The Reut Institute Update on Action and Impact: National Security Team, June 2011

This month we conducted a unique deliberation process at the Jewish Agency for Israel’s (JAFI) 2011 General Assembly and Board of Governors Conference in Jerusalem.

Introduction

This month we conducted a unique deliberation process at the Jewish Agency for Israel's (JAFI) 2011 General Assembly and Board of Governors Conference in Jerusalem. Following a short presentation on the on the assault on Israel's legitimacy - and the challenge in the context of the Palestinian UN campaign - 15 roundtables discussed the role of JAFI in this regard. A similar session was conducted by Reut's Socio-Economic Team on the Israel 15 vision.

JAFI 2011 General Assembly and Board of Governors Conference

Reut was invited to the Jewish Agency for Israel's (JAFI) 2011 General Assembly and Board of Governors Conference at the Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem. We conducted two sessions, one of which focused on the assault on Israel's legitimacy in relation to the Palestinian UN campaign.

Following a short presentation by Eran Shayshon on the issue, 15 roundtable discussions were conducted, each of which was led by two Reut staffers. With participants representing Jewish communities from around the world, Reut's message focused on the notion that the response to delegitimization starts from within. Moreover, with the Palestinian UN campaign set to coincide with the Jewish high holidays and the Durban III Conference, participants were encouraged to view September as an opportunity to re-connect and re-engage their communities with Israel.

The Reut Institute sees JAFI as a central agent in the process of re-engagement between Israel and the Diaspora, particularly as JAFI is uniquely placed as a global organization that has direct access to Jewish communities and organizations all around the world. The conclusion of this event were put into writing by Reut and given to JAFI for review.

Access 20/20 Weekend Follow-Up

The first follow-up webinar to the Reut-AJC ACCESS conference in Washington DC was successfully held. The webinar featured Dr. Mitchell Bard, the Executive Director of the non-profit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE). Dr. Bard presented the Dream Team - an initiative he founded, which gathers experts on campus dynamics to formulate guidelines to confront delegitimization in that arena. Meanwhile, the conference participant network has continued to evolve in a number of online forums that were set up.

The Palestinian Arena - Towards September

In the Palestinian arena, we continued to meet with members of the political, diplomatic, and security establishment, and also key figures of influence from other arenas. We are at the final stages of mapping the vast and complex political-diplomatic terrain ahead of the September UN General Assembly vote on an independent Palestinian state, and the likely Durban III conference taking in New York at the same time. Meanwhile, Ms. Dana Preisler continued a project relating to a major reassessment of Israel's national security and foreign policy doctrine, especially in light of the regional tectonic shifts over the past six months.

Miscellaneous

Eran Shayshon presented Reut's work on assault on Israel's legitimacy to the Deutsch-Israelische Gesellschaft (German-Israeli Society) mission visiting Israel, which included members of parliament, academics, and community leaders. DIG has approximately 5,500 members across Germany.

Media coverage

Our work continues to be frequently cited in the media by mainstream outlets. The most prominent features this month appeared in the New York Times and the Guardian.

  • Thomas Friedman, What to Do with Lemons, The New York Times (6/19/11) - Friedman cited Gidi Grinstein: "September can be a confrontational zero-sum moment with potentially disastrous consequences or a transformative breakthrough, if it is done right," argues Gidi Grinstein, the president of the Reut Institute, one of Israel's top strategy groups. "Israelis and Palestinians are playing chicken. The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank doesn't really want this U.N. resolution, which could unleash populist forces that might overwhelm them. The Israelis know that going all-out to block the Palestinians at the U.N., without any counterproposal, could have enormously damaging consequences in a Middle East already in turmoil. A deal that recognizes the Palestinian state in terms that address Israel's concerns could not only help both sides walk back from the abyss but also pin down a historic two-state solution in 2011."
  • Peter Beaumont, Israel's right to exist does not mean its government can act with impunity, The Guardian (6/10/11) - A critical view of the delegitimization discourse.