Moving Israel from Europe to Asia

As more and more West European Jews make aliya, western Europe’s tech industries will take comparable hits.

French Jews in Tel Aviv commemorate victims of Paris terror attacks  (photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)
French Jews in Tel Aviv commemorate victims of Paris terror attacks
(photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)
Israel feels a deep connection to Europe, but should remember that its affection for Europe has a lot in common with Stockholm Syndrome. Israel considers itself part of the Western cultural tradition, and of course it is; along with Greece, it is the birthplace of the Western cultural tradition. Israel should remember that it is much less a product of European culture than Europe is a product of Israeli and Judean culture.
After the Second World War, Western Europe was temporarily sympathetic to Israel out of guilt; in the ‘70s, it mostly shifted its sympathies to the Arabs, because its guilt was outweighed by its desire to ensure a steady supply of oil. Gradually, Europe’s leaders’ desire for oil was supplanted by their desire for Muslim votes.
Who can blame them? That’s how democracy works. But no concession Israel makes will win the approval of Europe’s multitude of radical Muslim voters – so no concession Israel makes will win the general approval of Europe’s politicians. Such is European realpolitik. So Israel should stop trying.
And forget sucking up to European’s affected concern for Palestinian statehood. Israel should switch its diplomatic focus to Asia.
Asia’s support for the Palestinians began as a matter of non-alignment, and Asia retains some non-alignment momentum.
Now, with the Soviet Union gone, “globalization” on the rise and a host of rapidly industrializing economies, Asia – like 1970s Europe – supports Palestinian interests chiefly to guarantee oil supplies. But Asian reliance on Arab oil is diminishing, as American and Canadian oil extraction is boosted by hydraulic fracturing techniques – “fracking” – which allow the tapping of hitherto untapped, and massive, North American petroleum reserves. Canada is already a major oil exporter; four years from now the United States will be exporting as much oil as Kuwait. Combined with Russian supplies, this will make Arab exporters much less willing to withhold energy exports for political purposes: you can’t assert a monopoly without a monopoly to assert.
And unlike Europe, east Asian governments (aside from Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei) aren’t greatly influenced by their Muslim populations. In the oriental democracies, there are few Muslim voters; in the dictatorships there are no voters, Muslim or otherwise. Bangladesh is a Muslim country which doesn’t recognize Israel – but in India, (pro-Israel) Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata party has shown that you can win India-wide elections with limited Muslim support.
ISRAEL IS a technology giant, and one of the world’s top technology exporters.
As the power of Arab and Persian oil is diminished, the relative geopolitical power of Israeli technology will increase. Every country in Asia needs technology that Israel can provide. As global tech competitiveness becomes a necessity for developing countries, the benefits of closeness to Israel will outweigh closeness to Arabs via the Palestinian Authority. (Leviathan gas joining the market will just be a bonus.) Israel should cultivate its Asian alliances along these lines; to begin with, Israel should make support in the UN a condition for large foreign-government contracts, along with recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It should also begin floating the idea of Asian countries recognizing a prospective annexation of Area C.
As regards the old countries: Israel should keep in mind that, in the long run, Europe will need Israel more than Israel needs Europe. Eastern and Central Europe’s scientific establishments were decimated by the ‘30s’ Jewish exodus; it was largely Hungarian, Polish, German Jews who were responsible for splitting the atom and inventing the computer – but they made their ultimate breakthroughs in the United States.
As more and more West European Jews make aliya, western Europe’s tech industries will take comparable hits.
It also bears mentioning that, like east Asian dictatorships, west Asian Arab dictatorships don’t have to worry about the views of voters, short of revolution-level offenses. And in the long run, they too will have to weigh Palestinian sympathy against Israeli technology (only Iran is whole-heartedly invested in the ideological side of things). But that’s a few steps down the road.
The author is a columnist for National Review Online, and has written about international relations for publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard.