Israel’s opening to China
The growing power of the UN-based international community is one of the gravest emerging threats to Israel’s national security.
This threat stems from two sources. First, the
UN-led system of global governance is working to redefine international law by on the one hand whitewashing war crimes by states associated with the majority, and on the other hand rendering it illegal for unpopular countries to take action to protect themselves against aggression. Second, and most important, Israel has become the scapegoat of the UN-led international community. The 57-member Islamic bloc has built an automatic majority for its unrelenting and ever-escalating assaults on Israel’s right to exist.
The new – and false – interpretation of international law gives every General Assembly resolution the weight of binding Security Council resolutions and international treaties. Among this new “legal” regime’s most dangerous features is its bid to overturn state sovereignty by subjecting leading citizens of weak states to politically-motivated criminal prosecutions under the rubric of universal jurisdiction.
With Israel’s right to exist – let alone to defend itself – being denied in an avalanche of General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions, the acceptance of universal jurisdiction is a short step away from turning every Jewish citizen of Israel into an international outlaw.
THIS ESCALATING threat is already hurting Israel’s ability to carry out routine relations with foreign countries. Just last week the IDF was compelled to cancel plans to send a delegation of its officers to England for a joint conference on asymmetric warfare after British authorities were unable to promise that their guests from the IDF wouldn’t be arrested over spurious war crimes allegations during their stay.
During her visit to Israel this week, British Attorney-General Patricia Scotland made clear that the British government is unwilling to cancel Britain’s universal jurisdiction law despite the fact that anti-Israel activists exploit the law to abuse Israeli officials visiting her country.
In her view, the most important thing is for Britain to maintain its commitment to universal jurisdiction. Any mitigation of the right of unaccountable, anti-Israel British judges to issue arrest warrants would, in her mind, water down this most precious of legalisms.
While Britain demonstrates that it prefers international legal conceit to both justice and its bilateral relations with Israel, senior Israeli jurists are making clear that they prefer to maintain their good reputations in places like London over defending the actual legal rights of their country.
On Monday, former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak announced that in his view, Israel should accept the jurisdiction of the inherently anti-Israel International Criminal Court. In his words, “Israel is part of the international community, and it must conduct itself in accordance with the interpretation that is common in international law.”
The fact that this “common interpretation” is common only when convenient and is actually antithetical to international law and to the rights of nations is of no interest to Barak. Also of no interest to Israel’s international legal superstar is the fact that the institution set to do the judging is politically stacked against Israel, and that the Islamic bloc-dominated “international community” redefined international law for the purposes of the ICC to make all Israeli communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines criminal.
Concerned not only about the anti-Israel likes of Richard Goldstone but also about the likes of “international community” obsessed Barak, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi this week ordered army commanders to integrate legal advisers in decision-making not only during the planning of battles, but also during battles themselves.
In an effort to offset some of the crushing pressure the UN-led international community is placing on Israel to stop defending itself, senior IDF officers have been dispatched to lobby US and UN officials. Unfortunately, it is hard to see how the IDF’s efforts to convince the UN or the US that it upholds international law will make any difference. The UN is a lost cause and under US President Barack Obama, America has been moving swiftly in the direction of Europe in accepting the authority of the UN as the linchpin of a morally-relativist, post-nationalist, philo-Islamic international system.
In his speech at the UN General Assembly in September, Obama renounced the US’s right to lead the international community when he proclaimed, “No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed.”
Obama’s decisions to try terrorists as criminal defendants; to close the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay; to join the UN Human Rights Council; and to open criminal investigations against US intelligence operatives all demonstrate that the US supports the expansion of the power of the UN-led international system against actual international law that views independent nation-states rather than the UN as the foundation of the international legal system.
America’s behavior towards the UN today should serve as a reminder to Israel that we mustn’t put all our diplomatic eggs in America’s basket. If we wish to neutralize the threat the UN-based international community poses to our national interests, we must expand our international alliances.
IN OUR efforts we have a potential ally in China. One of Beijing’s abiding positions is that it opposes UN sanctions on individual states. In the Chinese view, such sanctions diminish national rights to sovereignty. It is on the basis of this claim that China has justified opposing sanctions against rogue states like Iran and North Korea.
