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תכניית הכנס זמינה

Panel Discussions

Combat Ethics, Fighting Spirit, and Public Opinion: Complementary or Conflicting?

The extensive public discourse over the past year about the values IDF soldiers should embody when carrying out their missions has been joined by a debate on how the military establishment should enforce the law and bolster IDF values while also supporting and backing the soldiers performing what they have been tasked to do. This controversy involves issues that are part of the basic IDF ethos and affect relations within the army – between commanders and soldiers; and relations outside the army – between the IDF and its commanders and the general public. These issues have a direct impact on IDF performance, civilian resilience, the legitimacy of military activity, and national security. This session will deal with the ethical foundation of IDF policy and the significance of the public debate for the army and Israel’s security. Ethical, legal, historical, and social aspects connected to the issue will be examined. We will also attempt to consider the strategic consequences of the tensions related to these value-based issues that have emerged in Israeli society and the IDF.

Regional Powers in Flux: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey

The Middle East is mired in one of the most severe global crisis since the end of WWII. At the same time, states have weathered the turbulence differently. Some of the countries in the region are in the midst of a prolonged civil war, some have managed to regain    relative stability after a deep internal crisis, some have experienced tumultuous events, and some have remained stable. Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia comprise an important triangle among the stable countries. Iran and Saudi Arabia, however, have witnessed escalating tensions in their bilateral relations, in recent years, and Turkey clearly prefers to avoid choosing sides. While these three powers face difficult respective internal challenges, they will influence events and developments in the region, particularly the course, duration, and outcome of the region’s conflicts.

Israel’s Technological Superiority: Future Directions

Since Israel gained independence and David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, formulated the country’s defense concept, technology has been a principal way to overcome the quantitative gap between the IDF and its enemies. While Israel is regarded as the “startup nation,” and the IDF is recognized as one of the world’s most technological militaries, questions arise about the means Israel should employ to maintain its standing in this aspect – for example, given that Israel now confronts many sub-state enemies that are clearly technologically inferior. This session will examine the future of Israel’s technological military edge, including the role of civilian technology in Israel’s technological superiority; Israel’s reciprocal relations with the US and American companies with respect to weapons procurement, as in the case of the F-35 stealth fighter; the state’s role in maintaining Israel’s standing as a leader in technology; the importance of engagement in other challenging areas, such as outer space; and the role of unmanned technologies in Israel’s technological standing in the civilian and military theaters.

BDS and the Delegitimization Challenge to Israel

The session will discuss BDS and the efforts around the world to delegitimize Israel, and will attempt to characterize the ongoing campaign against Israel’s political and public status in the international theater and its legitimacy as a Jewish and democratic nation. An effort will be made to map the theaters of activity and analyze the campaign’s various dimensions, manifestations, trends, and effects on Israel’s national security and the security of Jewish communities throughout the world. The first part of the session will be devoted to an assessment of the situation, including the main INSS insights on the issue and policy recommendations for action and capability building. The second part will highlight three current perspectives concerning the phenomenon and ways to cope with it: government preparation and activity; the ideological challenge in the framework of a struggle between rival narratives; and a status report on developments in the field on college campuses in the US. The session has two purposes: to present the INSS research activity on delegitimization and BDS; and to enhance the professional and public discourse concerning delegitimization of Israel in the international theater, while pointing out the potential risks it involves and preferred ways of dealing with it, with an emphasis on the importance of continued research on this subject in the long term.

Settlements: Assets or Liabilities?

There are two conflicting approaches in Israeli society concerning the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. One holds that the settlements are the main obstacle to a resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians. The other regards the settlements as an expression of the Jewish people’s right to return to its homeland. The international community is increasingly inclined to accord significant weight to the existence and continued construction in the Jewish settlements as the main obstacle to a two-state solution – more than other core issues. This session will try to consider whether the settlements are in fact the main issue that should be on Israel’s agenda regarding the Palestinian issue. It will also come to grips with questions about the security and civilians aspects related to the settlements by presenting diverse views and perspectives.

Should Israel’s National Security Concept be Revised?

The upheavals in Israel’s strategic environment and the changes in the nature of the conflicts, threats, and enemy actors involved require a reexamination of the national security concept, so that it can help Israel navigate its strategic situation, formulate policy, and devise the correct response to current challenges. The national security concept, which has never been officially published, is an essential element for Israel as it plans its strategy for the coming years. It serves as a conceptual basis for formulating policy in confronting the changes and developments in the global, regional, and internal environment. The session will discuss possible changes to the relative weights assigned to the traditional elements of the security concept and whether new elements should be included; how the change in the nature of the threats should affect the tasks, composition, and character of the IDF; the effect of civilian society on national security; and the addition of “soft” efforts, such as economics, consciousness, lawfare, and other areas, to military power in designing the foundations of Israel’s national security concept.

War without End: The Crisis in Syria and Iraq

The long war that has continued for over a decade in Iraq and the war in Syria, ongoing for nearly six years, have become a regular feature of the Middle East reality. No formula has yet been found for ending the worst humanitarian disaster of the 21st century. The Assad regime and its supporters have won the crucial battle of Aleppo, and the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria continues. There is a new President in the White House, and this will affect the development of the Iraqi and Syrian “syndrome.” This session will attempt to assess how these wars will develop, the dynamic between the global and regional powers, the implications for Israel, and what means and efforts should be made to deal with the possible developments.

