Jewish Political Studies Review 16:3-4 (Fall 2004)
Foundations of an Israeli Grand Strategy
toward the European Union
Israel urgently needs a grand strategy toward the European Union. This
is all the more so because the two parties disagree profoundly on fundamental
issues and seriously misperceive each other. Israel has many
strategic assets that it can use to improve its political and security
relations with the European Union, but without a high-quality grand
strategy these cannot be employed effectively. A first step is to dispel
Israeli misperceptions about the European Union; more difficult is to
cope with the deep disagreements and with the European Union's misperceptions.
Seventeen principles can help Israel craft a grand strategy
toward the European Union, in conjunction with additional grand strategies
that Israel needs to formulate no less urgently.
Crafting Israeli Grand Strategies
Israeli statecraft has had many successes, including the future-shaping,
fateful decisions to declare the state's independence, to build the
Dimona nuclear reactor, to legislate and implement the Law of Return,
and others. In some domains Israel has also developed effective grand
strategies, such as ensuring that at least one major power supports Israel and others do not actively oppose it. After the demise of security
cooperation with France, this led to the special relationship with the
However, in important respects Israel has been weak in developing
long-term and holistic grand strategies.1 Reasons, to mention just a
few, include the pressure of current events, the strength of ideological
thinking, dogma-caused misperceptions of reality,2 and the chain of
successes culminating in the Six-Day War, which seemed to make
deeper policy thinking unnecessary.
The lack of adequate grand strategies has been glaring in regard
to settlement policy in the territories that came under Israeli
rule following the Six-Day War, policies toward the non-Jewish
minorities in Israel, and policies toward the Palestinian population
of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Weaknesses in grand strategic thinking
are also evident in policies toward Europe, as illustrated by
the lack of efforts to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD) at times when this was easily
possible, and nowadays by inadequate policies toward the European
The lack of a grand strategy toward the European Union is a
serious omission that could easily carry a high cost for Israel's international
standing and security, and also damage Israel's scientific-technological
and economic development. Israel's responsibilities as the state
of the Jewish people in acting against anti-Semitism in Europe and
its complex relations with Jewish communities in EU countries only
enhance the need for a carefully crafted grand strategy toward the
The need for more and better grand strategies is also pronounced
in the European Union itself, as illustrated by its nondecisions on
Turkey joining the Union3 and by weaknesses in coping with illegal
immigration. Its policies toward Israel, too, are characterized by misperceptions
and short-term considerations testifying to the lack of a
The situations of Israel and the European Union are not, however,
symmetrical. The weaknesses of grand-strategic thinking in Israel on
the European Union are much more costly for Israel than vice versa,
though grave consequences for the European Union cannot be excluded.
Therefore, taking "a look from nowhere,"4 it is up to Israel
to seize the initiative in crafting a grand strategy toward the European
Union, without waiting for the latter to better formulate its approach
This article tries to help meet this Israeli need by suggesting some
foundations of an Israeli grand strategy toward the European Union.
It does so by exploring main misperceptions in Israel and the
European Union, analyzing deep disagreements, and suggesting some
principles for an Israeli grand strategy toward the European Union.
It is hoped that the article can also help the European Union develop
a high-quality grand strategy toward Israel that can advance the
values and interests of both sides.5 That, however, is for EU readers
Some elements of an Israeli grand strategy toward the European
Union are in place, including policies to intensify economic and
technological-scientific relations and some efforts to reach agreement
on political issues. Thanks to reciprocal intentions and interests by
the European Union and its member states, much has been achieved,
including increasing economic interaction and scientific cooperation.6 Israel also works quite systematically to build up relations
with a variety of EU bodies, such as the European Parliament. And
bilateral relations with EU member states focus in part on Israeli-
However, this is not the case in political matters, where the positions
of the European Union, as supported by most of its members,
are quite hostile to main Israeli policies. This is clearly evident in the
sharp disagreements on the separation fence and the related International
Court of Justice advisory opinion and UN General Assembly
resolutions. And that is only one of many serious disagreements that
inevitably damage Israeli-EU relations unless coped with on the level
of "reframing" basic disagreements,7 rather than case-by-case debate.
