Seated with friends around the dinner table recently, the discussion turned to the world in which we find ourselves today, evoking trepidation as to how tomorrow might evolve for our children and grandchildren.
For sure, we are witnessing a dramatic change in the world order. There was a time when the strong leadership of the West was in the safe and capable hands of the United States. Frighteningly, today, we are witnessing a weakening of the West, which is being taken advantage of by its enemies at both military and economic levels.
Colonial Richard Kemp CBE was recently interviewed on I24 News. Kemp served in the British Army for 29 years, where he chaired the COBRA Intelligence Group, handling major terrorist attacks. In 2003, based in Kabul, Afghanistan, he commanded British Forces in charge of Operation Fingal.
Kemp noted the ease with which the Taliban took over Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US troops; he firmly believes the US’s non-reaction to the return of the Taliban was a green light for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia and its invasion of Ukraine
Readers of my column will know of my disappointment, specifically in the first months of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the manner in which the West believed it was helping Ukraine. The prime area in which Ukraine requires help is in being able to prevent Russia’s constant missile bombardment. For all the sanctions and warm words spoken by the US and Europe, they remain inadequate substitutes for the appropriate arms help, both defensive and offensive, desperately needed by Ukraine even up until today.
Iran, Hezbollah and its ties with Russia
Russia is cozying up to Iran at varied levels. Currently, it is negotiating for the supply of Iranian weapon-carrying drones, with its military undergoing training in the use of these drones, most likely, to be activated against Ukraine.
The US’s former national security advisor John Bolton recently threatened with assassination by Iran, questions whether the US, endeavoring to reach a renewal of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, can trust the Iranian leadership at a time when its Revolutionary Guard is planning to murder US leaders. The same Iranian leaders praised the attempted assassination of American-based Salman Rushdie who, while having survived, will remain with life-changing injuries.
According to Iran, the nuclear agreement is on the verge of being signed; this in spite of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s disquiet as to the shutting down of 27 of its monitoring cameras and Tehran’s preventing the IAEA from investigating traces of nuclear material found at undisclosed sites.
Iran continues to threaten Israel with annihilation, while praising its proxy, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, for its attacks on Israel.
Iran supports the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, whose leader, Hassan Nasrallah, is threatening Israel, should it commence gas extractions at the Karish rig in September. This is in spite of negotiations nearing an agreement between Israel and Lebanon over their Maritime border dispute. Nasrallah warns Israel, “Don’t make mistakes with Lebanon or the people of Lebanon. Any arm that tries to reach out for any of the Lebanese wealth will be cut off.”
“Don’t make mistakes with Lebanon or the people of Lebanon. Any arm that tries to reach out for any of the Lebanese wealth will be cut off.”Hassan Nasrallah
China makes economic inroads to the West
Economically, how concerned should the West be at China’s inroads into the Western world? Space limitation does not permit me to address, in detail, the ever-increasing Chinese ownership of American companies. 97% of the US’s antibiotics emanate from China, as do 80% of all active ingredients in American pharmaceuticals. Some 200,000 acres of American farmland are owned by the People’s Republic of China, which also owns more residential real estate in the US than any other foreign country.
How does Israel fit into the equation?
Aside from its major investment in Israel’s technology sector, China owns Israel’s largest dairy producer, Tnuva; has a 25-year contract to manage three of our four ports – Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat; and has won contracts to supply buses to Israel. What should be of particular concern is that these Chinese companies are government owned with government subsidies enabling the companies to offer tenders well below others, including Israeli bidders.
Observing the strengthening of military and economic ties between Iran, China and Russia should be a prime concern for the West, but is it?
Back to the beginning, where the guests around the dinner table asked what kind of world will we leave to the generations that follow – a question, no doubt, asked by our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
Our forebearers fled Poland and Russia because of the pogroms. The 1930s brought Hitler to power. Could anyone have imagined that six million Jews, including two million children, would be murdered in an unimaginably systematic, brutal manner? It remains beyond a normal person’s comprehension that Germany, a country of culture and home to composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Mendelssohn, perpetrated the Holocaust.
While antisemitism, the longest hatred, has not disappeared, what was denied to our forbearers for 2,000 years is no longer denied to us. We are the generation living at a period in history where there is Israel, which knows for all the valued financial aid it receives from the US, it can only rely on itself for defensive purposes.
As we approach the New Year, a year in which we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the rebirth of our beloved state, we take comfort in the knowledge that Israel has known since its inception that it has to be ready to defend itself, by itself alone. And the good news is, that we can. Shana tova. ■
The writer is the chairperson of Israel, Britain and the Commonwealth Association (IBCA). In a former life, she chaired major Zionist organizations in the UK. The views expressed are hers alone.