How Japan and Israel Can Strengthen Their Alliance, and Why They Should

Unlike so many other countries that were slow to engage diplomatically with the Jewish state, Tokyo established bilateral relations with Jerusalem in 1953. More recently, formal ties have blossomed into something of an alliance, based on factors that are growing ever more important: both are closely aligned with the U.S. and located in strategically sensitive areas; the thaw in Israel’s conflict with the Arab world means that Japan no longer need fear collaboration with Israel will endanger its access to fossil fuels; and the two countries have complementary economic interests. Abraham Cooper and Kinue Tokudome explain the barriers to even closer relations between these “two unique democracies,” how can they can be overcome, and why they should be:

A few months ago, we published an op-ed piece in Japan, calling for Japan’s boycott of the 20th anniversary of the anti-Israel Durban Conference. Disappointingly, Japan went on to attend this anniversary event of the hate-filled anti-Semitic conference, rather than joining 37 major countries, including all other G7 members, that boycotted it. . . . Japan also provides direct aid to the Palestinian Authority while failing to condemn openly its “martyrs’ fund,” which provides monthly stipends to Palestinians who commit acts of terrorism against Israel and to the families of deceased terrorists. [Moreover], Japan maintains a “historically friendly relationship” with Iran.

But the good news is that Japanese and Israeli joint business ventures are at an all-time high. Israel is no longer a distant unfamiliar place to Japan but a true partner in the economic sphere. With shared democratic values and tech-driven economies, there’s much to be gained by forming a strong alliance between the two countries, or even one including the U.S.

However, if Japan sincerely wants to form such an alliance, we believe the Japanese government must show that Japan indeed shares the same values as Israel and the U.S. Otherwise, it appears Japan only wants to gain economic advantage, while politically it continues to act in ways that directly threaten Israel’s very existence.

Finally, it is our belief that the two governments can work closely to deepen and to expand the Abraham Accords across the Arab/Muslim world and beyond. Such efforts will also advance Japan’s foremost diplomatic policy, “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”—given the traditionally close relations between Israel and Australia and the recently flourishing one between Israel and India.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel diplomacy, Japan

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism