It seems a lot longer than a month ago that the hot topic of diplomatic discourse was the prospect of an exchange of ambassadors between Tel Aviv and Riyadh. Now, Israel’s assault on Gaza has begun to cost it international partners. Among the countries that have expressed official umbrage in recent weeks – either by recalling envoys or suspending relations entirely – are Bolivia, Chile, Chad, Colombia, Honduras, Turkey, Bahrain and Jordan. On Monday, South Africa announced that it would recall all of its diplomats from Israel too. It is not yet clear whether Israel has figured out what the endgame in Gaza will be. What is apparent, however, is that it has lost control of the narrative.
While Israel is rightly aggrieved and furious at Hamas’s rampage of 7 October, the rest of the world’s attention has since been captivated – again, rightly – by the human cost of the country’s response. It did not have to be this way. On 18 October, the leader of Israel’s most steadfast ally made a remarkable speech while visiting Tel Aviv. After some proper expressions of sympathy, Joe Biden reflected on the comparisons, already widespread, between 7 October 2023 and 11 September 2001. He noted that, after the latter, the US had been enraged and had made mistakes as a consequence. “While you feel that rage,” he cautioned Israel, “don’t be consumed by it.”
Monstrosities such as the September 11 attacks and the recent Hamas incursion were also provocations. Both al-Qaeda and Hamas wanted a fight, having nothing else to offer those they purport to represent. Any nation that is hit by such an attack is entitled – indeed, obliged – to take measures to prevent a recurrence. But the sympathy and solidarity generated by terrorist atrocities should not be lightly squandered. Back in 2001, immediately after September 11, candlelit vigils were held in Tehran. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, could have rallied the world to his country’s cause. He is in danger of doing the opposite.
The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, is travelling to the Indo-Pacific region today, following a tour of the Middle East. He will meet G7 foreign ministers in Tokyo before heading to Seoul, where he will hold talks with South Korea’s president, Yoon Suk-yeol, and foreign minister, Park Jin. Blinken’s trip will conclude in New Delhi for the annual US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, a summit designed to strengthen relations between the two nations. The trip comes at a time of increased tensions in the region, with both South Korea and Japan recently condemning North Korea’s transfer of weapons to Russia. “Blinken is trying to show that the US can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Scott Lucas, professor of international politics at University College Dublin, tells The Monocle Minute. “Even as the US is supporting Ukraine over Russia’s invasion and is trying to contain the Israel-Gaza violence, Biden’s administration is showing that it is committed to working with Asian countries in military, political and economic affairs. The US is keeping its eye on the ball with the South Korean alliance.”
Members of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party have backed a controversial plan to grant amnesty to those who were involved in the failed 2017 bid for Catalan independence in order to help their leader, Pedro Sánchez, secure a second term as prime minister. To form a government, Sánchez needs the support of the Catalan Republican Left and Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), Spain’s two main pro-independence parties. The prime minister has been in charge of a caretaker government since July after an inconclusive snap election.
The idea of an amnesty is unpopular: a poll in September indicated that 70 per cent of the country opposed it. But the clock is ticking for Sánchez and his allies, who have until the end of the month to secure congressional approval to form a new government. If they’re unsuccessful, parliament will be dissolved and Spain will hold another vote in January 2024 – the country’s sixth general election in nine years.
Despite its name, New York-based non-profit company Micro has big plans to reinvent the way that we experience exhibitions. The company creates smaller alternatives to conventional museums, which are largely found in major cities, and places them in community centres, hospitals and transport hubs. This helps Micro to reach audiences that might not usually visit an exhibition.
With its quirky vitrines that are about the size of a vending machine, the company aims to strip down the museum experience, which can often be “dense and inaccessible”, says Charles Philipp, Micro’s co-founder. Among its exhibits are the Museum of Care, exploring the evolution of healthcare, and the Smallest Mollusk Museum, which condenses 650 million years of evolution into a few stacked boxes. Micro’s shows attract tens of thousands of visitors a month and the company is advising cultural institutions around the US on how they can make their own miniature museums.
For more on Micro and its grand plans to rethink museum spaces, buy a copy of Monocle’s November issue, which is out now.
The president of Emirates airline, Tim Clark, sits down with Monocle to tell us about the high-flying world of the award-winning flag carrier, how it navigates its role as a soft-power ambassador and the challenges of delivering greener air travel.
How much do you consider your role in contributing to the UAE’s nation-building? And as a flag carrier, what does that mean in practice?
We weren’t charged with that in the early days. But because we became so successful, we realised that there was a crossover between what we were doing and how Dubai was being perceived. We’re very proud of that but it isn’t something that we aspired for or have been directed by the state to achieve. We are good at what we do and Dubai is good at what it does. Taken together, the two have put Dubai on the map.
You have been testing alternative fuels. How soon can we expect to see a transition, given how pioneering the UAE is?
We’re working at pace to make engines take either some renewable fuel or run entirely on it. Current technology allows us to do that with quite minimal changes. The main issue is scale, how much is needed. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) made from biomass feedstock has limits. Nations are talking about ensuring that at least 10 per cent of jet fuel will be SAF by 2030. That might not pass muster with a lot of environmentalists. We don’t produce SAF but we’re embracing everything that can be done to reduce our footprint as quickly as we can.
You fly to more than 140 destinations. Is there still a desire to keep pushing and increase your routes?
We want to expand that network considerably over the next decade or so, with far more fuel-efficient aircraft going forward. We have a clear plan, which will be made clearer in terms of how we expand our fleet and our future purchases. Every continent on the planet will be affected by what we’re going to do.
For more on how Tim Clark is leading one of the UAE’s flag carriers, pick up a copy of ‘The Entrepreneurs’ magazine, featuring our UAE special, which is on newsstands now. And listen to him speak on Monocle Radio’s ‘The Entrepreneurs’.
Chiara Rimella sits down with acclaimed Australian cookbook author Donna Hay to discuss her new cookbook, Even More Basics to Brilliance. Also in the programme: Monocle’s Milan correspondent, Ivan Carvalho, heads to Vidigueira in Portugal to explore a lesser-known wine appellation. Plus: Naomi Xu Elegant attends the World’s 50 Best Bars Awards in Singapore.