Publications
SIGNAL Note 30

The Herzliya Conference – An Opportunity for the BRI in the Middle East

The Herzliya Conference (HC) is Israel’s premier policy event dealing with national, regional and global Western geopolitics. China and the BRI would benefit from having an increased presence at the HC. Throughout its seventeen-year history, the HC has addressed the most vital and strategically relevant regional issues from Arab Spring to ISIS, from US-Israel relations to waning US presence in the Middle East to discussing solutions to strife and refugees, regional instability and broader economic cooperation.

In recent years the HC has focused on global issues regarding the US, EU, NATO States such as rising global terror and multilateral economic development. The HC has been the epicenter of debate on globally significant issues from ‘Emerging Economic and Strategic Trends’, ‘The Age of Permanent Technological Revolution’ to domestic matters such as “Economic Resilience, Inequality and Public Corruption’ and ‘Personal Security and National Resistance.’

The annual conference continues to serve as an essential forum for debate and discussion in Israel on such topics as national identity politics, trade relations with Europe and the developing national energy sector. The HC has been extensively covered in Israeli and international media as it often hosts western leaders such as United States Former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger (2016) and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon (2012) (pictured left) to British Prime Minister Tony Blair (2017) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (2009) diplomats such as Amb. Bilahari Kausikan (2011) and Amb. Robert Hutchings, Former Director of the US National Intelligence Council (NIC); Dean, LBJ School of Public Affairs (2015) as well as globally security experts such as Nicola de Santis, Head, Middle East and North Africa Section, Political Affairs and Security Policy Division, NATO (2017) and Amos Hochstein, Former Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs at the U.S. Department of State (2017). The HC has become the venue for major Israeli strategic speeches and a focal point for influential voices to broadly engage with the Israeli public.’

SIGNAL Note 29

Modi in Israel: A new era for Indo-Israeli Relations

Hindu-Jewish affinity

Each year, over 60,000 Israelis travel to India –many of them “unwinding” in the country after completing military service. Their presence is highly visible across much of the country. Indeed, the “giant shadow” Israelis cast in India is wildly disproportionate to the miniscule dimensions of their homeland. In some outlying locations, Israelis comprise a dominant percentage of foreign visitors. Even in central sites such as the main market in Old Delhi it is not uncommon to see Hebrew signs and encounter merchants able to converse with Israeli customers in fairly fluent Hebrew.

That Israelis seem to feel an instinctive affinity for India should perhaps not be surprising. Its history is virtually devoid of antisemitism. Indeed, the only significant incidents were the Moors’ attack on the Jews in 1524 and the Portuguese persecution of Jews in Cranganore (now the Kerala coast) some years later. Moreover, many Indian Jews achieved great prominence, among them the Sassoons (for whom the Sassoon docks, the Sassoon hospital, and other well-known sites have been named), Dr. E. Moses (a Jewish mayor of Bombay), Lt. Gen. J. F. R. Jacobs (a general in the Indian Army who oversaw the Pakistani Army’s 1971 surrender in Bangladesh and later served as governor of Goa and Punjab), Nissim Ezekiel (a poet/leading Indian literary personality), and Dr. Abraham Solomon Erulkar (the personal physician/friend of Mahatma Gandhi).

SIGNAL Note 28

China recognizes that cultural communication is part and parcel to successful economic relations and so encourages area studies. China’s Ministry of Education recently implemented a program to establish Middle East Study Centers at universities to encourage deeper understanding of the countries in that region. Likewise, the field of Asian Studies in Israel has grown exponentially over the past five years.

The field of Asian Studies within the Israeli university system represents a critical vehicle to broaden Israel’s understanding of countries in the Orient. The most popular and fastest growing nation study within Asian Studies Programs is Chinese Studies. The strong interest by Israel’s youth to connect to China is revealed in the growth of the Chinese Studies departments at Israel’s universities. The study of China is the fastest growing field in the humanities, doubling in matriculation year on year over the past few years. Students seek a cultural, historic and linguistic understanding that is essential for building lasting connections with China. The area study contributes to students developing a more comprehensive worldview while enhancing Sino-Israeli bonds and laying the foundation for more comprehensive cooperation in the future.

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