Indonesia and Israel to Ally on Cyber-war?

They may not have diplomatic relations but a rep of the Indonesian Security Council was spotted at the Homeland Security conference in Tel Aviv this week.

Yair Mohr
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Yair Mohr

Israel and Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, may not have diplomatic relations but they could yet develop an intense cyber-relationship. Who came to a Homeland Security conference held in Tel Aviv this week? A representative of the highest Security Council of Indonesia, which is responsible, among other things, for building the nation's cyber protection and warfare infrastructure, that's who.

The Indonesian official, a guest of Ramzi Gabbay, chairman of the Israeli Export Institute (an arm of the Ministry of Industry and Trade), roamed the conference without a badge, though other attendees had them.

Gabbay has been working on forging alliances between Israel and Indonesia: and a delegation from Indonesia is expected to visit Israel soon.

While Israel and Indonesia have never had diplomatic relations, there is trade between the nations, amounting to $750 million in 2008 and $450 million in 2009, the last year for which figures are available.

In 2009, the two nations established the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, under the auspices of the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce. The Israel-Indonesia chamber is headed by Emanuel Shahaf, a former Israeli diplomat and CEO of the firm Technology Asia Consulting.

What ties Israel and Indonesia do have are reportedly the brainchild of Abdurrahman Wahid, better known as Gus Dur, who was the president of Indonesia from October 20, 1999 to July 23, 2001, when he was ousted on suspicions of corruption. According to Ehud Gonen, former Israeli trade attaché in Singapore, Wahid was also a member of the Peres Center for Peace. In 2001 he issued a directive repealing the ban on business between Indonesian and Israeli companies.

Elementary school children take apart in exercises in Indonesia, which doesn't have diplomatic relations with Israel. Credit: Reuters

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