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Why Netanyahu’s Trip to Latin America Matters

Sept. 14 2017

Today Benjamin Netanyahu concludes his stay in Argentina and flies to Colombia as part of the first-ever official visit by an Israeli prime minister to Latin America. Emmanuel Navon recounts the many ups and downs of the Jewish state’s relations with the region, and explains why improving these relations is important:

While most Latin American countries voted in favor of partition at the UN in 1947, their voting patterns at the General Assembly became unfavorable to Israel from the 1960s onward. In 1964, a voting bloc of Third World countries (known as the “Group of 77”) was formed at the General Assembly. Latin American countries were part of this bloc, which was very much influenced by its Arab and Muslim members. . . . [However], Latin America became the last bastion of Israel’s presence in the Third World after 1973: Israel was isolated from Africa, and it had no diplomatic relations with China and India. . . .

Except for Nicaragua after the 1979 Sandinista Revolution, all Central American countries, as well as Argentina, bought weapons from Israel. This was a win-win relationship since Latin America needed Israel’s weapons as much as Israel needed Latin America’s oil (especially after the 1979 Iranian revolution). Communist guerrillas [trying to overthrow these regimes] also happened to have close ties with the PLO and with anti-Western Arab leaders. The Sandinistas [who eventually seized power] in Nicaragua, for example, had been cooperating with the PLO since 1969, and they enjoyed the military and financial support of the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

In recent years, relations between Israel and Latin America have been overshadowed by the influence of Iran and Hizballah. On July 18, 1994, the Jewish community center of Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 85 people. It was revealed in October 2006 that Iran had ordered the bombing and that Hizballah had carried it out. . . . Hizballah’s presence in Latin America has since then been growing through the expansion of Iran’s diplomatic and intelligence missions, businesses, and investments. . . .

Argentina’s previous president, Cristina Kirchner, had developed strong ties with Iran. Her successor and political opponent, Mauricio Macri (elected in December 2015), has rectified Argentina’s foreign policy. He is well-disposed toward the West and toward Israel, and Netanyahu is right to build a personal relationship with him as well as with other like-minded Latin American leaders. The prime minister’s trip to Latin America is timely, and his diplomatic initiative praiseworthy.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Argentina, Benjamin Netanyahu, Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Latin America

Why Israeli Arabs Should Drop Their Political Parties

Sept. 20 2017

Even as Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy rights, freedoms, and economic opportunities unrivaled in the Arab world, their political leadership is more intent on undermining the Jewish state than on serving their actual interests. Moshe Arens, a former Israeli defense minister, comments. (Free registration may be required.)

[T]he Knesset members of the [Arab] Joint List have nothing but criticism for Israel and praise for its enemies, be they Iran, President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hizballah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, or Palestinian terrorists. . . . Although spanning the ideological spectrum from Communism (aside from the North Koreans, the only Communists still around), the Muslim Brotherhood (called the Islamic Movement in Israel), and Baathists (the Balad party), they are united in their hatred of Israel. Naturally, they do not call for Arab integration into Israeli society.

Those who oppose the polygamy rampant in the Arab community oppose Israeli measures to curb it. Those who are against the abuse of women and so-called honor killings think these are “local problems” that should be handled by the Arabs themselves. Nor do they want the Israel police to handle the crime running wild in Israel’s Arab towns. Keep Israel out of your lives, is their common motto. They oppose young Arabs volunteering for either military or civilian national service. . . .

Within Israel’s Arab community there is a struggle between those who insist on rejecting everything Israel stands for while supporting its enemies and those who want to integrate into Israeli society and take advantage of the opportunities it offers. . . . Can Israel’s Arabs become a beacon of democracy and modernity for the Arab world, or will they provide proof that Arabs are not yet prepared to enter the 21st century? . . .

[E]ach year, growing numbers of young Arabs volunteer for national service and join the ranks of Israel’s military and police. At the moment, the only way this trend can express itself politically is for these individuals to drop their support for the Joint List in favor of Israel’s existing political parties, and for these parties to welcome Arabs into their ranks.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Israeli politics, Joint List