April 21, 2019

Should Israel Be Concerned About Chinese Influence?

“Comments made this week by Nadav Argaman, head of the Shin Bet, set off two storms that got Israel in trouble with two world superpowers — Russia and China. At a closed-door meeting on Jan. 8, Argaman said that “a foreign state” intends to “meddle” in the April 9 elections using hackers and cybertechnology. Argaman insisted he knew this for a fact, although he did not know “which side” the meddling was supposed to benefit. The Russians were quick to deny any involvement in the upcoming elections or in any other election campaign.

Appearing the following day before another closed-door forum, Argaman spoke of China’s involvement in Israel, warning that its massive economic investments could pose a threat to state security. “The Chinese influence in Israel is particularly dangerous,” Argaman said, according to Channel 10 News, “especially as it concerns investment in strategic infrastructure and in major companies.” Argaman was likely referring to the Chinese companies contracted to build a new Mediterranean port in the northern city of Haifa and a light rail system in Tel Aviv; its acquisition of Israel’s largest food manufacturer, Tnuva, by Chinese Bright Food company; and its interest in buying major Israeli insurers. The Shin Bet chief argued in favor of legislation to oversee the Chinese investments in Israel. “The law is lagging behind in terms of foreign investment oversight. This could be dangerous,” he reportedly said.

National security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat from the Shin Bet has made similar comments, also in closed forums.

Israelis are not the only ones concerned about China’s growing involvement in mega investments in Israel. The US administration is not wild about this turn of events and is monitoring it closely. US national security adviser John Bolton raised the issue with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials with whom he met in Israel earlier this month. Bolton reportedly demanded that Netanyahu tighten his government’s oversight of the Chinese firms operating in Israel to foil any espionage activity. Behind the scenes, US criticism of Chinese telecom companies such as Huawei and ZTE is far harsher, with an Israeli security source describing it (on condition of anonymity) as “really furious.” In meetings with their Israeli counterparts, US defense officials repeatedly raise the issue, arguing that China should not be building Israel’s major ports and large infrastructure projects. The Americans have even hinted at the unpleasant prospect of the US 6th Fleet boycotting Chinese-built ports.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"After five years of war with the Islamic State, the biggest problem for the winners is coping with the losers. The aftermath has produced one of the world’s most perplexing postwar challenges..."

"What do we mean when we say that the “soul of the city” is under threat? Often, it’s really about politics, nostalgia, and the fear of community change."

"...the pendulum of history never stops moving. Indeed, one of the few constants of history is unceasing change. While we seem to be heading in one direction, we must remember that there will surely be pauses, turns, and reversals."

""Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé," premiered early Wednesday and it was the fulfillment of all the ancestors' hopes and dreams. Beyoncé also dropped "Homecoming: The Live Album.""

"Seven in 10 adults ages 18 to 34 received financial support from their parents in the last year, including more than half of those in their early 30s. Almost three in five millennials said they couldn’t afford their lifestyles without the support."

"Social media influencers have helped turn public lands into tourist-infested swamps. And one cantankerous man is fighting back."

"One particular myth that attached itself to Ledger was that his death was somehow a result of immersing himself in the character of the Joker."

"In 2018, for the second year in a row, American publishers released fewer translated titles: 609 books were published, down from 650 in 2017 and the industry high in 2016 of 666."

"Egg freezing had become so routine among my single peers that when I hit 35, I never thought twice. Here’s what I wish I had known."

"When it comes to Passover cuisine, most home cooks know to avoid wheat, oats, rye, and other forbidden ingredients. But what consumers might not realize is just how much cotton they eat during the holiday."

"A masked figure looms over your recumbent body, wielding power tools and sharp metal instruments, doing things to your mouth you cannot see."

"Passover is a holiday that commemorates the Jewish people escaping slavery in Egypt. It is often referred to as the “festival of freedom.” My Passover in prison was at a place called the Wallkill Correctional Facility..."