To progress in this direction, what is essential is a well-crafted grand
strategy that assures coherent and consistent Israeli decisions and
actions adding up to a critical mass.
Israeli Strategic Assets vis-à-vis the European Union
There is little benefit in crafting a grand strategy for actors that do
not have assets for implementing it. However, that is not the case for
Israel in its relations with the European Union. Megalomania has to
be avoided, but a sense of powerlessness is no less counterproductive.
Main strategic assets of Israel for reshaping its relations with the
European Union are both positive, in the sense of benefiting the European
Union, and negative, in the sense of potentially causing damage
to it. They include, in no particular order:
Ability to influence the European Union's role in Middle
Eastern affairs, particularly in regard to Israeli-Palestinian relations,
which in turn have an impact on the European Union's
global and regional standing.
Significant buying capacity that is of economic significance to
the European Union.
Possibility to direct scientific and technological cooperation,
particularly in security technologies and hi-tech, either to
Europe or to other partners, especially in the United States.
Capacity to influence the soft power8 of the American Jewish
community and its actions in regard to U.S.-EU relations.
Potentially, ability to strengthen and mobilize Jewish soft power
in some EU countries.
Some influence on a number of EU countries resulting from
strong bilateral relations.
However unasked for, helping EU decision makers to better
understand the Middle East.
Direct help, mainly but not only involving intelligence, in
coping with terror against targets in the European Union.
Potential ability, if pushed into a dangerous corner, to "throw
surprises at history" and cause changes in the Middle East that
are bad for the European Union.
A hard-power reserve capacity to help protect essential EU
interests in case of ruptures, such as dangers to oil supplies.
On a deeper level, and in significant respects more important, are
many common values and shared cultural traditions; a fundamental
commitment of the European Union and its member states to Israel's
security, however differently envisaged; intense networks of personal
and professional relations; European feelings of guilt for the Shoah;
a comparable confrontation with Islamic fundamentalism, which is
likely to pose escalating threats to the Union; and, most important
of all, a shared interest and value of avoiding a clash of civilizations,
improving relations between Islamic and Western actors including
Israel, and achieving at least a quasi-stable settlement of the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict and, in the longer run, a peaceful and prosperous
"New Middle East."
However, many of these Israeli assets are counterbalanced and
often outweighed by EU assets that can bring many benefits or grievous
harm to Israel. These are too obvious to need enumeration, but they
lead to a very important conclusion that often is not given enough
weight in Israeli policies, namely, that improving relations is more of
an urgent need for Israel than for the European Union.
Dispelling Israel's EU-Related Misconceptions
Getting rid of misconceptions is a major step in crafting an effective
grand strategy. I will therefore start by mapping three major Israeli
misconceptions about the European Union that spoil Israel's attitudes
and undermine its policies toward the Union.
Before doing so, let me explain my methodology in presenting
the misperceptions. Following widespread practice in international
relations theory and even more so in policy discourse, where states
and multistate entities are often discussed as if they were single
actors having a coherent set of interests and policies, I speak about
Israeli and EU misconceptions as if referring to single, coherent,
and consistent actors. This is clearly incorrect, both Israel and the
European Union being pluralistic democracies with many differences
of opinion. Thus, parts of the "Left" and the "Right" in
Israel have some quite divergent views on the European Union,
and in the European Union, France, Germany, and the United
Kingdom differ in their attitudes toward Israel and its policies.
Nevertheless, there are dominant core positions that are widely
shared by main policy elites and shape most decisions. It is to these
that I refer as opinions, positions, and misperceptions of the European
Union and of Israel.
