From Washington, the issue of American leadership – much in the news these days in the wake of President Trump’s recent interactions with counterparts in Europe and the Middle East – has a distinctly abstract air.
Why is Israel returning to Africa? For Netanyahu, one reason dominates all others. “The automatic majority against Israel at the UN is composed—first and foremost—of African countries,” he told a gathering of Israel’s ambassadors to Africa in February of last year. “Whether in the end or at the outset, our goal is to change their voting patterns.”
Benjamin Netanyahu's historic visit to Africa this week is the first by an Israeli prime minister in close to 50 years. While the occasion is to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Entebbe raid in which he lost a brother and Israel's military prowess dazzled the world, Israel has considerably more to celebrate in Africa today. Little of this is publicly known, as it is a fraught story of people-to-people affinities ill-served by frequent government-to-government misalliance.
This piece focuses on votes at the UN General Assembly. Later pieces in this series will cover African voting at UNESCO and the UN Human Rights Council. Read the first in the series for an overview of Israel-Africa ties.