In the midst of the wringing of hands and the autopsy of how wrong the Obama administration was about the Israeli election, one huge issue is staring us in the face and we ignore it at our peril.
Israel has options. She doesn’t have to bend at the knee because President Obama is upset and is giving the world a view of how he acts when having a tantrum.
The headlines are screaming right now. “US MAY ‘DUMP’ ISRAEL AT UN, INTERNATIONAL FORUMS” and “OBAMA VOWS TO REASSESS ISRAEL TIES”.
Last Summer I joined Senator Rick Santorum as he led a delegation to Israel. They stayed for 48 hours. I stayed the whole week and broadcast my show from Jerusalem every day I was there.
Despite everything we experienced including taking cover in a stairwell as the rockets were flying; despite everything we saw including Iron Dome and Gaza; despite every emotional moment including meeting the parents of Gilad Shaar - one of the three Israeli teens who were slaughtered and which led to the last round of fighting; and, despite everything we heard including briefings from Generals, the Prime Minister’s Office and a very senior adviser to Netanyahu, there was one thing that stuck out in my mind.
As I already pointed out, Santorum and his group left after around 48 hours in the country. After I said goodbye to them in the lobby of our hotel, something happened within three minutes of their vehicle leaving the parking lot.
Hotel staff moved quickly and efficiently. The Israeli Flag and the Stars and Stripes had stood side-by-side for the duration of the delegation’s visit. But as soon as Santorum and his group left, our flag was removed too and replaced with the Chinese one. The picture is one I personally took.
Before I could find someone to ask about this, two bus loads of Chinese Government officials pulled up and out poured somewhere between 50 and 75 people for their delegation.
It is no secret that China has been courting Israel for some time now. At the end of last year - December the 30th to be exact - China announced an initiative to establish a free trade agreement with the Jewish State.
And China is always very pragmatic. What can the Palestinians offer? Not much. The exports of furniture and Olive Oil which Israel could produce as well, are really not something China needs. Israeli consumers can afford Chinese imports and most importantly of all, China wants Israeli technology and expertise.
What does Israel want? A powerful friend. A country who is a friend and has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. A friend who will stand up for Israel in the face of anti-semitism spreading across the globe and Islamic Extremist terrorism.
Israel wants that friend to be the United States. The nation of Israel was founded using the principles of the founding of the USA. But if America abandons her one true ally in the region, she will leave the Israelis little choice.
There are certainly parts of the China relationship that Israelis are already enjoying. In 2013, Israel’s then Minister of Economy, Naftali Bennet, went on an official trip to China. When he returned he was excited. “In all the 20 meetings we held, not once were we asked about the Arabs, or about the Palestinians, or about any occupation or anything else. All [the Chinese] care about is Israeli high-tech, Israeli innovations, how we can bring these technologies here.”
Israel is also aware of the ties Beijing has with Iran. Some in Israel are concerned by this, while others point out that China is in fact the only power on the planet that has good relations with both Iran and Israel.
Again - China is pragmatic. There will never be boycotts of Israel or Israeli goods while China wants high end technology and expertise. There will not be public criticism of Jerusalem while the Israelis teach the Chinese how they made the desert bloom.
So this brings us full circle. China is already Israel’s leading trading partner in Asia and with the “Free Trade” announcement at the end of last year, that relationship can be expected to grow stronger.
Israel is a natural ally of the United States. Our values are their values; the intelligence we receive from the Israelis is incalculable; the technology exchanges and advances are spectacular. Israel does not want to hit the button marked “The China Option.” But I can now see circumstances where she might be forced to do so.