Israel & Taiwan in the Obama Era

Israel should take careful note of Taiwan.

Moshe Phillips

OpEds לבן ריק
לבן ריק

The mainstream media paid little attention in August when Israel sent much needed aid to Taiwan in response to the deadliest typhoon to hit the Chinese island nation in its history.
Both countries have seen US support undergo radical revision.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Raphael Gamzou, director of the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, explained that Taiwan's people "are incredibly friendly to Israel... [and] this expression of solidarity of the government and people of Israel will strengthen friendly sentiments."

Israel and Taiwan have both experienced excessive abuse at the hands of the United Nations. Both countries have seen US support undergo radical revision. Taiwan's support from the United States reached a peak with the Eisenhower administration and fell during the Nixon/Kissinger years. Israelis saw President George W. Bush as a great friend and now view President Barack Obama as more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israeli.

In April 2008, news reports about declassified 50-year-old US government documents shed light on just how far some in the Eisenhower administration were ready to go to defend an ally - Taiwan (officially: the Republic of China). Friends of Israel should take careful note of this period in the history of US foreign policy, and especially of how radically and how quickly the American position shifted.

The declassified documents showed that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was committed to defending Taiwan against mainland China. "Ike" considered authorizing nuclear strikes to force Communist China to retreat from a possible blockade of the anti-Communist Chinese on Taiwan (the Republic of China). This was no small skirmish in 1958; the Communists fired approximately 450,000 shells at Taiwan during the 1958 conflict.

By 1972 President Richard Nixon completely changed American policy on China. It took just 14 years for the US orientation to be completely reversed. More amazing is how this about-face transpired and under whose watch.

Nixon had been Eisenhower's vice-president. Ten years after Ike's military brass sought a nuclear option to confront Red China, Nixon was elected president and the United States was fighting against Communists in Vietnam.

In July 1971 Nixon dispatched Henry Kissinger to Beijing, where he met with Chairman Mao. The die was cast. It should not be forgotten that Kissinger also sought to encourage Nixon to abandon Israel during the Yom Kippur War.

In October 1971 the UN General Assembly voted to give the Chinese seat to the People's Republic of China ("Red China"). The Chinese permanent seat (one of just five permanent members) on the UN Security Council went to Red China as well.

By 1972 Nixon had normalized US relations with Red China. Before this reversal Nixon had been known throughout his political career as a staunch anti-Communist. Nixon visited Beijing in February 1972.

Nixon's Republican administration abandoned the Republic of China on Taiwan and the world followed. Every year since 1992, the Chinese on Taiwan have petitioned for UN membership and their request has been denied. Similarly, the UN has singled out Israel for more criticism than any other nation.

Communist China has, of course, been no friend of Israel in the UN and has supported Israel's enemies through its powerful position on the Security Council. Communist China was the first non-Islamic country to officially recognize the PLO.

In the aftermath of Beijing's win at the UN, Yasser Arafat was infamously invited to address the UN in 1974. It must be noted that Arafat was invited to address the UN when Kurt Waldheim was its secretary-general.

Arafat was first invited to Communist China in March 1964. He went to Beijing 14 times; his last visit was in August 2001. Arafat and Fatah reciprocated Red China's support. Alliances were struck between Fatah and Red China's other terrorist clients. Most notoriously, Arafat praised Beijing's bloody response to the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

The crucial thing for friends of Israel to understand from this 50-year-old story and its aftermath is that the strategic and political approach that the United States takes towards support for her allies can change. Affinity, promises, good sense and fair play can all be forgotten - and quickly.

Israel's strategic value as an ally in a very dangerous part of the world will not be enough to prevent a US president as committed to changing the course of American policy as Nixon was when he went to China in February 1972.

Israel must therefore formulate its policy with this in mind.

No Israeli government should surrender any Israeli-held territory. Ever. Israel needs every inch of the strategic
Notoriously, Arafat praised Beijing's bloody response to the Tiananmen Square protests.
depth that it has. America is no guarantor of Israeli security, nor should it be. America remains Israel's strongest ally. All friends of Israel hope that America remains aligned with Israel, but alliances can and do change. The Taiwanese learned this; let's pray that Israel does not. Taiwan is still affected by Nixon's decisions.

Taiwan lost membership in all UN organizations. Taiwan's population of over 23 million has no representation at the UN. The Palestinian National Authority's population was estimated in 2008 to be 4.1 million. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was established in 1948 and is devoted exclusively to Palestinian Arabs. UNRWA is the only UN agency dedicated to working for refugees in a specific conflict. UNRWA's cash budget for 2008 was over $540 million. It must be made clear that UNRWA has never assisted Jewish refugees who were victimized in Islamic nations and fled for their safety to Israel.

Israel and her supporters should - at every opportunity - expose the UN for the fraud that it is. This includes the unjust exclusion of Taiwan. In the Obama era especially, Israel should seek to strengthen ties with those nations like Taiwan that are "incredibly friendly to Israel." History may record Nixon's abandonment of Taiwan as minor compared to Obama's desertion of Israel.

This column originally appeared in American Thinker with the title "Israel, Taiwan, and the UN" on September 4, 2009.