Explaining China’s Turn against Israel

Using phrases that seem more characteristic of West European governments, the Chinese foreign minister and other officials stridently condemned Israel during its most recent round of fighting with Hamas. Some diplomats even made anti-Semitic comments about sinister Jewish influence. As Beijing has never even made a show of prioritizing human rights in its foreign policy, and has robust economic ties with the Jewish state, this hostility came as a surprise. Ilan Berman and Joshua Eisenman seek to explain this about-face:

Part of the answer can be found in China’s increasingly desperate efforts to shift the international conversation away from its ongoing genocide against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. By supporting the plight of the Palestinians, China is cynically stoking the most emotional issue in Middle Eastern politics in order to distract Muslim nations from its own domestic campaign to “break the lineage and roots” of Chinese Muslims via an extensive system of gulags.

At the same time, Beijing’s expanding investments throughout the Middle East in recent years (in arenas ranging from Lebanon’s telecom sector to assorted infrastructure projects in Egypt) have effectively bought the silence of Muslim governments when it comes to Chinese human-rights abuses. [And] China’s sprawling 25-year strategic pact with Iran is the centerpiece of its Mideast strategy.

China’s response to Israel’s recent conflict with Hamas should serve as a wake-up call for policymakers in Jerusalem. It highlights the fact that, despite its extensive financial stake, . . . there are real limits to China’s alignment with Israel. Indeed, the Israeli government’s recent backing of a Canadian-sponsored UN resolution on the Xinjiang genocide suggests that a rethink on China policy may already be under way.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Guardian of the Walls, Iran, Israel-China relations, Uighurs

How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy