Saturday, March 26, 2016

Cheers for Israeli diplomacy

Norman A. Bailey,

image (not from article) from

While Israel's public diplomacy is a disaster, its official diplomacy in the Arab world, Asia, Africa and Russia has scored notable successes.

The "Jerusalem Post's" March 4th Magazine Section's "Hot Off the Arab Press" feature contained an article which appeared in the February 27th issue of Al-Bayan, an Emirati publication. Among other very interesting things, the article stated the following:

"Much has been said and written in recent weeks about the governmental changes we made...--the appointment of a Minister of Happiness, Tolerance and the Future as well as a 22-year old Minister of Youth, both of whom are women. ... The events around us remind us, time and again, that tolerance is the key to development. ... For hundreds of years we have coexisted with Christians and Jews in the lands we came to inhabit."

This would have been surprising enough were it not for the fact that the article was written by none other than Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Emir of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates!

This extraordinary essay by the leader of one of the most important member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) points up a fundamental factor of Israeli strength that is strangely overlooked--Israeli diplomacy.

It is well known that the economic and financial situation Israel finds itself in is very good; truly excellent if compared to the great majority of the world's countries: good GDP growth, low inflation and unemployment, a budget surplus and much-needed export diversification from Europe and the US to south Asia and the Far East. In science and technology Israel, a tiny country of eight million people, is second only to the United States, ahead of such giants as the EU, Russia, China and India. A recent survey listed Israel eighth in the world in military strength and Israeli security and intelligence services are the envy of other countries. Psychologically, Israelis are among the happiest of the world's people, despite being located in its most dangerous and chaotic region, and suffering from a dysfunctional political system and serious social problems.

What has been overlooked are the serial triumphs of Israeli diplomacy in recent years. In saying this, a distinction must be made between diplomacy as such and public diplomacy (national public relations) which has been a dismal failure. On the official side, however, great strides have been made in relations with the Sunni Arab world, including the GCC countries, Jordan and Egypt, in ways both public and confidential. Relations with Asia and Africa have never been better and very skillful management of the relationship with Russia has resulted in cooperation with reference to air operations over Syria and the agreement on the part of the Russian government to cancel delivery of advanced anti-aircraft systems to Iran because of the fact that the Iranians were trying to transfer this equipment to Hezbollah. Even the leaders of Sudan and Turkey, after years of anti-Israel agitation, have recently indicated a desire to improve relations.

Israeli diplomacy is carried out by many ministries and agencies of the government, including of course the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but also by several other ministries, as well as by the IDF and the security and intelligence agencies. From top to bottom, the Israeli government and its permanent bureaucracy are to be congratulated. Many countries now look to Israel for agricultural, water management, health and medical assistance, as well as the defense, security and intelligence cooperation already mentioned. In boxing above its weight, Israel is unparalleled in the world. Those responsible are among the true heroes of the present.

Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Professor of Economics and National Security, The National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa, and Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft, The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC. He was formerly with the US National Security Council and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

No comments: