by Jonathan Adelman and Asaf
from Forbes Website
talks to China's Premier Li Keqiang
during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People
on May 8, 2013 in Beijing, China.
(Image credit: Getty Images
Rarely do we think about Israel and Asia, even less about Asia as Israel’s new frontier.
We don’t think of Asia as playing any
significant role in Israel’s evolution given the tiny Asian Jewish
population, the lack of significant Jewish history in Asia, and minimal
relations between Israel and most Asian countries for the first 40 years
(1948-1988) of Israel’s existence.
Many factors propelled Israel-Asian relations to
the forefront. Historically, Asia largely lacks the anti-Semitism that was
so prominent in Europe and also the Middle East. Geographically, Israel is
in West Asia, only four hours by air from India and 11 hours by air from
China. Historically, Israel, like most Asian states, is a new state born
after World War II after a struggle with a Western colonial power, in this
case Great Britain.
Politically, the growing threat of Islamism in the regime draws many of these countries towards a country that is in the forefront of fighting this threat to governments around the world.
And, militarily, the Israeli military, a world leader in anti-missile technology (Iron Dome), UAVs (which they sell even to the Russians) and 5 billion dollars of military exports, is attractive to Asian countries developing their own militaries as they rise economically.
Finally, in intelligence matters, which are so
critical to many developing countries, Mossad, with its strong human
intelligence capabilities, is attractive for helping these countries
overcome foreign threats to their rise to power.
In turn India in 2004 launched a 300 kilogram Israeli satellite in orbit which dramatically increased Israeli intelligence gathering capabilities against the Iranian nuclear program with clear images in all kinds of weather. At one time in the ‘90s Israel was the second biggest arms exporter to China (4 billion dollars worth of exports).
In turn Israeli intelligence works closely with
Indian intelligence against radical Islamic threats and is on friendly terms
with its Chinese counterparts.
Back to India, Israel is working with it on the
framework for a Free Trade Zone that within five years could triple annual
exchange between producers in each country to $15 billion. Politically,
Israel supports India in its fight over Kashmir and against Pakistan, while
China also battles Islamic fundamentalism in Xinjiang Province.
Israel has developed strong relations too with a
series of newly independent states formerly part of the Soviet Union,
including Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
As Chinese Ambassador to Israel Gao Yanping stated ahead of the visit,
Truly Asia is the new frontier for Israel in the 21st century.