Acronym Central: Poli LCE visits MFA!
If you’ve been following us on Twitter or Facebook, you may have seen that this past Monday, Poli LCE engaged in a site visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem followed by a tour of the Old City.
During our trip to the Ministry, we participated in a series of presentations and question-and-answer sessions on modern diplomacy, the Arab Spring and political communication strategies, respectively.
In the second discussion, Ms. Eynat Shlein-Michael, Head of the International Affairs Bureau in the MFA Policy Research Center, characterized this past year’s events in the region not as a “Spring,” but rather as the “Arab Storm” or the “Middle East Turmoil.”
Given that this turmoil has taken place in countries in such close proximity to Israel, it goes without saying that Israel will feel some of the ramifications. However, Ms. Shlein-Michael pointed out, Israel did not precipitate the conflicts that gave rise to the Arab Spring, and more importantly, has not been ascribed responsibility for them by other states, and the effect that Israel can have on how events continue to unfold is limited.
“For once,” she stated, “it’s not about us.”
While there are benefits to not being perceived as an instigator, this state of affairs has had the interesting effect of leaving some Israelis feeling disconcerted.
Ms. Shlein-Michael identified Islamists as the “biggest winners” in this Middle East turmoil, citing their clear message and the infrastructure they had cultivated for brand or “face” recognition as key components of their success. Meanwhile, she called liberals in each Arab Spring country the “biggest losers,” who, lacking unity and organization, a common message and face recognition by the broader population, were marginalized and pushed aside. Women and minorities, too, she noted, had fared poorly.
For the Ministry’s presentations and the tour that followed, Poli LCE was joined by another MA program in the Tel Aviv University political science department, Security and Diplomacy, and students in both programs raised questions regarding the relative stability of the current regimes in such places as Lebanon, the West Bank and Bahrain.
From a Leadership, Communication and Elections perspective, the day was full of relevant conversations. The following session was a closed discussion, so all I can really tell you is that it concerned strategies for successful political communication. You’ll have to be a part of the program if you want to learn what that’s all about!
Our tour of the Old City took us through classic sites of geopolitical and religious conflict and cooperation. The juxtaposition of the morning’s contemporary lessons with the afternoon’s historic window into some of the same subjects was striking.
Poli LCE and Security and Diplomacy students pause for a picture at the Roman Cardo in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Poli LCE students at the Ministry! Practicing for their turns at the podium?