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May 9, 2016 7:21 am

Israel at 68: Are We Isolated?

avatar by Yoram Ettinger

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Judea and Samaria. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Judea and Samaria. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Secretary of State John Kerry and other Western policy-makers — joined by the “elite” Western media — contend that 68 year-old Israel is increasingly isolated due to its defiance of global pressure to evacuate the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, which tower over Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport and 80% of Israel’s population, transportation, technological and business infrastructure.

Since 1948, global pressure on Israel to commit itself to dramatic concessions has been a fixture of Israel’s foreign policy and public diplomacy, accompanied by warnings that Israel was dooming itself to painful isolation.  An examination of Israel’s global position – economically, militarily and diplomatically – documents that irrespective of Israel’s uphill diplomatic challenges, these warnings crashed on the rocks of reality, and resoundingly refuted by an unprecedented integration of Israel with the global street.

Thus, side-by-side with the rough diplomatic talk which has always pounded Israel, there has been an increasingly mutually-beneficial, geo-strategic walk. This is highlighted by Israel’s unprecedented civilian and military integration with the international community, in response to growing international demand for Israel’s military, economic, technological, scientific, medical, pharmaceutical and agricultural cutting-edge innovations.

Israel’s increasingly global integration is reflected by a series of developments in the last few weeks, which are consistent with Israel’s well-documented 68-year-old track record on the global scene.

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For example, notwithstanding Europe’s support of the Palestinian Authority and harsh criticism of Israel, NATO does not subscribe to the “isolate Israel” theory, follows its own order of geo-strategic priorities, and therefore refuses to cut off its nose to spite its face. Hence, on May 3, 2016, NATO significantly upgraded its ties with Israel, inviting Jerusalem to establish a permanent mission at their Brussels headquarters. This upgrade will expand the surging, mutually-beneficial Israel-NATO cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism, intelligence, battle tactics, non-conventional warfare, science, cyber and space technologies and defense industries, where Israel possesses a unique competitive edge.

While Turkey’s President, Erdogan, has blasted Israel brutally on the diplomatic field, Turkey did not block the recent agreement between NATO and Israel. Moreover, the Israel-Turkey balance of trade has catapulted from $2.5 BN in 2009 to over $5 BN in 2015. Turkey has not ignored the unique niches of Israel’s exports in the area of defense, medicine, pharmaceuticals and agriculture.

India, the seventh largest – and one of the fastest rising — economies in the world, has become one of Israel’s closest partners, second only to the US, in the areas of defense, counter-terrorism, intelligence, manufacturing, agriculture, irrigation, information technologies, space, etc. Oblivious of the “isolate Israel” school of thought, India has become the largest customer for Israel’s defense systems, with Israel trailing only the US and Russia in terms of military sales to India. On March 29, 2016, Israel’s Rafael Advance Defense Systems concluded a long-term agreement with India’s $15 BN Reliance Defense Systems, which is expected to produce $10 BN in sales. A year and a half ago, Rafael won a $500 MN contract for the supply of missiles to India’s ground forces.

Aiming to leverage the momentum-gaining “integrate Israel” trend, China’s $10 BN Kuang-Chi technology conglomerate is launching an Israel-based international innovation Chinese fund to invest in early, to mid-stage Israeli and global companies, reflecting the vigorous Chinese interest in mature and start-up Israeli companies. Chinese investments in Israeli companies expanded from $70 MN in 2010 to $2.7 BN in 2015, while the China-Israel trade balance surged from $30 MN in 1992 to $11 BN in 2015. The trade balance could have been dramatically larger, but for Israel’s cautious attitude, in light of China’s close ties with Israel’s enemies. China has followed in the footsteps of the Hong-Kong-based tycoon, Li Ka-Shing, whose venture capital fund, Horizons Ventures, invested in 30 Israeli companies, accounting for almost half of its portfolio.

