Shimon Peres, the 91-year-old former Israeli president, may not be the most obvious social media fanatic. Yet in 2014 he opened an account on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Facebook, expressing his desire to interact directly with the Chinese people, including its younger generation. The nonagenarian quickly received over 50 million ‘likes’ on his Weibo page.
This symbolises a wider cultural and economic shift. For decades, Israel’s political elite has made much of the nation’s natural affinity with the US and the influential Jewish community there. That umbilical cord to the world’s most powerful nation that has fertilised Israel’s tech and start-up community remains intact. But in recent years, as western pressure and sanctions have been exerted on Israel over its conflict with Palestine, it has turned its sights to the East, where Asian jurisdictions have taken a less judgemental line on its political and military stance.