You thought that our diplomatic situation was on the ropes? Not exactly, according to Professor Shlomo Ben-Ami, Barak's foreign finister and senior alumnus of the Labor party who published an article last week on the respected Project Syndicate website, in which he reaches a surprising conclusion.
"It is often said that the ongoing occupation is harmful to Israel's international standing," he writes. "The truth is that Israel enjoys global influence that is unprecedented in its history."
True, writes Ben-Ami, Israel's popularity in the West was dropping, but the State found new partners. From 2004 to 2014, exports to Asia tripled. Trade with China, Japan and India is greater than that with the United States. None of the Asian powers present their relations with Israel as being conditional on the peace process with the Palestinians. The new nationalist Indian government is particularly favorable: it strengthens the security cooperation between the two countries, including the purchases of military technologies.
The former minister continues to list Israel’s new friends: Putin’s Russia, which takes the pains to coordinate its moves in Syria with Israel; Erdogan's Turkey, who desperately needs allies in the region and is interested in Israeli gas; Saudi Arabia, which maintains clandestine security contacts with Israel for the same reasons; the same with Sisi's Egypt and the Gulf states; Greece and Cyprus cultivate ties for their own reasons, as well as right-wing governments in Central and Eastern Europe.
This is good news. However, the less positive news in Ben-Ami's eyes are that Israel’s new partners do not share its view of the world; beyond that, the decline in the importance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lowers the chances that the Israeli government's position will be flexible and that a solution will be reached. Without an agreement, he writes, the oppression of the Palestinians will continue to seriously erode Israeli society in a deadly manner. "Israel has no reason to rejoice," he concludes.
What he does not write, at least not in this article, is that the change in Israel’s status coincided with a profound change in its scale of values. Israel is not longer the Western, liberal country fighting for its life that it was in 1948 and 1967 . Its strength is in its military and technological power and its economic and political stability. Its values are aggressive, nationalistic, and as illustrated by recent surveys, also loathing democracy and riddled with racism. The Chinese, who are roaming the world in search of knowledge, buying and stealing whatever they can get their hands on, are not bothered by this consideration. Nor are the Russian and Indian goverments. Their value system is the same.
The strengthening of Israel's position in the region is thanks to the American government and Iran. The Americans created a vacuum in their withdrawal. The Sunni regimes' turning to Israel are part of their efforts to fill their ranks. As long as the Iranians are fantasizing about the destruction of Israel, they can count on the Zionist heretics, the children of death: They will not betray.
But nothing lasts forever. The white regime in South Africa enjoyed its status as a stronghold of the West in Africa for a long time, against the Soviets' attempts at subversion. When the Soviet Union fell, the regime lost its world. Once the Sunni-Shiite war is over, our friends the Saudis will disappear. For them, Israel is an umbrella for a rainy day.
At the same time, we're losing the wall-to-wall support from American public opinion and its political system. The evangelicals will stay with us, as will the small minority of non-Haredi Orthodox Jews, and a few Jewish billionaires. The liberal camp in the US, including masses of young Jews, are not enchanted by what they see and hear about Israel. They move away. The same is true in Western Europe. This space is filled by BDS propaganda.
No wonder that the American administration does not enthusiastically welcome Israel's demand to increase the aid package. "If you're so close to the Chinese, Indians, Russians and Saudis, why do we need to add billions more in helping you with security?" the Americans are asking. "We have given enough already. Now contribute."
Perhaps the day will come when we ask ourselves if we did not sell our birthright for a bowl of lentils. Until then, we'll continue to have affairs with the most dubious and corrupt regimes in the world. This is what's called an Israeli success.