The 250 global high-tech giants, which established research and development centers in Israel, expose the isolation of “Israel’s isolators” from the real world. For instance, on February 22, 2016, Oracle ($156 BN, 136,000 employees) – which operates four centers in Israel – acquired Israel’s five-year-old Ravello for $500 MN, its fifth Israeli acquisition. On March 3, 2016, Cisco Systems ($135 BN, 72,000 employees) acquired its 12th Israeli company, Leaba Semiconductor, for $350 MN.  On March 10, 2016, Intel($144 MN, 100,000 employees, 10,000 of them in Israel) acquired its 9th Israeli company, Replay Technologies, for $175 MN. In 2015, Intel – which is currently investing $130 MN in a new center in Israel — exported $4.1 BN from its manufacturing plant in Israel. Some 60 Israeli start-ups are included in the portfolio of Intel Capital. In 2015, global pharmaceutical giants – such as MSD, Bayer, Astrazeneca, Novartis, Pfizer, Abbvie, Janssencilag, Roche, Merck and Eli Lilly – invested $150 MN (compared to $130 MN in 2014 and $100 MN in 2012) in ground-breaking, medical research, conducted in leading Israeli hospitals.

Leading investment funds have been veteran supporters of the “integrate Israel” school-of-thought. For instance, the Silicon Valley (Menlo Park)-based Lightspeed raised $1.2 BN for its 11th fund dedicated to US and Israeli start-ups. The Israeli investment funds, FIMI, Vertex Ventures and Israel Secondary Fund-2 raised – mostly from overseas investors — $1.1 BN, $150 MN and $100 MN respectively.

Reaffirming the “integrate Israel” reality, Fitch Ratings — one of the three credit-rating organizations designated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – upgraded Israel’s credit rating outlook from “stable” to “positive,” while retaining its “A” rating. The upgrade generates a robust tailwind to foreign investments in – and foreign trade with – Israel. In April, 2016, when all advanced economies are struggling, Fitch Ratings lauds Israel’s thriving economy in comparison to other OECD countries. Fitch commends Israel for its success in overcoming intense national security and homeland security challenges; reducing the ratio of government debt to GDP from 95.2% in 2000 to 64.9% in December 2015; reducing the budget deficit to 2.1%, the lowest figure since 2008; bolstering foreign exchange reserves to $90.6 BN; and sustaining the strength of the shekel.

At 68, Israel is highly integrated into the key global disciplines, in defiance of Secretary of State John Kerry’s warning that “if we do not resolve the issues between Palestinians and Israelis, there will be an increasing isolation of Israel.” The Secretary’s warning is overwhelmingly squelched by global reality, defies 71% of the US public, which considers Israel favorably according to the February, 2016 annual Gallup Poll, and is inconsistent with the US Congress’ systematic and massive support of Israel.

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

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  • Pearl

    The only one isolated is Kerry, from his brains! I’m sure his Jewish grandparents are spinning in their graves! He’s such a loser. He simply blows hot air!

  • dov

    With the kind of isolation Israel currently has, I am sure many countries wish for themselves the same ‘isolation’.

    Its pretty good to be isolated from countries that hate Isreal.

  • H.Givon

    Sec’y of State Kerry has repeatedly threatened Israel with isolation should its government not return to the ‘peace process’ and be willing to make dangerous concessions to the Palestinian Arabs. It is obvious that this is a ploy to intimidate Israel without considering its several failed efforts in the past or the ramifications of creating yet another hostile state in the Middle East. Yoram Ettinger has deflated Kerry’s strategy in his eloquent listing of Israel’s considerable achievements and their positive results in developing many new relationships with other countries – even some that are not among Israel’s closest friends. Ettinger is quite well-informed and it is his factual assessment that is obviously the realistic one.

  • Wm. J. Levy

    What a schmuck Kerry is and worse now that we know he was originally a Jew.

    Was Israel isolated in 1948 and in 1967 when she had none of the occupied territories?

    Who started all the wars that Israel had to fight>

    1948
    1956
    1967
    After 1967
    1973
    Gaza War 1
    Gaza War 2

    Not even counting the invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

    John Kerry and your $1,500 haircut I wish you the curse of the anti-Jew and you know what happens to them.