Turning to Israeli misperceptions, let me start with a "positive"
one, which therefore is all the more misleading: namely, the hope,
desire, and expectation to join the European Union within the foreseeable
future, say, the next fifty years.9
It is quite amazing that no small number of senior Israeli policymakers
who are familiar with the European Union cling to this
misconception, a fact that I can explain only in terms of wishful
thinking. This view ignores fundamental incongruities between Israel's
nature as a Jewish state and the state of the Jewish people on the one
hand, and the European Union's guiding principle of becoming an
open and unified space without sharp distinctions between citizens of
member states in terms of "insiders" and "others" on the other. However
democratic and liberal Israel is and however much universal
human values are part of its spirit, its reality and aspirations as a
Jewish state and the state of the Jewish people make it "exceptional"
and "radically different"10 from other states. This difference precludes
Israel's becoming a full member of the European Union even if invited
to do so; while giving up this uniqueness would undermine Israel's
very raison d'être.
It is easy to give concrete illustrations, such as the contradiction
between the Law of Return and the EU principle of free movement
of citizens, even if realized in phases. Similarly, Israel's desire to play
a major role in assuring the thriving of the Jewish people as a whole
is not congruent with EU values and institutions. On the different
level of realpolitik, the European Union is very unlikely to regard
Israel as a serious candidate for accession in the foreseeable future.
Therefore, aspiring and hoping for Israeli membership in the
European Union in the foreseeable future is a serious misconception.
Recognizing that Israel will not and should not try to become a
member, as opposed to multiplying cooperation agreements, is therefore
a basic starting point for a grand strategy toward the European
Not less erroneous and, in fact, much more damaging is the opposite
misperception: that good political relations with the European
Union are not really critical for Israel. Although Israeli policymakers
are aware of the European Union's importance for Israel, many of
them think the special relationship with the United States can fully
compensate for political disagreements with the European Union and
that this will reliably be the case in the foreseeable future.
Yet neither what are perceived, rightly so in part, as anti-Israeli
EU policies, nor trust in the United States, which may be exaggerated,
can justify the conclusion that relations with the European Union are
less than critical for Israel's future. Not only do the Israeli economy
and significant parts of its research and technology depend on
cooperation with the European Union, but the latter is quite sure to
become much more active in global affairs,11 in security policies,12 and
to become even more involved in the Middle East.13 Taking into account
migration together with confronting terror, the European Union
will also become more active in relations with Islam. Furthermore,
U.S.-EU cooperation is sure to improve because of shared interests
even when not always seen as such, including with respect to the
Therefore, Israel should regard the European Union as a major
global actor15 bordering on the Middle East and sure to play a signifi-
cant role, for better or worse, in shaping Israel's political-strategic
future. It follows that much more strenuous efforts by Israel to improve
its relations with the European Union are a must.
However, here the third misconception enters the picture - namely,
that anti-Israeli attitudes and geostrategic views detrimental to Israel's
security have deep roots in the European Union. The corollary is that
efforts to improve political relations will probably fail. This misperception
is reinforced, however incorrectly, by a widespread image, also
held by significant parts of the Israeli policy elite, that large parts
of the European Union are anti-Semitic. This is reinforced by the
increasingly revealed history of facilitation, both active and passive,
of the Shoah by many European countries.
It is true that many actions by the European Union and its member
states provide a strong empirical basis for the view that under present
circumstances not much can be done to improve Israel's political
relations with the European Union without paying too high a price
in terms of Israeli values and security. Recent EU voting patterns in
the UN General Assembly reinforce this view. But one of the few clear
lessons of history is that policies of countries and other international
actors change with time and that other countries can play a role in
bringing about such changes. Furthermore, within the European
Union there is disagreement on aspects of Middle East policy and on
attitudes toward Israel, increasing the probabilities of influencing EU
policy as a whole by means of suitable policies.
An additional point is that if Israel had acted optimally to improve
political relations with the European Union, without compromising
its core values and interest, and failed to achieve results, then there
would indeed be a strong empirical basis for the opinion that EU
policies toward Israel are deeply rooted and rigid and nothing much
can be done about them, at least for the time being. But that is clearly
not the case, with Israel lacking a well-crafted grand strategy toward
the European Union, investing relatively small resources in liaison
with it, and making plenty of errors that cause ill will.
