Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has just returned from a highly successful trip to Singapore and Australia and is on his way to Moscow to consult with Russian president Vladimir Putin about mutual interests. Under his guidance Israel has strengthened relations with Asia/Pacific, Africa and Latin America and is outflanking the Israel-phobic countries of continental Europe by also improving relations with the UK. Sub-rosa collaboration with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states continues to burgeon.
So far so very good. Economic activity is booming and Israel's financial situation has never been stronger. Export of natural gas is set to begin and that bonanza is likely to continue to grow for the foreseeable future, now that exploitation of the Leviathan field has been announced. The strength of the shekel in the face of central bank sales may be creating problems for Israeli exporters but it is a faithful indication of the market's view of Israeli prospects
But a dark cloud is beginning to form on Israel's western flank. For a long time it looked as if the US, still the most important foreign relationship Israel has, would avoid the new wave of antisemitism afflicting Europe. But no longer. Anti-semitic activity has begun and has grown rapidly, with the spread of the BDS movement in universities and professional associations, threats to Jewish centers in many cities and desecration of Jewish cemeteries.
The reaction of the Trump administration, which was supposed to initiate a new era of Israeli-US relations, has been remarkably tepid, with the exception of Vice President Mike Pence. Even more disappointing has been the feeble response of most of the American Jewish organizations, with a few exceptions, such as the ADL. Thus a dilemma is being created for the government in Jerusalem (which according to the new secretary of defense is not located in the capital of Israel, which is Tel Aviv). Initial euphoria about the Trump administration is beginning to appear greatly exaggerated.
The American embassy is obviously not about to be moved to Jerusalem and warnings about building in the West Bank are becoming harsher and beginning to sound like previous governments in Washington.
Support for Israel in Congress has not weakened, at least so far, but that is the end of the good news. Action needs to be taken, quickly and strongly, by the Israeli government to encourage and collaborate with pro-Israeli forces in the US, including evangelical Christian groups, to ensure that antisemitic activities are denounced in the strongest terms and counter-actions undertaken. Support in state and municipal governments needs to be mobilized. Finally, the large group of American Jews who are indifferent to Israel need to understand that their love-affair with the "progressive" elements of the American left is encouraging and validating all kinds of dangerous activities which will boomerang against them sooner rather than later.
There is no room for complacency. The time for decisive action is now, before the ripples of antisemitism in the US become a tidal wave.
Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Professor of Economics and National Security, The National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa, and Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft, The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC. He was formerly with the US National Security Council and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 7, 2017
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