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

Asian Studies Programs in Israeli universities, Bridging the Cultural Divide

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.

SIGNAL Note 27

The Volcani Center: facilitating closer Sino-Israeli agricultural partnerships

Rising global demand on agricultural production is generating innovative and ecologically friendly solutions to the age-old issues of increasing production and efficiency in resource management. Israel’s the Volcani Center has become an international hub for this cutting edge agricultural research. By providing a pipeline for creative products, technologies and algorithms to help alleviate resource waste while increasing production, Israeli agricultural developments are helping end global strife and revitalizing farming practices across the world. To give context to how the Volcani Center’s innovations can continue to impact China and the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), SIGNAL Note 27 will focus on the potential for expanded agricultural cooperation between Beijing and Jerusalem.

Through the conduit of the Volcani Center, the research arm of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, Israeli advancements are increasing crop production while lessening waste and inefficiency in fertilizer distribution, irrigation and pest control techniques. Israel brings to the global market technological innovations. This essay aims to draw clear connections between the these innovations and the major projects across China and the countries participating in the BRI. SIGNAL Note 27 will illuminate how the prospects for a more comprehensive Sino-Israeli exchange can be fostered through the development of Israeli agricultural technologies.

SIGNAL Note 26

WannaCry May 2017 Cyber Attack: How Israel Survived

The World’s Biggest ever Cyber Attack
On Friday 12th of May 2017 unknown hackers set about executing the world’s largest ever cyber-attack. The attack, known as “WannaCry,”used ‘ransomware’ to paralyze more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries, including those that run Britain’s hospital network, Germany’s national railway and other companies and government agencies worldwide, in was the biggest online extortion scheme ever.

In China, more than 29,000 institutions were hit across the country. Universities and educational institutions were among the hardest hit, numbering 4,341, or about 15 percent of internet protocol addresses attacked. Also affected were railway stations, mail delivery, gas stations, hospitals, office buildings, shopping malls and government services. Among the victims of the attack was PetroChina, whose system was hit by the virus which disabled the ability for customers to pay with cards.

SIGNAL Note 25

25 Years of formal relations between Israel & China

Shared history and mutually vested economic interests facilitate the creation of deep bilateral ties. In the case of the Sino-Israeli dynamic, the past 25 years of formal diplomatic ties have seen the realization of both cultural and economic exchange expand exponentially. To highlight just how far and expansive cooperation between Beijing and Jerusalem have come in our brief official relationship, this SIGNAL Note will look back on 25 years of diplomatic relations, and the potential impact Sino-Israeli collaboration could have on the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

Reflecting the nature of the Sino-Israeli exchange, a notable development has been the important technological advancements and investments from Israeli startups into the Chinese market. Another reflection of advancing relations between the Jewish State and the Middle Kingdom are academic cooperation, high level diplomatic interactions and the economic & technological complementarity of the Israeli and Chinese systems. In line with the core aims of the SIGNAL Note series, we will expound upon the strategic role Israeli experts and exports could play in the implementation of the BRI and Chinese domestic goals as outlined in the 13th 5-year plan.

In essences this SIGNAL Note 25 aims to commemorate 25 years of formal diplomatic ties between the Israel and China and reflect upon the impact these ties could have on the advancement of China’s broader international policy projections and investments.

SIGNAL Note 24

Israel’s innovative FinTech and its applications within the BRI


China is changing the global economic landscape in terms of sheer foreign direct investment (FDI) and infrastructural development. In the context of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), financial integration, unimpeded trade and policy coordination have proven essential in expanding international markets and building new systems of finance. To reach the impressive aims of the BRI various technologies, algorithms, and innovative approaches developed within the Israeli FinTech Startup community could be game changing as the PRC pursues the “Chinese Dream” towards a moderately prosperous society. As China spurs financial growth and institutional expansion within Asia and the Middle East, the implementation of Israeli originated Financial Technologies (FinTech) could dramatically impact millions of individuals and thousands of corporations in regards to increased financial accessibility and economic development.