In sum, two alternative conclusions seem justified: either it is likely
that relations with the European Union can be significantly improved,
or one cannot know if this is possible without trying in earnest. For
both conjectures, the implication is the same: Israel should make much
more of an effort to improve political relations, too, with the European
Deep Disagreements and EU Misconceptions
Doing so would be relatively easy were disagreements between the
European Union and Israel superficial. Meeting or not meeting with
Arafat, giving the European Union a little more or less weight in
negotiating the road map, avoiding some offending Israeli remarks,
and so on - these are relatively simple matters. However, there are
deeper Israeli-EU disagreements regarding worldviews, mental sets,
cultural assumptions, and understandings of reality. Furthermore,
many of these disagreements reflect serious misconceptions by the
European Union (which are sure to cause much damage to it, too),
making them all the harder for Israel to amend.
Particularly serious and insidious are eight deep disagreements
that, in part, also constitute serious misperceptions by the European
1. If Israel would withdraw from nearly all the occupied territories, in
which a Palestinian state would then be established, a stable peace
would be likely.
A significant Israeli withdrawal is inevitable and constitutes a preferable
(in the sense of least bad) choice for Israel, as increasingly agreed
by Israeli heads of government, large parts of the policy elite, and a
growing proportion of the Israeli public. But the scope and form of
withdrawal and related security arrangements depend a good deal on
expectations of the stability of the emerging Palestinian state and of
the Middle East, as well as on agreements concerning the "sensitive"
and very difficult issues of refugees and Jerusalem, as well as on
linkages with relations with other Arab states.
On these matters Israeli and EU views diverge, with Israel being
very aware of the instability of the Middle East and the doubtful
viability and peaceful nature of a Palestinian state, in contrast to the
optimistic EU expectations. In my view, mainstream Israeli evaluations
are right in this matter whereas the EU position is a misperception
ignoring all that is known about the socioeconomic, religious, and
political dynamics of the Middle East. Unexpected shifts for the better
cannot be excluded and should be worked for, but to base policies on
them is reckless.
2. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a main cause of Islamic fundamentalist
Related to the misperception discussed above is the EU hope that
settling the Palestinian issue will significantly reduce Islamic hostility
toward the West and terrorist attacks on it. Although some such effects
are likely, Islamic fundamentalism with its hostility toward the West
has much deeper causes and is likely to continue and also to escalate
despite any Israeli-Palestinian accommodation - which, whatever is
agreed, will be rejected and regarded as "treason" by fundamentalist
extremists who will react by trying to increase terror.
This is a very deep disagreement that affects all EU policies toward
Israel, the Middle East, and global geostrategic issues. As long as it
lasts, improving Israel-EU relations will be very difficult. Nevertheless,
when an Israeli-Palestinian accommodation is reached, however partial
and temporary, or some event pushes this conflict off the main
EU policy agenda, this disagreement will be less crucial and improving
Israeli-EU relations will become easier as this misperception is set
3. Israel should be a "normal" Western state.
A more fundamental misperception is the EU view that Israel is and
should behave as other Western democratic countries. This is perhaps
the deepest disagreement and the most serious of all EU misperceptions.
It ignores Israel's radical uniqueness, having been built by Zionism
as a democratic Jewish state and regarding itself as the state of
the Jewish people. Viewing Israel as a "normal" state also ignores its
unique geostrategic situation as a border country between the Arab
world on one side and Western Europe on the other, a situation that
poses existential dangers having no parallel in the European Union
and therefore requiring security measures that are difficult for it to
understand and accept.
Improving the European Union's understanding of Israel is therefore
a sine qua non for upgrading relations, all the more so because
the EU misconception of the very nature and "spirit" of Israel produces
or reinforces most of the deep disagreements and results in EU demands
and policies that Israel cannot accept.