Israel should make the case to the Chinese that China should back Israel in international institutions, by among other things vetoing UN Security Council resolutions against Israel. If in defense of the principle of sovereignty China is willing to block sanctions against Iran and North Korea, then surely Beijing should be willing to take the far more benign step of supporting Israel.
China’s willingness to buck the US and Europe in refusing to support sanctions against international rogue states has expanded China’s international influence by making it a country that cannot be taken for granted. Likewise, were China to block international sanctions against Israel, it would become an influential player in the big power game in the Middle East. And whereas its support for Iran and North Korea potentially endangers China by empowering destabilizing actors, support for Israel would serve China’s interest of enhancing regional stability since a strong Israel deters regional aggressors from stirring up trouble.
Israel should back up its approach to China with a prolonged public diplomacy campaign to educate the Chinese about the Jewish state. A groundbreaking effort in this field is being initiated this week by StandWithUs, the US-based Israel-advocacy organization. This week, StandWithUs members from Israel will travel to Harbin, China, to present a photography exhibit called “Inside Israel.” Their goal is to educate the Chinese about Judaism, Israel’s history and life in Israel.
It is true that China does not share Israel’s democratic values. Owing to this, it may be difficult for Israel to sustain a bilateral alliance with China over time. However, China and Israel share the distinction of being the two oldest, continuous civilizations. This shared direct line to antiquity can form the basis of a strong bilateral relation
ship. It is already a source of Chinese attraction to the Jewish state.
ship. It is already a source of Chinese attraction to the Jewish state.
Over the past 15 years or so, Israel’s expanding trade ties with China have been a source of friction with the US. As the US turned a blind eye to Chinese theft of US military technologies at places like Los Alamos, New Mexico, American officials were quick to attack Israel for selling military technologies to Beijing. To placate Washington, Israel effectively ended its military sales to China in recent years. It is probably reasonable to continue this practice if only because there is a strong likelihood that China will sell Israel’s military technologies to the likes of Iran and Syria.
At any rate, it is not anti-American for Israel to cultivate closer ties to China. As America’s alliances with Israel and Saudi Arabia and its courtship of Iran and Syria show, international affairs are not and should not be monogamous. This has never been more apparent than now. The Obama administration’s moves to subordinate US foreign policy to the UN-based international community make it less clear that Israel can rely on the White House to veto anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council.
It is fortuitous that this time, when Israel’s need to diversify its international affairs has become acute, that the foreign minister is not a Shimon Peres-type who believes that Israel’s ability to achieve its national interest is a function of the number of European cocktail parties he attends. Whatever Avigdor Lieberman’s drawbacks may be, they clearly don’t include excessive worship of the international community’s taste for opulent statecraft or a desperate desire to be loved by Europe.
From his first moments on the job, as the Obama administration subordinated the US’s joint interests with Israel to the president’s dream of establishing a Palestinian state by 2011, Lieberman moved quickly to diversify Israel’s international ties. Noting that his predecessors harmed Israel by behaving as though our international relations began and ended with negotiations with the Palestinians, Lieberman turned his attention to the great world they ignored.
In September, Lieberman travelled to Africa. There he bolstered Israel’s strategic ties with potential allies in Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria. In July, he went to South America with the declared goal of blunting Iran’s influence in the continent. In at least one of the countries he visited – Colombia – great potential exists for a strategic alliance.
On Tuesday, Lieberman reached out to the Balkans. During a meeting with visiting Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, he noted that the forces of global jihad are making a concerted effort to penetrate the Balkans through the Albanian and Bosnian Muslim communities. This encroaching threat should induce states like Macedonia to enhance their relations with Israel.
Lieberman should seek a diplomatic opening to China just as he has reached out to states in Africa, South America and the Balkans, as well as to Russia. With its Security Council veto, China would be a major asset to Israel in its bid to neutralize the UN-centered international community’s campaign to delegitimize its right to exist.
By supporting Israel, Beijing stands to lose nothing and gain a great deal. Just as China’s support for Iran has not harmed its trade ties – and its burgeoning military ties – with the likes of Saudi Arabia, so its support for Israel will likely have no impact on its ties in the Arab world. More important for China, its support for Israel would enhance its ability to challenge the UN-besotted Obama White House in the great power game.
Ironically, to the extent that by supporting Israel China secures the rights of nation-states threatened by the rapidly expanding UN colossus, China will become a pivotal defender of embattled democracies on the world stage.
Originally published in the Jerusalem Post.