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

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter