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Changing world, shifting relations: Israel’s ties with China

Israel and China are peculiar partners. In almost every way, they display contrasts as opposed to commonalities – across cultures, history, size, political systems, economic structures, and ideology. In the face of their differences, they have succeeded in cultivating flourishing economic relations, and today, China is Israel’s second-largest trading partner country. China’s relations with Israel are emblematic of the impact of the PRC’s vast international outreach over the past decade.

SIGNAL Note 63: Reflecting On Moroccan Sense Of Tolerance

Morocco is not a fully-fledged democracy, as is the case in the West, but incrementally the country, is slowly but surely, moving in that direction. As a matter of fact, the constitution of 2011 has opened the door to the devolution of power and has strengthened the diverse identity of the Moroccan individual: he is Arab, Muslim, Amazigh, Jewish, African and Mediterranean.

Tolerance
Tolerance has been through centuries a way of life of the country and is the second nature of Moroccans, not to say that it is probably part of their DNA. Jews arrived in the country in the year 71 AD after the destruction of their second temple by the Romans. They were well received by the Amazigh/Berber native people and they quickly melted into their social fabric for two reasons: firstly, because they were tribal and secondly they shared in the trait of a strong matriarchal system.

The Jews, though a minority, managed to convert some of the Amazigh/Berber people to Judaism from paganism without obliterating their strong pagan beliefs such as practices linked to agricultural rites of fertility, which even Islam was not able to get rid of.

While the Amazigh/Berber concentrated their efforts on agriculture, cattle-raising and animal husbandry, the Jews developed commerce, trade and early banking practices, a tradition that was to continue for centuries until their departure to Israel starting in the fifties of the twentieth century, after the creation of the Jewish State in Palestine in 1948.

Israel’s China Challenge

The question of how to deal with an increasingly assertive, powerful China has left many in the international arena baffled – including Israel.

Until recently, Chinese investment entering the Jewish state both in infrastructure and high technologies was viewed strictly through an economic lens. But recent developments, emerging in part from increasing U.S.-China tensions, have led Israel to ask questions about their relationship with the Eastern giant.

The Haifa port conundrum perhaps best illustrates the emerging concerns and confusion by Israelis regarding how to navigate their dealings with Beijing. In 2015, Shanghai International Ports Group won a tender to operate the newly constructed container terminal of the Haifa port for 25 years.

And until 2018, all seemed kosher.

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