Christina Lin
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Europe’s BDS and Bonsai Armies: Is the sun setting in the West and rising east in China?

The West's moral failures are driving Israel and China to forge a new alignment to combat global terrorism

Last week’s Newsweek cover story was headlined “Exodus: why Europe’s Jews are fleeing once again.”

Another Guardian news article warned Europe’s rise of anti-Semitism is “in worst times since the Nazis.”

While Europeans obsess about Israel and accuse her of “genocide” for fighting terrorism against Hamas and exercising her right to self-defense, they are strangely silent in face of ISIS’s genocide and abominations against fellow Christians and non-Muslims in Iraq.

This moral double standard against Israel is perplexing, especially for China with no history of anti-Semitism. Ironically, while the West is turning against Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and frontline against Islamic jihadism, this rising power in the East is marching across the Silk Road to stand with Jerusalem in the war against terror.

Faced with its worst terror attacks in decades in Xinjiang and elsewhere, China, rather than turning to Europe, is seeking Israeli help in counter-terrorism. Chinese netizens and government also increasingly value Israel as a rock of stability in a sea of Islamic upheaval in the Middle East.

In a sense China has much in common with Israel as a victim of double standards in counter-terrorism. When Beijing faced terrorist attacks in Kunming, western media described it as “violence” rather than “terrorism,” which angered Chinese netizens on Weibo and Wechat.

And despite increasing demilitarization and ongoing economic woes, Europe nonetheless is applying BDS against Israel, a dynamic economy based on innovation and high technology. By contrast, China recognizes this asset and is quickly investing in Israeli high-tech sector and human capital via joint ventures and research centers, while Jerusalem looks east to China’s lucrative export market as the world’s second largest economy.

Interestingly, Turkey shares the Israeli assessment of Europe’s economic as well as military decline. In the aftermath of EU’s Eurozone crisis and defense austerity measures, some mid-level ranks of the Turkish military are also looking east, with a Turkish naval officer referring to European armies as “bonsai armies” and why Turkey is looking eastward because “China is on the way of great power.”

Bonsai is a miniature Japanese tree the size of a potted plant.

In November 2011, Christian Molling of the Berlin-based Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politick (SWP) wrote an article assessing how defense budget cuts will produce European bonsai armies over the next five years, with ever shrinking forces and diminishing capabilities. “In Germany, France, and Great Britain there will be miniature versions of armies…these tiny armies will hardly offer serious military power anymore.”

Thus Turkey had turned to China for its NATO missile defense system in September.

In addition to corroding economic and military power, Europe’s moral standard also seems to be eroding.

Antisemitism is ranked the highest in France, Belgium and Hungary—especially France with increasing exodus of French Jews to Israel in fear for their lives. And despite being a permanent member of the UN Security Council and new NATO member since it rejoined in 2009, Paris is also facing erosion of its moral authority among allies with its recent sale of Mistral warships to Putin.

Paris has not only reaped the condemnation of its NATO allies, especially the outrage of Poland and Baltic states, but also incurred the contempt of Japan that has territorial disputes with Russia over the Kuril Islands—or Northern Territories of Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan and Habomai in Japanese parlance.

In July Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, that Japan was strongly concerned about this plan and its impact on East Asia’s security situation.

“’Strong concern’, in a sense, means we want them to stop the deal,” Onedera told reporters.

U.S. State Department also expressed its displeasure that “We don’t think anyone should be providing arms to Russia”, and that delivery of French Mistral amphibious assault ships to Russia would be “completely inappropriate.” In fact, Russian Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky said if Russia had Mistral ships in its 2008 invasion of Georgia, it would have taken “40 minutes instead of 26 hours.”

In face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and downing of Malaysian flight MH17, French delivery of offensive naval platforms built to support invasions is thus seen as sacrificing fellow NATO democratic allies’ security on the altar of commerce with an aggressor.

Thus with Europe’s moral compromises, rampant anti-Semitism, BDS movement, economic woes and bonsai armies, Israel and China are turning to each other and forging a new alignment to combat global terrorism. As Chinese ambassador to Israel Gao Yanping penned in a J-post article back in April, bilateral relations are bound to blossom. And as the sun seems to be rising in the East with China enjoying continual blessings and ascendance in global power and prestige, one wonders if this is confirming the Book of Genesis scripture that “I will bless those who bless you [Israel] and I will curse him who curses you.”

About the Author
Dr. Christina Lin is a US-based foreign policy analyst specializing in China-Mediterranean relations. She has extensive US government experience working on national security issues and was a CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) research consultant for Jane's Information Group.
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