do about it: strengthen the European Union. Britain is 3.5% of the world economy whereas the EU is 25%, so it’s obvious to anyone who is not a UKIP supporter that we have more clout as part of the EU than on our own.

What intellectual thuggery!

In the article and in most of the comments, there is a blanket assumption that muslims are a problem to be dealt with.

I would have only expected Netanyahu, Liebermann and Naftali Bennett to have been pushing that line. If I recall Bennett is kind enough to put aside the ‘greater israel’ for 60% of the West Bank, for now.

But Netanyahu is too dishonest, his rhetoric consists of only nods and winks. And yet they’d spent decades telling every westerner that Arafat wasn’t a partner for peace, he said one thing in English and the opposite in Arabic. Now it turns out it was Netanyahu who was playing all along.

It is a disgrace to present citizens of their native lands to be a problem, eg muslims in India and in China. That is no reason for allying with Israel. It should be a reason for resolving whatever differences there are within their respective countries, and to take into account its peoples’ wishes – it may well be they do not want to be friends of Israel.

I would expect this sort of analysis and comments to appear on the Gates of Vienna blog, albeit with lies and hyper-deceit. But this casts the net much wider, from so-called ‘stopping islamisation of europe’ to ‘demuslimisation of India and China’.

Israel’s real problem has been Likud and Netanyahu specifically. It is he who has brought Israel to this juncture. He worked at destroying Oslo. He says so himself. But his real triumph has been the nurturing and the co-option of Christian-turned-Zionists in the 90’s.

His electoral victory will be pyrric for man and country, as the enlightened Left of Israel clearly recognises.

At no time has he allowed a debate to develop between the peoples of his ‘tough neighbourhood’. His entire effort has been to skew the perceptions of his neighbours in the US and Western Europe as less than worthless – to be cajoled or paid-off.

I had always viewed Netanyahu as an astonishingly smart politician. Probably THE cleverest of all leaders. But this time even he has over-reached. When the moment comes he will need to create yet another existential threat. He clearly rules through fear.

I do think anti-semitism has to be tackled wherever its found, by taking it back to its roots. Europe. And demonstrating it to non-European countries to be so. Whilst at the same time not let Israel get away with its brutalising ways, starting with action by the ICC.

It does not help that Likudniks seek to exploit divisions in other countries so that it doesn’t have to put its own house in order.

“You’ve amply illustrated exactly the concern I was trying to highlight with your delightful insinuation “If he admires Malaysia’s anti-Semitism and wants to see it replicated elsewhere, he should make an intellectual case for why that can/should happen.”
I abhored the anti-Semitism I found in Malaysia just as abhor all forms of racism. But you’ve played exactly the card that I’m suggesting won’t be very effective in the Asia of the future.”

Not going to rehash what I wrote except for the salient point that Malaysia is a TERRIBLE choice as a point of comparison when discussing Israel’s future relations with countries in Asia. I have no idea why you found Kuala Lumpur a plausible bellwether for potential actions in Beijing, New Dehli, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, and so forth. If it was because you spent most of your time there, fine, but Malaysia is an indicative of what you were trying to prove for Israel in Asia as Venezuela is for Israel in Latin America (not least after the looming death of Hugo Chavez). I just don’t see the facts supporting your idea, and don’t like or respect the decision to frame the argument with the most devotedly anti-Israel regime in the entire Asian theatre (and one whose neighbors, as documented fact, have not shared KL’s ugliest views on the Jewish State).

17. Just Visiting

Phil hunt

> Asians, like Europeans, are human, and at heart both their values are based on human nature as encoded in our genome.

Wrong. Totally wrong. Naively wrong.

Anthropologists spend there careers comparing and contrasting cultural attitudes around the world – simply because they do vary.

Just one obvious example – In Turkey men in prison for killing their own daughters: who obviously value ‘honour’ more than the live of their own genetic offspring: are treated as equals in prison and not persecuted by the other prisoners.

The other prisoners view is ‘we would have done the same in your shoes’.

comapre/contrast treatment in UK of prisoners who have killed children: they are persecuted by other prisoners as having done something unforgivable.

18. Just Visiting

Refresh

> I do think anti-semitism has to be tackled wherever its found, by taking it back to its roots. Europe.

Aren’t you ignoring the virulent stream of anti-semitism of some in Islamic lands – that has it’s source in the words and actions of Mohammed?

Can’t blame just Europe.

The historic roots of antisemitism are speculative and controversial. One historic thread goes back to the Catholic church’s portrayal in medieval times of jews as Christ’s killers:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_deicide

What is certainly true is that there were early manifestations of extreme antisemitism in England in medieval times.

“The site of Clifford’s Tower, the keep of York’s medieval castle, still bears witness to the most horrifying event in the history of English Jewry. On the night of 16 March 1190, the feast of Shabbat ha-Gadol, the small Jewish community of York was gathered together for protection inside the tower. Rather than perish at the hands of the violent mob that awaited them outside, many of the Jews took their own lives; others died in the flames they had lit, and those who finally surrendered were massacred and murdered.”

In 1290, Edward I issued an edict expelling jews from England. Curiously, it was Oliver Cromwell who invited jews back to settle in 1655. For details, see the Wikipedia entry for: History of the Jews in England

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81), the grandson of jewish immigrants to Britain, became leader of the Conservative Party and, in due course, Prime Minister in 1868 and 1874-1880. He was baptised a Christian at the age of 12 and remained a devout Anglican for the rest of his life.

Pope Paul II issued a declaration on The Relations of the Church to Non-Christian Religions for the Second Vatican Council in 1965 which included this passage:

Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.

True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.

Try this timeline for the antisemitism of the Catholic church going back to the 4th century:
http://shatteredparadigm.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/brief-history-of-roman-catholic-anti.html

It would be inaccurate to attribute all blame for antisemitic sentiment in Europe on the Catholic church. Martin Luther, one of the initial sources of inspiration for the Protestant Reformation in Germany became increasingly outspoken about professing his antisemitic sentiments – see the Wikipedia entry for: Martin Luther and antisemitism.

And there is another rather curious possibility. Purple passages of virulent antisemitic prose in Hitler’s Mein Kampf show that he was unbalanced and pathologically obsessive about his hatred. It has been suggested that this personal pathological hatred could have developed from boyhood experiences at school:

“Wittgenstein and Hitler both attended the Linz Realschule, a state school of about 300 students, and were there at the same time from 1903 to 1904, according to Wittgenstein’s biographers. While Hitler was just six days older than Wittgenstein, they were two grades apart at the school—Hitler was repeating a year and Wittgenstein had been advanced a year. ”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jew_of_Linz

There is a fairly wide prevailing consensus that Wittgenstein became the most influential philosopher of the 20th century. The text in PDF format of Wittengenstein’s book: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, is available online.


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