    • Eli

      William, or Bill, if you like, is it not unsurprising that Kerry, as a former or even a present Jew, would stab Israel in the back? I’m constantly dismayed or worse, and still surprised by the number of American Jews, being Jewish myself, who would turn on Israel and their own heritage, so Kerry’s attitude is not surprising. btw, you neglected to mention the 1978 war in Lebanon which kept Israeli forces in southern Lebanon up to the Litani River for quite a while, as a “security buffer” against Hezbollah and the PLO.

  • Michael David Collins-Frias

    Isolation of Israel, sorry no. Israel can neither remove from mountains of Judea as I can not remove my duty from being high king of Judea & Samaria, these are my mountains, Israel will not remove from these lands which belong to me. My mineral rights are Israel rights and owed to Israel. Debts owed to me are owed to Israel, I will never see a penny but am owed much. My account held as Reseve funds which basically means unless I am recognized, the money belongs to Israel however I am not recognized. His Majesty Philip Edward Jehle Romanov my great grandfather never witnessed creation of Israel, I was born 1968. My life have never known heritage of Israel. I accept never to know, but I will be damned if Israel is removed from my mountains of Judea & Samaria! I own them! I want to die in my mountains after I am dead scatter my ashes on them. I ask to be cremated upon death and scatter my ashes onto the mountains of Judea & Samaria, the kingdom I will never know but owns my heart and sole.

  • Bonnie Hausman

    Hamas is still tunneling (with Iranian money). Maybe Kerry would like Israel to surrender the low ground too.

  • Bonnie Hausman

    Hamas is still tunneling (with Iranian money). Maybe Kerry would like Israel to surrender the liw ground too.

  • Ani

    I think that Israel needs to continue to do what is right for Israel and stop worrying so much about what critics in the US and Europe have to say. Europe is and will be experiencing its own upheavals, discord and travails, due in part to its short-sighted embrace of Muslims. The US is less and less a super-power on the world scene. Who cares really what Kerry has to say about anything?

    Israel should continue to reach out to countries that really aren’t going to get involved in the whole “who’s occupying who” scene such as India and China among others. And truly, Judea and Samaria are not “occupied territories”; they were and are part of the land that was given to the Jews. Same with the Golan Heights. What has returning Gaza ever gotten Israel but heartache and war?

  • Mbwana Kivava

    72% of US opinions represents the whole wide world?

  • FJP

    If the high ground was surrendered. It would be up to the USA to attack the nation responsible for any violation, be it insurgent activity, rocket attack or any other act of aggression. The USA would declare all out war. Boots on the grounds. With a good supply of body bags. I look forward to the November election in the USA. Donald Trump is the wild card the USA needs. The world needs more like Trump. The USA has been impotent for close to 8 years, a wordsmith by another name.

  • BARBARA SHABO

    John Kerry is missing the part of his brain that is responsible for common sense. The man is an unprecedented fool.

  • Linda

    Israel is an intellectual giant and contributes from her tiny country to making life better for the entire world.

  • Mike

    My thinking is that Bibi, who is no idiot, is just trying to keep things in a holding pattern until Obama is gone, because he’s an unpredictible quantity.

    I notice more and more generalised support for Israel here in Canada.

    Would you like to know who I hear the most Israeli-supportive things from these days? ARABS. Granted, mostly Christian Arabs, but occasionally Muslim ones, too. Seeing what the rest of the Middle East looks like, many are starting to come to have sympathy for Israelis. I’m not saying that it’s a common orientation, and we’re talking about a group of self-selected middle-class emigrants from the Arab world, but STILL… that was NOT the case even 5 years ago.

  • Anybody with a brain knows that you gotta keep the high ground to protect yourself. As a former military guy Kerry should recognize that. Kerry and his people are very stupid. Any Plebe from West Point knows you gotta keep he high ground. I guess Kerry wants Israel to commit suicide. He is a dummy.

  • Negotiating with Hamas is like negotiating with a rabid pit bull. Gotta destroy the pit bull. It is what it is. Kerry is a naive guy.

  • Kerry does not know his ass from his elbow.

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