A View From Israel: Reaching Out
By ISRAEL KASNETT
Israel can contribute to every part of the world in one way or another.
Israel is an anomaly.
Thanks to years of immigration from all parts of
the world, Israel is one of the most multiracial, multicultural societies in
existence. As Abba Eban once wrote, there is a paradox and contradiction in
every part of the Israeli experience. Israel is both very old and very
Israel’s rich historical past gives it a dimension of association
and memory which few countries can emulate or contrive.
Of all the
countries in existence today, Israel is the only one that reveres the same
faith, speaks the same tongue and inhabits the same land as it did 3,000 years
At the opposite end of the time scale and in contrast to its
ancestral homeland title, Israel stands prominently representative of modernity.
It has placed itself at the forefront of medical research and technological
innovation. It is a world leader in the arts and culture and its political and
judicial institutions are testament to its healthy and vibrant democratic
nature. It is a country with qualities that set it apart from other nations and
Israel’s incredible rebirth has been and remains a fascinating
process, bringing together people and ideas from all corners of the earth to
share in the rebuilding of the Jewish state. Its culturally rich pool of
citizens has a deep understanding of its neighbors, their societies, languages
and ways of life.
This type of information is useful and can contribute
to the development of ties between Israel and countries around the globe. Israel
can use its past and present to formulate relationships with countries that have
seemingly few similarities.
IF, INDEED, Israel becomes more isolated due
to passive (or active) Arab aggression followed by European readiness to abandon
the Jewish state, it will become necessary to forge closer relationships with
countries heretofore ignored when it was deemed unnecessary to build ties with
Now is the time to forge those relationships.
not wait until it loses support from the West – and that day may come. Rather,
Israel must look to the East for additional support. Countries like China and
India offer great potential for Israel’s economic future and such a relationship
has diplomatic and political advantages as well.
Israel should initiate
and pursue relationships, no matter how discreet and minimal, with countries
such as Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Even countries like Afghanistan
and Pakistan may look one day to benefit from a discreet relationship with
Israel and we should be doing everything to lay the necessary groundwork to
facilitate this potential association.
It is not greatly far-fetched to
assume that economic ties with seemingly hostile countries could eventually
develop into deeper relationships. While seemingly unfathomable today, tomorrow
could bring a whole new set of political circumstances that would allow such
The discreet building of ties and laying the necessary
groundwork today could foster great results should the day arrive in the
Israel is a leading expert in many fields and can send
representatives through academic or social institutions as a way of developing
relationships, especially in countries where the Foreign Ministry cannot be
directly involved or visible. Academic institutions can certainly bridge the gap
in many countries with student exchange and study-abroad programs.
Israel’s establishment, successive governments have joined a number of
international frameworks intended to foster ties and development between
Israel joined the European Union’s Framework Programmes for
Research and Technological Development in 1994, and is a member of the European
Organization for Nuclear Research, the European Molecular Biology Organization
and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. It is also a member of the Bank
for International Settlement.
In 2010, Israel was invited to join the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Israel is also a member
of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue forum.
As the website of the Foreign
Ministry states, “relations between Israel and the countries of Central and
Eastern Europe, which were renewed as soon as these countries restored their
democracies, are becoming increasingly close, especially in economic matters,
culture, tourism, and international cooperation activities. Economic agreements
with these countries are of importance, given that many of them are members of
the European Union or candidates for future membership... Israel continues to
enhance its relations with Central Asian Caucasus states, where there is great
demand for Israeli MASHAV aid in the fields of public health, advanced
agriculture, water resource management and the fight against
These are universal issues on which Israel provides
extensive knowledge and expertise, and most nations would be willing to
formulate ties with Israel if they were given the opportunity – especially if it
can be done discreetly. We need only reach out to them.