Tel Aviv’s science diplomacy; instruments, goals

Alwaght- The goals that the Israeli officials have so far sought to realize by taking a set of public diplomacy steps include the attempts to gain prestige among the global scientific elites, getting close to the Arab states and normalizing the diplomatic relations with them, launching scientific projects and facilitating scientific give and takes between the Palestinians and the Israelis in a bid to develop a compromising morale for the Palestinians, changing the view of the non-Zionist Jewry and also non-Jewish people of the European countries on the Israeli regime and finally covering the warmongering and militaristic face of Tel Aviv and portraying a democratic picture of the Israeli regime.

To reach its goals, the Israeli regime uses a variety of instruments and institutions which include:

Organizing trips for global Jewry to the Israeli regime under science tours

One of the very interesting policies of Tel Aviv is introducing itself to the world especially to the Jewish people living in other countries, holding research and scientific seminars, and arranging science tours in the occupied Palestinian territories.

One of the institutions that organizes this kind of tours is Taglit-Birthright Israel organization. Taglit-Birthright Israel is one of the world’s largest educational travelling organizations. The Israeli daily of Haaretz in an interview with the Secretary-general of the Jewish Agency for Israel Alan Huffman in 2014 revealed that Tel Aviv government pays one third of the costs of this educational travelling organization. Taglit-Birthright Israel so far organized science tours to the Israeli regime from 66 global countries.

The very eye-catching point about these tours is that according to Haaretz 80 percent of the travelers who visited the Israeli regime are Jewish people from Canada and the US. During the trips the organization arranges courses about renewable energy sources, desert ecosystem, terrorism, the Middle East, and the international situation.

Using the science diplomacy, the Israeli regime paves the way for travelling of the elites and those interested in different sciences and modern technologies to the occupied territories. The tours aim at presenting the Israeli regime as a democratic, peace-seeking, and developed state to the Arab and non-Arab researchers.


Normalization through research centers

The process of the diplomatic normalization between the Israeli regime and the Arab states could be simplified within three stages.

First stage includes acceptance and holding secret security and political relations. Second, normalization of the relations among the elites of both sides and painting it as necessary for the society. The third and the most significant part of the normalization process is the social desensitization. Publicizing the ties of the political officials and scientific figures of the Arab world with those from the Israeli regime is a scenario that indicates the depth of relations between the two sides. The media focus given to it and the different reactions it receives from different sides and also its repetition for the Arab audience would lead to the desensitization. To do so, Tel Aviv makes efforts to proceed through work of the scientific institutes.


– Middle East Regional Cooperation program (MERC)

One of the measures taken for desensitization is holding scientific meetings, and launching joint research projects between the Jewish people and the Arabs. Due to big aversion to the Israeli regime in West Asia region, Tel Aviv followed making scientific links between the Israelis and the Arabs in the 1990s through the a program by the US Agency for International Development dubbed Middle East Regional Cooperation program.

As the time went by, the US mediation between the Arab and Israeli researchers was removed. Meanwhile, Tel Aviv offered scholarships, founded laboratories, and launched agricultural and health research projects as part of it science diplomacy in a bid to reduce social sensitivity in the Arab world.

The website which belongs to the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy in a note in 2013 shed light on the measures of MERC for closeness of the Palestinians and the Israelis. Referring to the efforts made, the website suggested that science diplomacy presented a good chance for closeness of the two conflicting sides of the Palestinian cause. The note names at least 37 joint active projects in energy sector between the Israeli and Palestinian researchers, as well as forming a research group on skin diseases in West Bank, admitting non-Israeli students for laboratory research courses, building laboratories in the West Bank, and organizing scientific courses in agricultural studies for the Palestinian students in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


– University Institute for Diplomacy and Regional Cooperation (UIDRC)

Still another measure by the Israeli regime for preparing the grounds for scientific links between the Arabs and the Israelis is founding the University Institute for Diplomacy and Regional Cooperation. The institute is a department of the Social Science College of Tel Aviv University, and operates as a coordinating body between different universities. After 2000, the institute has become very active and organized a series of meetings under the titles of ” Israeli-Jordanian Projects: Past Experiences and The Future Outlooks” and “Palestinian-Israeli Economic Relations: Past Experiences and Future Outlooks”, attended by researchers from the Arab world. Furthermore, the institute since 2003 has been holding an annual conference with presence of the Arab pundits.

The technological and scientific developments of the Israeli regime in recent years provided Tel Aviv with the chance to target with its science diplomacy some beliefs and views of the Palestinians, neighboring Muslim countries, and the Jewry living out of the occupied territories by operating science tours, launching joint projects, and holding scientific conferences.

The Israeli regime has created a diversity of instruments to implement its science diplomacy. The Taglit-Birthright Israel, the MERC program, and also the UIDRC department in Tel Aviv University are the most notable tools of Tel Aviv for running its science diplomacy.

By Al Waght