Russia and Israel, who knew?

(CCU Student & Centennial Intern) From the American armchair, Israel looks rather lonely. She is the only democracy amongst a host of dutiful, patriarchal Arab nations. With death threats, weak peace treaties, and a rising pile of Israel–condemning resolutions coming from all parts of the United Nations, things look bleak for the tiny nation state of Israel. Much of the turmoil stems from the poor international opinion of nearly everything Israel does.

For example, take a look at the Goldstone Report (circa 2009). The findings of the report condemn the Israeli military’s Operation Cast–Lead, which took place in the Gaza Strip. An operation designed to take aim at Hamas terror sites, specifically safe houses containing known leaders and weapon caches, places and people responsible for ceaseless rocket attacks aimed at Israeli civilians. All the target areas featured a dense population to discourage Israeli retaliation, and because of the Israeli’s respect of innocent civilians, the Israeli military repeatedly sabotaged the effectiveness of their operation by pre–attack–leafleting target areas to warn civilians off and even canceling high priority strikes when innocent noncombatants were found in the target zone. This can only be construed as the utmost respect for human life, even at the expense of the security of the Israeli state.

Of course, the United States supports Israel along with a host of other nations through foreign aid bills passed by congress every year. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the United States’s veto power has been used time and time again to cripple libelous anti–Semitic resolutions before they could reach the light of day. The U.S. has even been proactive, and through U.S. sanctions levied at the energy segment of Iran’s economy there has been a de–facto halting of Iran’s nuclear project, which assuredly seeks to level Israel. Even through the myriad of bombings and other attacks, the U.S. has attempted to host peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Yet, none of these seems to wield enough power to right the sinking ship that is Israeli–world relations.

Before the cry goes out to look for the lifeboats, there have been some new developments to the world scene, and quite possibly, they may turn the tidal swells into a more favorable current. Of all the unlikely countries, Russia has taken a timid step towards the pro Israel camp, or at least neutrality. Recent arms deals between both France and Russia, and Israel and Russia have convinced Russia to break off a deal to sell the S300 missile system to Iranian buyers. Among other things the Iranian oil sector though crude rich, lacks desperately on refining capacity. With Iran relying on outside sources for over seventy–five percent of its refined petroleum products. Though the U.S. has made divestments, the Iranians have still been receiving oil from Russia, China, and other parts of Asia. With the arms deal and other political maneuverings, Russia has further decided to cut their refinement and resale of petroleum products to Iran by over fifty–percent. All of this comes in the wake of Russia’s budding relationship with Israel, who is beginning to prove helpful in rebuilding the Russian infrastructure. By nature of Israel’s status as a startup nation, the small country has proven to be explosively successful and their Russian neighbors long for a dollop of that success.

This may not be a blatantly marked or even reported victory, but in the complex web of relations and stability in the east this small transition makes a marked difference. First France, though already feisty, seems to have finally plunged into a more active role in precluding the international abhorrence of Israel. Second, and more importantly, the Russians may not love Israel, yet, but they see the potential good from keeping them around on the world stage. Third, the U.S. for all its blustering and single handed goodness can’t expect to be the sole force for Israel’s protection. And furthermore the U.S. must continue to protect Israel as the only stable, free, capitalistic, democratic state in the mid east.

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