Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Why Malawi moving its embassy is a big deal

Malawi is not one of the biggest countries on the planet. It is not one of the most famous or important nations. 

But it just did something very big.

It confirmed that it plans to open up a full embassy in Jerusalem by next summer.

Up until now, only the US and Guatemala have opened embassies in Jerusalem, with Honduras planning a move by the end of the year.

Up until now, Israel haters could find ways to marginalize the nations that made that move. 

But there is a huge difference between 2 and 3, or between 3 and 4. Each nation that makes that decision makes it enormously easier for the next nation to make the move.

Not only that, but Malawi watched what happened to Guatemala and Honduras. 

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation  threatened to boycott Guatemalan exports, specifically cardamom, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In the end - the threats were empty and nothing happened.

The EU has expressed displeasure at countries considering moving their embassies. But nothing happened there either.

Malawi is seeing Sudan recognize Israel, and Israel's good relationships with other African countries. It sees that there is no disadvantage on moving. Perhaps the US or Israel offered something in trade for the move, but that is normal diplomacy. 

This is a very big deal. Malawi would be the first African country to make the move. It did the calculus and decided that the gains it could get by getting chummier with Israel more than counters the threats from some Arab countries.

And, of course, Bahrain and the UAE normalizing relations with Israel weakens the Arab anti-Israel consensus immeasurably.

The momentum towards accepting Israel and ignoring the anti-Israel bias of the Arab nations, the EU and the UN is slowly growing. But it is unmistakable. 

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