Updates
SIGNAL Note 64: “Indispensable Netanyahu”- The Israeli prime minister’s diplomatic role has overriding importance for American and world security

After 13 years in office, Benjamin Netanyahu has served long enough to have rankled every Israeli I know. He faces a difficult election on September 17, after failing to form a coalition government following a national election earlier this year. As an American, I avoid taking a view on Israeli politics, but this is a special situation in which Netanyahu’s diplomatic role has overriding importance for American and world security. I have argued since 2009 that the United States has a narrow but important set of common interests with Russia in the Middle East. Thanks in large part to Netanyahu, security cooperation seems effective.

No other world leader could have convened, as Netanyahu did June 25, a meeting of Russia’s national security adviser Nicolai Petrushev and American NSA John Bolton. Speaking in Jerusalem, Petrushev declared, “We pay special attention to ensuring Israel’s security,” calling it “a special interest of ours because here in Israel live a little less than about two million of our countrymen.” He added, “Israel supports us in several channels, including at the UN.”

SIGNAL Note 63: Reflecting On Moroccan Sense Of Tolerance

Morocco is not a fully-fledged democracy, as is the case in the West, but incrementally the country, is slowly but surely, moving in that direction. As a matter of fact, the constitution of 2011 has opened the door to the devolution of power and has strengthened the diverse identity of the Moroccan individual: he is Arab, Muslim, Amazigh, Jewish, African and Mediterranean.

Tolerance
Tolerance has been through centuries a way of life of the country and is the second nature of Moroccans, not to say that it is probably part of their DNA. Jews arrived in the country in the year 71 AD after the destruction of their second temple by the Romans. They were well received by the Amazigh/Berber native people and they quickly melted into their social fabric for two reasons: firstly, because they were tribal and secondly they shared in the trait of a strong matriarchal system.

The Jews, though a minority, managed to convert some of the Amazigh/Berber people to Judaism from paganism without obliterating their strong pagan beliefs such as practices linked to agricultural rites of fertility, which even Islam was not able to get rid of.

While the Amazigh/Berber concentrated their efforts on agriculture, cattle-raising and animal husbandry, the Jews developed commerce, trade and early banking practices, a tradition that was to continue for centuries until their departure to Israel starting in the fifties of the twentieth century, after the creation of the Jewish State in Palestine in 1948.

Teaching Israelis about China

On May 31, 2018, the Jerusalem Post published Teaching Israelis about China based on a survey conducted in 2017 investigating The attitudes and perceptions of Israeli’s towards China, its people, and the Belt & Road Initiative. Led by SIGNAL, the project is the first of its kind conducted in Israel. The study was funded by China’s Ministry of Education and was initiated by SIGNAL Fellow, Dr. Li Wei, faculty and Research Fellow at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies (IMES) at Northwest University in central China where SIGNAL has had an Israel studies Program since 2013.

SIGNAL’s 2nd Annual Conference on Israel’s China Policy

On Dec 26, 2017, SIGNAL, in cooperation with the Institute for Policy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya and the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, held its 2nd annual conference on Israel’s China Policy. This year’s conference, “China on the World Stage – Strategic Implications for Israel,” provided a forum for discussing China’s “New Era” and the Middle Kingdom’s engagement in the turbulent Middle East.

The conference was divided into two sections, a closed, morning session that simulated conflict between the US and North Korea, and afternoon round-table styled discussions open to the general public, conducted for an overflow crowd. The 4-hour, morning simulation included over a dozen scholars and experts from Israeli and Chinese think tanks, former diplomats and retired military personnel who represented the USA, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Israel, Japan and South Korea. North Korea’s representation included former Mossad director Efraim Halevy and former Chinese representative to the 6 Party Talks, Mr. Yang Xiyu.

SIGNAL Perspectives 2

This issue of SIGNAL Perspectives, by SIGNAL Executive Director Carice Witte and SIGNAL Academic Advisor Dr. Aryeh Tepper, is entitled ‘Understanding How Culture and History Impact China’s International Relations: The Case of the South China Sea’. The piece highlights the value of cultural sensitivity in dealings with China. It employs the case study of the West’s handling of the South China Sea incident to insightfully highlight the role China’s cultural and historical makeup play in forming its foreign policy. The essay demonstrates how the Israeli leadership can learn from the West’s mistakes when dealing with the Middle Kingdom, and strive to better understand China in order to maximize the potential of the developing relations between the two countries.