Aiming to support the broader policy aims of the BRI, Israeli FinTech solutions could alleviate many complex financial issues already facing the massive Belt & Road projects across the globe. Giving credence to the complementarity of Israeli FinTech and Chinese policy directives, this SIGNAL note will briefly explain the diverse range of FinTech applications within the BRI. We will outline the core aims of FinTech while highlighting market ready solutions to these sectors found in the Israel’s Silicon Wadi.

Additionally, as a result of the consistent requests for more information on the topics addressed in the SIGNAL Note we will now add a section of additional resources to give readers greater depth on the assortment of technologies and innovations covered within (look for these links at the end of the Note) as well as a selection of recent SIGNAL Publications now accessible on the SIGNAL website.

SIGNAL Note 23

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits China, marking 25 years of formal relations

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was invited by President Xi Jinping to Beijing to mark 25 years of formal diplomatic relations between Israel and China. This March 2017 trip was PM Netanyahu’s second official visit to China during President Xi’s tenure. The delegation’s primary focus was trade and at its core was the third meeting of the China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation and Cooperation (JCIC). The visit provided both countries with the opportunity to further broaden bilateral relations by expanding the foundations for economic cooperation and building diplomatic capital. More specifically, the events of PM Netanyahu’s trip to Beijing encouraged Chinese investment in Israel and further opened the door for more diverse Israeli investment in the Chinese market. In addition, the visit advanced the ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) discussions between China and Israel – another round of FTA negotiations will take place in July.

The visit was significant in a variety of ways beyond mutual economic development. It illustrated Israel’s appreciation and respect for China’s top-down approach to business and commerce as a reflection of Chinese culture and history. This was understood to be the diametric opposite of Israel’s bottom-up business culture where individual companies, businesses and corporations act independently from the government including in international business. With Chinese companies seeking approval from both their own government and that of the country where they want to do business, Israel sought to create a framework to suit their needs.

SIGNAL Note 22

Israel’s BIG Data Technology for the Belt & Road

Israel’s ‘Big Data’ startup scene can provide practical solutions to China’s data analysis needs as it crosses China and goes outward on the Belt & Road towards Central Asia and the Middle East. The Big Data technology now being developed in Israel can contribute to decreasing investment risk by providing a more comprehensive understanding of the elements which impact global markets, primarily in the domains of shipping/tracking and infrastructural support systems. The synergy of big data cutting edge technology from Israel and China’s growing maritime and land transport will surely bring win-win cooperation while strengthening Sino-Israeli ties.

‘Big Data’ is the term coined to define the utilization of an increasingly large digital footprint left by individuals and transactions to understand a causation of market shifts. Using Big Data can help predict connections between inputs and outcomes in economic, technological or agricultural mediums. The possibilities for Big Data analytics have only recently become a reality through mega processors and highly advanced computer systems. Big Data analysis offers the possibility of mitigating many of the complex issues arising in China’s broader BRI strategy, from irrigation solutions to security management to an array of approaches in dealing with long-standing transport interconnectivity issues.

SIGNAL Note 21

“Strategic Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean” conference hosted the Begin-Sadat Center (BESA) & B’nai B’rith International

The Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) aims to bring a tangible economic catalyst to hundreds of millions of people from Asia to Africa and beyond. Through strong policy coordination and facilities connectivity, the BRI has potential to bring vast areas of the world together by creating critical people to people networks. For this ‘Chinese Dream’ to become a reality, the PRC must possess an astute understanding of volatile regions covered in the BRI. In creating a comprehensive strategy to mitigate the evolving security demands of the modern-day Silk Road, China must rely on regional partners, and battle tested experience to direct pragmatic policy. With the insight of invested regional partners, China can decrease investment risk, stabilize energy markets and enhance security.

In this vein, SIGNAL Note 21 will focus on the innovative and authoritative approaches to Middle East stability coming out of Israel’s premier research institutes. In connecting the world renown security expertise of Israel with the multifaceted security threats being faced across the BRI we intend to illustrate how closer Sino-Israel bonds could benefit China. To highlight the value Israel brings to the global security discussion, SIGNAL Note 21 will touch upon the important ideas and insights offered during the Feb 21, 2017, conference on “Strategic Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean” hosted the Begin-Sadat Center (BESA) along with B’nai B’rith International.

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The SIGNAL Note is a Chinese-English publication by SIGNAL's researchers on Israel and the Belt & Road Initiative.