Monday, May 10, 2010

China pressure gains a victim in Israel

An Israeli parliamentarian calls off visit to Taiwan because all 1.3 billion people of China were moaning about it:
Deputy Knesset Speaker Carmel Shama (Likud) has decided not to join a delegation of Knesset members expected to visit Taiwan this week.

Shama explained that he had decided not to join the trip due to Chinese pressure. "After I was invited by the Taiwanese, the Knesset speaker appealed to me following messages conveyed by the Chinese. As the State of Israel needs China's help in curbing the Iranian nuclear program, I have decided not to join the delegation."
China gets upset about -- wait for it -- the Deputy Speaker. What a shame. Sadly, Shama seems unaware that China is feeding Tehran's nuclear weapons program, sometimes using Taiwanese firms as a conduit. It's a cheap and profitable way for China to keep American attention focused on anything other than Asia. Does Shama actually believe that his refusal to visit Taiwan is going to change opinions in Beijing? Or that if he had gone, Beijing would have changed its policy toward Tehran's nuclear weapons program? All he did was feed the beast -- as we often say, behavior that is rewarded is repeated, and Shama's kowtow will simply result in more demands from China.
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Tim Maddog said...

Michael, you wrote:
- - -
Sadly, Shama seems unaware that China is feeding Tehran's nuclear weapons program [...]
- - -

That assumes that he thinks like you and me. If, on the other hand, he is more concerned with how much money makes its way into his bank account (like some Taiwanese who do business in China), such "awareness" no longer factors into the equation.

Tim Maddog

les said...

I don't know Tim. I have yet to meet a Taiwanese who was willing to die defending his country, and I've yet to meet an Israeli who wasn't. Apples and oranges.

Trixie said...

I've always found it comical the way countries host birthday parties and certain kids aren't allowed to attend because their parents won't let them. All joking aside, good read and point made.

JerryZ said...

Thanks for the article, Michael. It is not surprising to me that the Likud Speaker of the Knesset would ask his deputy not to go. The request probably came all the way from the top, Likud PM Bibi Netanyahu. I can think of several reasons.

The West Bank-Jerusalem-Jewish settlements issue has been a thorn in the side of US-Israel relations. The Israeli hard line on a nuclear Iran and Israeli threats to attack Iran have put the US in a very ticklish situation with regards to Israel and Iran. Furthermore, Israel has a very profitable and growing defense (war) industry. And tensions are once again ramping up with Hezbollah and Lebanon.

I suspect that US is behind this request. Israel needs to make points with the US. I suspect Bibi got a call from Rahm Emanuel. The US needs some help on the Iran-China issue. Furthermore, Israel wants China to stop helping Iran's nuclear program. Throw Rahm a self-serving bone!

I suspect the defense industry, which is extremely politically connected, has requested that the Likud should make a small gesture to the US on this issue. After all, why unnecessarily anger your present and future customers.

And Israel has its hands full. Hezbollah is strengthening and Israel is getting nervous, very nervous. So they need to focus.

Is Israel afraid of China? No. Is Israel afraid of the US? No. Will they continue playing hardball with the US and Iran. Yes. Do they like China interfering with Iran? No way! Will they play hardball with China? If and when necessary. Just watch and see what happens if China continues to support the nuclear program in Iran!

All that said, Israelis are very pragmatic. They need the US and US needs them. The Israelis are used to walking a fine line. And Israeli issues are very complex.

Tim and Michael, Israel is very aware of China's and Taiwan's involvement with Iran and their nuclear program. And very concerned. Think of Shama's withdrawal as throwing the dog a small bone. After all, only Shama has announced that he is not going. And he is not kowtowing to China! If anything, the gesture is directed towards the White House and the US. And it is a very small gesture.

Unfortunately, Israel has a lot on its plate, what with Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran, Gaza, the West Bank and Syria. Taiwan is just not a big issue, if at all, for them. That is unfortunate.

Les, I am Jewish; my Jewish grandparents came from Russia some 100 years ago. I have many Israeli friends I worked with at Microsoft in Seattle/Redmond. They (and Jews in general) are not a monolithic-thinking family (mispocha)! Not even close. (Just watch the Knesset for an hour or so!) While Israelis and Jews care deeply about Israel, they have diverse opinions about Israeli politics and issues, even if they are currently serving in the IDF. Thus, "I've yet to meet an Israeli who wasn't", is an oversimplification, IMHO!

Fili said...

What interesting comments.

Trust me, Taiwan - or any other country, is better off not having Carmel Shama over.

But still, it's interesting that the delegation is still going ahead with the visit. It's interesting that this is taking place for the 2nd time despite a strong reaction from China the last time around.

The irony in all of this is that nobody in Israel would know or care about this unofficial visit to Taiwan if it wasn't for China's strange response. In raising this issue, Israeli and international media became interested and then it turns counter productive for China as now being perceived as bullying both Taiwan and other countries.

JerryZ said...


I don't know who Shama is. All I know is that he is an MK in the Likud party.

Actually, I was not aware that MKs have officially visited here in Taiwan before this upcoming visit. Furthermore, the only thing that called my attention to the impending visit was Michael's blog post. I don't read ynet. I did not see any mention in Haaretz. I checked the JPost, which I rarely read, and it had no mention.

I do know that the IDF sent a spokesman or delegation to China in April. Earlier, the PLA had sent a spokesman to Israel.

Frankly, I could not care less what China thinks about MKs visiting Taiwan. I think the Chinese would be ill-advised to make a stink about this visit. And I think China should stop selling arms and nuclear technology to Iran.

I also don't think that Taiwan should make any agreements with China while the ChiComs have missiles aimed at Taiwan. But now I am digressing! L'chaim!