Monday, August 27, 2018

Building Israel's diplomatic power - Ariel Bolstein

by Ariel Bolstein

In recent years, Israel has been building bridges with countries it neglected on the diplomatic front. The result is a network of new alliances that give Israel support in international organizations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Lithuania, where he met with leaders of Baltic nations, is an important element in the strategy to build Israel's alliances. As members of the European Union, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia are able to influence other EU countries when it comes to the Jewish state. As small nation-states that spent decades fighting for their own independence, the Baltic countries thoroughly understand the dangers that pose a threat to Israel.

The anti-Israel winds that sometimes blow in Brussels are foreign to the Baltic nations. They are reached by the waves of propaganda that portray us in a false light as the occupying aggressor. But the Baltic people, who learned to withstand Soviet propaganda, are able to understand the difference between propaganda and truth. In Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, Israel is seen as a model of how to establish a flourishing state in the absence of natural resources and in a hostile region.

The Baltic countries appreciate Israel's security achievements. Their concept of defense rests on the NATO alliance, which all three joined as soon as they could. But it is clear to their leaders that small countries that border strong, unpredictable historical enemies need to know how to look after their own security. From whom can they learn to do that, if not from Israel? The stronger the alliance between us becomes, the more support the Baltic countries will give us in international forums. Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia already tend to vote with Israel and are eventually expected to support not only our rights in Jerusalem but also in Judea and Samaria.

In recent years, Israel has been building bridges to countries and regions that it neglected in the past: the breakthrough to Africa, the amazing closeness with India, the alliance on the eastern Mediterranean with Greece and Cyprus, the special relations with the Visegrád Group countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia), and now the move toward the Baltic countries. All these are important steps in building Israel's diplomatic power.

Ariel Bolstein is the founder of the Israel advocacy organization Faces of Israel.


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