The dialogue between the US and Cuba – Is it an opportunity for Israel?

The last visit of the US President Barack Hussein Obama in March was the subject of many conversations in the international political arena. This event has been perceived by the media as an historical moment. You can find in a number of articles which indicate the period of 88 years since the last visit of an American president to this Caribbean island. This is correct. Obama’s visit to Cuba presents a radical change. Could this change heralds the resumption of the relations between those two countries that had been disconnected 50 years ago? Maybe.

From a general point of view we can say that there is a room for cautious optimism. This is the beginning of a relationship that 10 years ago seemed impossible. It has been a topic of discussion in which we saw clearly the differences between the Communist and capitalist world. We must remember that during the years, some diplomatic meetings between Cuba and the US, Part of them led by Jim Carter, former US president, those meeting ended without a cohesive purpose. Therefore, the last official visit by the current president of the United States, had different opinions, but certainly we can say that this is the beginning of a new political culture that cannot be denied.

In recent years, Cuba is undergoing to its internal policy; the most important was the resignation of the legendary leader Fidel Castro and the transfer of power to his brother, Raul. At those days many said that Raul would be worse, and that this process will not change anything. Those sayings were not particularly right. In the recent years Cuba is under a transformation in which the citizens were able to be expose a front the new technologies which aroused the curiosity of the Cuban population.

Obama’s visit is not only stirred the interest of those people who dream of a future union between those two different countries. The Cuban people, who hope that the new comrade will buy them a chance to develop into the global world, despite the concern that this could be another tactic by the US to invade Cuba with new investors or tourists, which will provide risk to the message, character and spirit of the Cuban revolution.

Cuba begins to unfold in front of the world

The economic factor is an important matter. If Cuba will be able to get a relief of the sanctions and develop commercial relations with the United States, this will certainly reflect significant changes. It is estimated that after the end of the embargo, Cuba can add up to 30% of the total tobacco exports to the United States, and to increase its annual income by 60%. This is an amount of approximately $ 680 million per year. From a social perspective, the Cuban nation is seeking for a change, and the government, even if it’s against her will, must begin with a new strategy to deal with international changes will occur.

In order to begin the process, Cuba established a project named “Draft guidelines for the economic and social policy”. This project led Cuba to analyze more thoroughly further position in the world, along with social problems, and now came the moment when they need to devise strategies for foreign investment. Cuba came to a conclusion that it is an urgent need to make a change in their foreign policy, social policy and interior issues. This result is derived from the fact that the Cuba status disappeared from the international agenda discussions in recent years. Those countries which have criticized the US sanctions and stood beside Cuba, began to realize that there are other problems. On the other hand the United States security services no longer sees Cuba a threatening. Moreover, it is quite possible that the US has begun to see the sanctions against Cuba, as a problem or a whim of internal politics, not as necessary act as they thought during the Cold war. There is no doubt that here lies a fundamental change.

This is a good opportunity for Israel:

Among the Latin community in Israel (Spanish-speakers), Israel’s foreign policy with countries in Latin-America, are based on the following topics: Israel has managed to maintain a close relationship of trade with Latin America, that fact also tell how much Latin American culture had infiltrate into the Israeli society.

This is because Israel is supposed to concern that its foreign policy, diplomatic relations and media tactics, especially in third world countries. In  These three  aspects, Israel failed to gain influence, when organizations such as the BDS together with other supporters of terrorism and anti-Semitism, joined the fight to harm Israel’s image, but in another battle, “asymmetrical warfare”, which aims to harm the enemy by influencing on the Public opinion.

As I mentioned in other articles, Israel should begin to take a closer look into Latin America in order to understand the political culture of that region. In addition, to influence more into the media and government lobbies, as did Iran and other radical Islam countries, who had already managed to reap strong roots in Latin America, and various government institutions.  We can therefore understand the importance of Cuba in this regard.

The recognition of the Islamic Republic of Iran by Cuba in 1982, allowed Iran to make it first steps in Latin America. That relationship led later to establish a tripartite border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay; Terrorists infiltrated from which carried out the attacks in Buenos Aires in the early 90s. Officially and publicly, touch it up with the rise of Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader. For this reason, we must not underestimate the presence of Cuba in Latin America and what it represents.

Relations between Israel and Cuba were in effect until 1973-1967. Israel since its creation, together with the United States and other Western countries, has always represented the modern world which demonstrated the image of the imperialist countries, which Cuba fights since its revolution. Nevertheless, Cuba under Fidel Castro’s governor, maintained close ties with Israel. Cuban leader highly appreciated the pioneering spirit of Israel, and saw the socialist ideology of the kibbutz as a role model. Unfortunately, this friendship it did not last long: In September 1973 Cuba severed diplomatic attitude with Israel, and then immediately closed the Zionist Federation of Cuba. Israel’s position was not indifferent to the front of Cuba after its recent decision, managed to put alongside countries such as Libya. At that moment, Israel become a part of those countries that will always vote against Cuba at the UN with the US and other powers.

Several occasions throughout history

The fall of communism in Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, put Cuba in an economic crisis which has forced it to align with the global system. Hence, Cuba begins to renew relations with Israel. This was done through non-formal connections, such as “Taglit”, which young Cuban Jews were allowed to be part of the program and come to Israel. The Oslo agreement was a key moment that could play in Israel’s favor, but the sad reality in the Middle East did not allowed to link this blossom.

However, Israel must take into account that the Cuba interests is political and not anti-Semite. Cuba was among the few countries even after severing ties with Israel that continued to maintain Jewish institutions in the country, and remember that in the ’90s with the great migration of Cuban to Miami also allowed Jews to immigrate to Israel.

Today, Israel must instill deeper into its foreign policy, especially in third world countries, also in Latin America, especially in recent years that there a lost a lot of weight. A new approach was born after Obama’s visit to Cuba could be the beginning of a new opportunity. Israel should not be indifferent to this event. Israel will have to focus more on their diplomacy in Cuba and the future of this country. The United States took the first step, we need to work while the door is open. Cuba is the gateway to Latin America as it was for other countries. We are facing a moment, and we need to start working with Latin America. We hope that the door will not close again.

About the Author
Gaston Saidman was born in Argentina and arrived in Israel at the age of 12. After his Military Service, he served as the Chairman of the young Latin American Committee of Latin American olim Organization. Today he is acting as the General Manager of FOILAT Organization, which is developing a Parliament Lobby in the Israeli Knesset to strengthen the Diplomatic relations between Israel and Latin America. He is also involved in other activities such as the Smart Middle East Forum, and a new movement that will develop Public Diplomatic projects with other young and Zionist activist.