SIGNAL Perspectives

In late 2016, SIGNAL Perspectives began to publish research and geopolitical analyses from a Chinese perspective. Whereas most papers published by research centers and institutes in Israel present the issues from an American or European viewpoint, or discuss how current events affect Israel and the EU or USA, SIGNAL Perspectives looks at the same topics from a Chinese vantage point. As China has risen to become a global power, we saw a pressing need to ask how geopolitical developments and events impact China as well as Israel.

SIGNAL Perspectives, published in both English and Chinese, are written by SIGNAL researchers, fellows, and commissioned scholars, focusing on geopolitical issues which are relevant to China or China-Israel relations. The Perspectives series is a crucial new element of SIGNAL’s multidimensional approach to understanding regional and global developments pertaining to China and Israel.

FTP 2016

The 6th annual SIGNAL Faculty Training Program (FTP) saw the arrival of academics from five universities in Yunnan, Henan, Shaanxi, Beijing and Shanghai. The Program offers a Fellowship to faculty from Chinese universities with Israel Studies Programs established in cooperation with SIGNAL. The FTP Fellows spend a full semester studying in Israel. The Program aims to provide the Fellows with a comprehensive understanding of the modern state of Israel and its history.

The 6th cohort participated in a rigorous curriculum, attending lecture series and workshops. The program is headed by Dr Paula Kabalo, a leading world scholar on Israel Studies who heads the Ben Gurion Research Insititute for the Study of Israel and Zionism at the Sde Boker campus. The Fellows take classes directly from Dr. Kabalo and enjoy her academic supervision throughout their studies.

Grand Prize Announcement

SIGNAL is pleased to announce the winners of the Inaugural Grand Prize for the National Level of the Israel Studies Research Paper Competition 2016.

The winners are:

Mr. Yang Yulong, PhD Candidate of Northwest University (NWU) with the paper on “Analysing The Al-Farhud Event and the Extremization of Inter-Ethnic Relations between Arabs and Jews in Iraq” and

Ms. Fan Xinzhu, MA Candidate of Sichuan International Studies University (SISU) with the paper on “Israel’s Anti-Terrorism Mechanism.”

SIGNAL launches its China-Israel Belt & Road Delegation series

The first in SIGNAL’s China-Israel Belt-& Road Delegation series was launched with the China-Israel Belt & Road Seminar Week held from October 30th to November 3rd in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.The purpose of the series is to provide a forum where Israeli expertise could be offered to advance the success of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). By bringing Chinese BRI scholars, experts and practitioners to Israel to witness Israeli innovation first hand and experience the Start-Up-Nation up close and personal, SIGNAL aims to increase opportunities for cooperation on BRI projects. As a mega-investment program, BRI involves undertaking massive infrastructure investment along the route of the old Silk Road. Due to the complex nature of the program, there are many areas in which Israeli expertise could make a useful contribution towards the successful implementation of the initiative.

Since its founding six years ago, SIGNAL has tirelessly engaged with the upper echelon of research institutions in China to advance policy development that is reciprocally beneficial and sensitive to the context of both countries. In recognition of the centrality and success of its efforts in bolstering ties between China and Israel, the Silk Road Think Tank Association selected SIGNAL as its sole representative in Israel. With the China-Israel Belt & Road Delegation series SIGNAL is acting in this capacity to promote cooperation between China and Israel in the development of the Silk Road trade routes.

The leaders from key Party institutions participating in the delegation were Deputy Director General of the China Center for Contemporary World Studies (CCCWS), Section Chief of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Deputy Publisher and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of China Investment Magazine, NDRC, Director of Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Liaison Discipline Inspector of the International Department of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and a senior representative of the International Department at CCDI.

Senior SIGNAL Fellow Prof. Meron Medzini Receives Japanese Decorations in Recognition of Research Contributions

On November 3, 2016, senior SIGNAL fellow, Professor Meron Medzini of Hebrew University was honored to receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays and Neck ribbon decorations from the Japanese government. The decoration was awarded in recognition of his contribution to the development of Japanese studies and the promotion of the understanding of Japan in Israel.

Upon receiving the award, the eminent academic expressed his honor and stated that he sees this as “a recognition by the government and people of Japan of the work those of us involved in teaching and researching about Japan have carried out over the years.” Professor Medzini also added, “I am very pleased that our modest contribution is being recognized in this manner.”

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