Tag Archives: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

China Hedges Its Bets in the Middle East

By Gabriel Weinstein

Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States was only the beginning of a busy week of diplomacy. Last Tuesday 10 Chinese government officials and academics arrived in Israel for three days of meetings with Israeli academics, policy analysts and government officials. The meeting is China’s latest attempt to bolster relations with Israel and become a trusted ally among Middle Eastern Countries.

For most of Israel’s history official relations with China were non-existent. Israel sought to establish a firm partnership with China after the declaration of the People’s Republic of China in January 1950, but the Chinese government  did not acknowledge Israeli’s recognition. The relationship disintegrated in the mid-1950’s when Israel supported UN forces during the Korean War and chose to align with the United States during the Cold War. Though Israel and China engineered a series of covert weapons deals in the late 1970’s, official diplomatic relations were not restored until 1992.

Since then China and Israel have enjoyed a healthy commercial relationship. In 1992 the two countries traded $54 million worth of goods. By 2009 the figure mushroomed to $4.6 billion. Israel is a major supplier of agricultural, telecommunication and defense technologies in China. Major Israeli universities such as the Technion, Tel-Aviv University and Hebrew University have relationships with Chinese counterparts and integrate Chinese language and Asian studies into their curriculum.

Yet, much to Israel’s chagrine, China has showered goodwill on other Middle Eastern countries over the past decade to feed its insatiable appetite for oil. It helped Syria modernize its aging energy infrastructure and provided caches of weapons since the 1990’s. In October Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo and Turkish Prime Minister announced plans for a railroad dubbed the “Silk Railway” to honor the ancient Silk Road between the countries. China is a major investor in Iraqi oil and has excused the government from paying outstanding loans from the Saddam Hussein era. Since 2005 leading Chinese oil companies Sinopec, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and China National Petroleum Corporations have invested in the several oil development projects in Israel’s arch nemesis Iran. Trade between China and Iran is valued at $21 billion and over 100 Chinese companies conduct business in Iran according to a report by CNA Analysis & Solutions on Sino-Iranian relations.

Although China’s cordial relations throughout the Middle East seems ominous for Israel, experts believe China does not want to become entangled in the regions mangled military landscape. Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said China has “walked away from its past as a supporter of liberation movements” in the Middle East during a speech in July. According to Alterman, China does not view the region as strategically significant and prefers to maintain a low profile throughout the region. He cites China’s relationships with Israel and Iran as proof of China’s indifference.

The CNA report draws similar conclusions about China’s ambitions in the region. The report states China’s four goals in the Middle East are to prevent one global power from dominating the region, stem anti-Chinese and pro-Taiwan sentiments and garner support for broader Chinese foreign policy.

Although most experts believe China is not overly interested in the Middle East, China’s attitude toward Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is cause for concern. Experts in the CNA report were concerned Chinese companies sell equipment to Iran that could be used nuclear weapon production. The latest round of Wikileaks cables revealed the American government shares the same sentiments, as American diplomats have pleaded with China to monitor the industrial products that can be used to build nuclear weaponry it sells to Iran.

As China continues its geopolitical ascent, potential allies must not fear confronting China about its potentially careless political tactics. A nuclear-armed Iran is not just a threat to Israel, but to the entire global community as a potential strike on Israel might encourage Iran to broaden its military ambitions. The United States must respect and acknowledge China’s ascent to global prominence, but make clear that China’s policy of potentially reckless commerce will not be tolerated.

UN Racism Conference Starts Today–Ahmadinejad Accuses Israel of Genocide

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

European diplomats walk out in protest as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attacks Israel during a speech Monday at a U.N. conference in Geneva. (Michael J. Jordan)

European delegates walk out during Ahmadinejad's speech (via JTA)

Well, it’s not as if the United Nations Durban II conference against racism was ever going to avoid controversy. The primary storyline going into the conference was the contentious–if not by any means surprising–abstention by the United States and Israel (as well as Canada, Italy, Germany, Australia, and Holland). 

But news has just come out about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech earlier today that we must post first.

JTA has the scoop on the speech, which occurred a few hours ago, in which European diplomats walked out in protest:

In a speech at the U.N.-sponsored anti-racism conference in Geneva, the Iranian president first blamed the West for injustice, then went on the offensive against Israel, calling it the “racist perpetrators of genocide.”

“Under the pretext of Jewish suffering, they have helped bring to power the most oppressive, racist regime in Palestine,” Ahmadinejad said, to heavy applause from Iranians in the upper gallery and pockets of Muslims elsewhere on the floor. “They have always been silent about their crimes.”…

At the first mention of “Jewish,” representatives of the 23 European Union countries that chose to participate in the conference noisily got up from their seats and marched out the door—a move met by more clapping from Iranian and Arab delegates, while other diplomatic delegations refrained…

Ahmadinejad went on to criticize the United States for the bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for the global economic crisis.

He railed against those who use their “economic and political influence” and control of the media to back the “barbaric racism” of the “Zionist regime.” He called for the world to “put an end to abuses by the Zionists” and the “conspiracies by some powers and Zionist circles.” Continue reading

World Leaders React to Obama—Drama Ensues

picture-11Everyone is talking about Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s letter to president-elect Barack Obama. The letter, according to Iranian news agency ISNA, congratulates Obama and expresses Ahmadinejad’s wish for real change in US policy towards Iran. Every major newspaper has an emphatic headline for Ahmadinejad’s letter, which reflects the world’s on-edge expectations for the new administration.

We Jews are definitely waiting to see how Obama’s campaign promises play out in Iran. Will Obama shun Ahmadinejad the way President Bush did when the former sent a long-winded letter that many perceived as a tendril of friendlier relations?

And the other great piece of news from world leaders comes out of Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called Obama “young, handsome and also tanned.” Of course, it’s a dubious racial reference that has been rightly protested across the globe. But it’s also funny, you have to admit, to hear a foreign leader talk about Obama as if he was a fresh young signing for AC Milan, Berlusconi’s soccer team.

Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

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This Week’s Links

  • Sir Paul McCartney is soooo the man. He’s bringing “a message of peace” to Israel. [JPost]
  • This is definitely not kosher: Charedi men were caught sneaking to computer labs late at night and looking at porn. [Ynet via Geek Heeb]
  • Getting tired of Ahmadinejad talk yet? Too bad. Lots of people are irate at his planned appearance at an interfaith dinner tonight. [CSM]
  • His Royal Highness Prince Charles has a thing for Judaism, apparently. [Totally Jewish]
  • “The peculiar character traits I have noticed displayed by Jews over the years are the comic equivalent of gold dust.” Comedian Mark Maier on Jews and comedy. [Jewish Community Online]
  • Either Bill Clinton is procrastinating, or he really cares about the high holidays. He won’t start campaigning for Obama until they’re over. [Ha’aretz]

—Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

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Ahmadinejad’s UN Speech, Full Text

We don’t think this needs much of an introduction. For more information on the UN meetings this week, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech in particular, go to CNN, BBC, AP, or Al Jazeera.

New York, September 23, 2008

In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful

“All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe, and peace and blessing be upon our Master and Prophet, Mohammad, and his pure household, and his noble companions.”

“Oh God, hasten the arrival of Imam Al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those who attest to his rightfulness.”

Mr. President,


I am grateful to the Almighty for granting me another opportunity to be present in this world Assembly.

In the last three years, I have talked to you about great hopes in the bright future of human society, and some solutions for achieving sustainable peace and expanding love, compassion, Continue reading