Keeping Old Friends and Reaching Out to New Ones

By November 25, 2016

By Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman

In the November issue in Mosaic Magazine, Arthur Herman of the Hudson Institute penned an essay entitled Everybody Loves Israel, in which he chronicled Israel’s resurgent foreign relations. Israel isn’t isolated, he argued, echoing Prof. Efraim Inbar’s famous 2013 study, Israel is Not Isolated.

This week, the BESA Center’s Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman published a response to Herman. Dr. Lerman was Israel’s deputy national security adviser for foreign affairs for six years prior to joining the BESA Center, so he is well placed to comment on this matter.

Dr. Lerman’s article, For Israel, the Task is to Work Even Harder to Keep Old Friends and Reach Out to New Ones, affirms that Israel’s continued success in global affairs will disprove the deluded claim that the Jewish state is isolated in the world. It’s also the right strategy, he says, and a deliberate and systematic one.

At the same time, Lerman emphasizes that none of Israel’s achievements in fashioning new partnerships on the world stage can or should in any way reduce the importance – “the absolute centrality” – of the US-Israel bond. “For the foreseeable future, Israel’s security and diplomatic support must continue to come from Washington. Whoever is in the White House, nothing is more important to Israel’s survival and prosperity than the bipartisan commitment of the world’s greatest power, which also happens to be the home of the world’s second-largest Jewish community. We Israelis must constantly be on our guard to nurture and sustain that commitment, and never take it for granted.”

Lerman adds that “for all the aid it receives, Israel does in fact repay America for its support, and much more. Not only do we Israelis fulfill our obligation to keep our immediate vicinity safe, and to seek political and diplomatic understandings wherever we can without jeopardizing that safety, but we also accept strict limits on our trade with America’s rivals. A case in point is China, a country with which trade could long ago have reached much higher levels had Israel not been bound by its promises to the US.”

Lerman also calls attention to Israel’s “seminal leadership role” in the field of cyber-defense. In recent years, a full 20 percent of global investment in cyber-defense has gone to a country with 0.1 percent of the world’s population – “a badge of honor and a tribute to Israel’s bright, inquisitive young minds and an encouraging thought in times of great and troubling uncertainty.”

Read the full article in Mosaic.