Dec. 1, 2016
f any other evidence were needed, the recent fires in, especially, Haifa bring home that the title of my essay, “Everybody Loves Israel,” was not to be taken literally. I stipulated as much at the outset of the essay, and I’m happy that both Robert Satloff and Eran Lerman agree.
Of course not everyone loves Israel—just as not everyone who has recently embraced a more favorable view of the Jewish state actually loves it. This applies most obviously to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, but also to Turkey, Egypt, and very probably Russia. China is a slightly different case: while Beijing’s cultivation of strong economic ties with Israel is certainly strategic—that is, part of a larger effort to exercise economic as well as political influence in the Middle East—it also springs from a degree of fascination mixed with envy. How can such a small country with so tiny a population achieve so much, and dominate its neighbors so effectively? Like the Japanese, men like President Xi Jin-ping would like some of that magic to rub off on themselves. That is or should be gratifying to Israeli self-esteem, but it’s hardly a sign of deep and abiding affection.
All the same, there is no denying that, as Robert Satloff phrases it, Israel is hot right now, and it’s worth exploring why.