A Century after the Balfour Declaration, Is the UK on Israel’s Side?

Britain’s Conservative prime minister Theresa May led her country in celebrating the centennial of the Balfour Declaration at a commemorative dinner in November, but Jeremy Corbyn, the notoriously hard-left and anti-Israel leader of the Labor party, declined to attend. Although Labor’s shadow foreign secretary did attend, she publicly asserted her disapproval of the occasion and said that the “most important way” for Britain to mark the anniversary would have been “to recognize Palestine.” Indeed, Simon Gordon writes, anti-Zionism has become an increasingly powerful force in British politics—especially, but not exclusively, on the left:

Less than a week after the Balfour centenary, a diplomatic scandal involving senior Israeli officials precipitated the resignation of Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel. One of the most outspoken supporters of Israel in the cabinet, Patel had [allegedly] been meeting Israeli ministers, including Benjamin Netanyahu, behind the foreign secretary’s back, while formally on vacation. . . . But the official version of events was soon called into question. The Jewish Chronicle, citing sources in Downing Street, reported that Patel’s unofficial diplomacy in Israel took place with the consent of the prime minister, who had asked her not to disclose the meetings. The truth of the matter remains unclear. But would a breach of diplomatic protocol involving another country have provoked the same response?

If this was the stance of a relatively Israel-friendly Tory government, what of Labor?

A win for Corbyn, the most left-wing Labor leader in more than 30 years, would radically reverse Britain’s approach to the Middle East. Nor has Labor changed its spots overnight. Since Tony Blair’s resignation in 2007—in part precipitated by his defense of Israel’s 2006 campaign in Lebanon—the party has continually moved to the left in both domestic and foreign policy. . . .

In contrast to [the Conservative former prime minister David] Cameron, [the former Labor leader Edward] Miliband condemned the IDF during Operation Protective Edge [in Gaza]. Two months later, he whipped Labor MPs to back a nonbinding parliamentary motion on the unilateral recognition of Palestine. Whether or not Corbyn makes it to 10 Downing Street, its next Labor occupant is likely to be far less friendly toward Israel than any prime minister since . . . the early 1970s.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Anti-Zionism, Balfour Declaration, Israel & Zionism, Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May, United Kingdom

 

What Israel Can Offer Africa

Last week, the Israeli analyst Yechiel Leiter addressed a group of scholars and diplomats gathered in Addis Ababa to discuss security issues facing the Horn of Africa. Herewith, some excerpts from his speech:

Since the advent of Zionism and the birth of modern Israel, there has been a strong ideological connection between Israel and the African continent. . . . For decades, [however], the notion that the absence of peace in the Middle East was due the absence of Palestinian statehood prevented a full and strategic partnership with African countries. . . . The visits to Africa by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—in 2016 to East Africa and in 2017 to West Africa—reenergized the natural partnership that was initiated by Israel’s Foreign Minister Golda Meir in the 1960s.

There is much we share, many places where our interests converge. And I don’t mean another military base in Djibouti. . . . One such area involves the safety of waterways in and around the Red Sea. Curtailing contraband, drugs, arms smuggling, and other forms of serious corruption are all vital for us. . . . But the one critical area of cooperation I’d like to put the spotlight on is in the realm of food security, or rather food insecurity.

Imagine Ethiopia’s cows producing 30 or 40 liters of milk a day instead of the two or three that they produce today. Imagine an exponential rise in (organic) meat exports to Middle Eastern and even European countries, the result of increased processing, storage, and transportation possibilities. Cows today can have a microscopic chip behind their ears that sends messages to the farmer’s computer or mobile phone that tracks what the cow ate, what its temperature is, and what care it might need. Imagine a dramatic expansion of the wheat yield that can make Ethiopia a net exporter of wheat—to Egypt, perhaps in the context of negotiations over the waters of the Nile.

Israel has proven technology in all of these agricultural areas and we’re here; we’re neighbors. We are linked to Africa, particularly the Horn of Africa, in so many ways.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Africa, Ethiopia, Israel diplomacy, Israeli agriculture, Israeli technology