In the Eye of the Storm: Voices from the Arab Middle East

In view of the upheaval in the region in recent years, new voices in Israel and the Arab world are emerging, asserting that progress toward peace requires reciprocal rapprochement that starts from a grassroots, bottom-up initiative featuring increasing involvement of civilian society forces. The potential of building civilian bridges between Israelis and their neighbors raises a series of questions, including:

  • Which social organizations in the Arab world are likely to become partners in promoting connections with their counterparts in Israel?

  • Is the Arab world ready for this type of relationship?

  • What opposition and barriers still stand in the way of “normal” civilian relations?

  • To what degree can technological tools, such as the internet and the social networks, make it easier to create informal connections between civilians in the Arab world and Israel?

  • What measures by governments and civilian organizations in Israel and the Arab world are needed to encourage existing civilian connections and the formation of new ones?

The members of the panel, among them civilian social activists from Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority, will address these questions in the framework of a rare civilian Israeli-Arab dialogue.  

Changing Identities in Arab Society in Israel

The 1.7 million Arabs in Israel constitute about one fifth of Israel’s total population. The majority are Muslim, with a small minority Christian and Druze. The issue of "who we are" is an important one in the social discourse in Israel in general and within the Arab community in particular. It is also a sensitive issue in the complex relations between the Jews and Arabs in Israel, as to a great extent it represents the degree of alienation, if not animosity, between the majority and the minority. The session aims to identify and analyze the new perceptions of identity within the Arab society in Israel. We shall try to understand if there is a trend, particularly among the young and educated Arabs, of an identity that centers on their distinct characteristic as Israeli citizens by choice.

From Ideas to Influence: How Think Tanks Can Make an Impact

The most significant challenge for defense and diplomacy think tanks today is addressing trends and developments – both risks and opportunities – under conditions of frequent change in the rules of the game and in the balance of power among international leaders. Researchers who are partners in the work of think tanks must formulate analysis and assessment tools that suit the dynamic changes in technology, traditional media, social media, civil society, and political culture. In a world in which the traditional media and social media rely on simple, catchy messages, the role of policy-oriented think tanks is to provide assessments based on informed analysis and to present policy findings and recommendations that will prove beneficial over time. In this session, directors of think tanks will discuss how to translate research findings into practical recommendations, and consider ways to help expand the influence of think tanks over decision makers and other target audiences.

China: A Rising Power

In 2017 China will be occupied with several major issues, including its internal leadership over the next decade, and decisions taken in the second half of the year will have an immense impact on domestic and international affairs. Like other major actors, China is watching the entry of Donald Trump into the White House with great concern. Tensions in the Pacific Ocean may increase and the global trade and financial markets may witness instability if the new US President translates his campaign rhetoric about China into practice. Israel, continuing to develop close economic ties with China and hoping to strengthen its alliance with the US during the Trump presidency, may be caught in a dilemma as it pursued its relations and interests with these two giants.

The Future of Europe: Security, Economics, and Relations with Russia

In the past year Europe endured multiple interconnected crises in the spheres of security, politics, and economics. These crises strained European unity and prompted questions over the future of the European Union. In parallel, relations with Russia have deteriorated, contributing to the difficulty of resolving these same crises. Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections added yet another layer of complexity, due to his controversial statements questioning US commitments to European security. This nexus of acute challenges raises several questions: How would Trump’s attitudes affect European security? Would the EU endure the new pressures and stresses? Will there be a wave of electoral victories in Europe resonating of Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory? And how would Russia fit in with the new European order?

Security in an Age of Instability

In recent years, decision makers who deal with defense policy have had to cope with new challenges, as well as changes in the primary characteristics of familiar challenges. The upheavals and instability in various global arenas require particular awareness of the changes underway, and the need to formulate an adequate response - sometimes through new and innovative means - whose impact is not always clear in advance. The challenges currently facing decision makers include: the threat of global terrorism, threats along borders, the need to handle waves of migration and refugees, the rise of non-state actors, and changes in the rules of the game. Another challenge is the increased use of social media, which enables more powerful and immediate civilian involvement and popular criticism than in the past. In this session, leaders and decision makers from abroad will share what they have learned from dealing with existing and developing challenges, along with their thoughts on courses of action that are applicable to Israel's strategic environment.

Making the Relationship Great Again? United States–Israel Ties under the Trump Administration

2017 brings with it a new US President who promises a new policy in international affairs. He and the new Secretaries of Defense and State will have to rebuild American leadership and deterrence in global affairs and in regions around the world. One such region is the Middle East, where the decline of US involvement and influence has had many negative ramifications. The new US President will have to review the policies regarding Russia and its behavior in Europe and the Middle East. His tough stance on China during the campaign, and his identification of the Islamic State and the nuclear deal with Iran as the major problems in the Middle East, will be juxtaposed with his actions as President. The US conduct on these issues and its approach toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have a major impact on Israel's strategic balance, which underscores the need for a renewed genuine strategic dialogue between the two nations.

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