December 4, 2007: Israel and the Other Great Powers: Europe, Russia and China
Israel’s close ties to the United States obscure the fact that Israel also has important relations with the other major powers of the 21st century: Europe, Russia and China. Israel’s bilateral relations with each of them encompass significant political dialogue, large-scale trade and investments and important scientific cooperation. Russia and Europe are directly involved in the negotiations over the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Israel’s relations with China are the cornerstone of Israeli diplomacy in Asia.
Specialists in the history and politics of each of the Great Powers will survey the past, present and future ofIsrael’s relations with them.
Prof. Eli Barnavi, the Henri Glasberg Professor of European Early Modern History at Tel Aviv University(emeritus) and author of A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People, will discuss the complex relationship between Israel and Europe since the 1980 Venice Declaration, assess the current state of affairs and will provide a glance into the future. Barnavi is also Scientific Advisor to the Museum of Europe, Brussels, a Board member of the EU-Israel Forum and Israel’s former Ambassador to France.
Prof. Gabriel Gorodetsky, Director of the Cummings Center for Russian Studies at Tel Aviv University, will examine whether Russia has any inherent interests in the Middle East or whether its genuine interests lie in the border lands--notably in the crescent running from the Black Sea littoral through the Caucasus and Iranto China. The Soviet support for the creation of the State of Israel in 1947 will be examined against this backdrop. Thorough research of the Russian archival sources, by Prof. Gorodetsky, author of Grand Delusion: Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia, provide an insight to this pattern, characterizing Israeli-Russian relations from their inception to the present day.
Prof. Aron Shai, the Shoul N. Eisenberg Professor East Asian Affairs at Tel-Aviv University and a Schusterman Visiting scholar at NYU, will describe the historical background of Sino-Israeli relations over the past 60 years, analyze the state of the current bi-lateral relations and offer insights on the China-US-Israel diplomatic triangle. Among the questions Shai, author of Britain and China, 1941-47: Imperial Momentum, will consider are: What is China's view of the international arena at the moment and what role is it likely to play in light of the emerging struggle over raw materials? Will the United States alter its traditional commitment towards Israel's future economic and strategic needs in response to the rising challenges fromEast Asia? Should Jerusalem reconsider its overall China policy?
April 1, 2008: Israel and the New New Middle East
The notion of a “New” Middle East, which came to fruition in the 1990s, signified an expectation of a positive transformation in the region. The optimism was generated by the end of the Cold War andAmerica’s triumph in the first Gulf War. But this perspective has since been replaced by the gloomy mood of the current decade. Profound changes—the rise of Iranian power, the return of an Islamist Turkey to an active role in the Middle East, the fundamentalist challenge, the decline of U.S. prestige and influence, and the Arab-Israeli stalemate—are shaping a “New New” Middle East. Observers contend developments call for fresh Israeli thinking about Israel’s place and role in the region and in the international arena. The impending end of the Bush presidency and the U.S. presidential elections give these developments a particular edge.
Former Israeli ambassador to the United States and chief negotiator with Syria under Prime MinisterYitzhak Rabin, Itamar Rabinovich served as the president of Tel Aviv University from 1999 to 2007. He has also been the university’s director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies and its Dean of the Humanities as well as Rector of the University. Dr. Rabinovich has authored several books, including Syria Under the Ba’ath; The War for Lebanon; The Road Not Taken: Early Arab-Israeli Negotiations; The Brink of Peace: Israel and Syria; and Waging Peace: Israel and the Arabs at the End of the Century.