4. Incomprehension of Israel's nature as the core state of the Jewish
As mentioned, Israel regards itself as the "state of the Jewish people,"
an idea that is basic to Judaism and central to Zionism. Although in
some respects the relations between Israel and Jews living in other
countries can be compared to the relations between other homelands
and their diasporas,17 they are unique in their value bases, history, and
Thus, Israel regards itself as responsible for the safety of Jews
all over the world, deliberately discriminates in favor of Jews in its
immigration policies, is very active in worldwide networks of the Jewish
people, intends to take a more active role in claiming reparations and
restitutions,18 and is considering ways to formally consult Diaspora
Jewish leaders and institutions on Israeli decisions having significant
impacts on the Jewish people as a whole.19
All this is hard to understand and even harder to accept for the
5. International law provides norms that are obligatory for Israel.
More concrete is the EU expectation and demand that Israel should
act according to the present norms of international public law and
respect the opinions of international courts. Israel, however, does not
do so and cannot do so without endangering its security and fundamental
values. This is clearly a cause of serious disagreements, both
on the level of principle and of specific actions.
Undoubtedly, Israel can and should take international and humanitarian
law more into account. But the deep disagreement stems from
what I regard as a major EU misconception, namely, that present
international law is a given that has to be applied, regardless of changes
Without going into the relations between social change and law
in general and between forms of conflict and "laws of war" in particular,20
new security dangers require significant and in part radical innovations
in international law and in the balance between human
rights and collective security. A fateful illustration is the escalating
ability of fewer and fewer to kill more and more with rapidly increasing
cost effectiveness combined with proliferating extreme fundamentalism,
which cannot be contained and reduced without new international
Israel (and the Jewish people as a whole) are prime targets of such
and other novel forms of attack and therefore have no choice but to
pioneer the development and application of new norms fitting the
threat.21 The United States, following the 9/11 attack, has reached a
similar conclusion. The European Union, however, despite increasing
exposure to novel forms of mass killing and terrorist extortions, still
lags behind. The result is a deep disagreement with Israel, related to
what I regard as a very serious lag of EU images of the reality behind
ruptures in human history that require proportional shifts in global
6. Israeli reactions to Palestinian violence must be "proportional,"
harming only the perpetrators of terrorist acts and avoiding collective
harm, as by the separation fence.
To continue on a concrete level, a good illustration is the EU demand
that Israeli actions follow a narrow interpretation of the Geneva Conventions,
which, in Israel's experience, do not accord with the novel
forms of attack to which Israel is subject. Thus, suicidal mass-killing
terrorism cannot be reduced by "proportional" reactions. Lifesaving
preemptive killing of terrorists, their commanders, and suppliers carries
unavoidable risks of harming bystanders. And protecting the Israeli
population requires, in the opinion of nearly all Israeli security
experts, a security fence often going beyond the pre-Six-Day War
borders and imposing heavy burdens on Palestinians not directly involved
in anti-Israeli activity, though due proportions between costs
and benefits in terms of human suffering should be assured (as decided
by the Israeli Supreme Court).
It is hard to escape the impression that the EU position on these
matters is based, consciously or implicitly, on the opinion that Israel
should withdraw from all the occupied territories and thus assure
peaceful coexistence and an end to terror, leading us back to a deep
disagreement discussed above - which only intensifies the significance
of the one presently discussed.
7. U.S. unilateralism and "new sovereigntism"22 is wrong and dangerous
and U.S. support of Israel is a grave mistake.
Israel, clearly, has a radically different opinion, agreeing with U.S.
positions and policies and eager for U.S. support. However, there is
more to this deep disagreement: It is based on an overall reality image
of the European Union that is different from the Israeli one and, in
my view, dangerously wrong. This brings us to the next and last deep
disagreement, which sums up all the rest.
8. "Readiness to kill and be killed" is an obsolete and dangerous
attitude and use of violence as an instrument of policy is evil. Both
are not tolerated by the public and are unnecessary, with few exceptions,
in a world that is on the way to "Eternal Peace."
All in all, EU views of the world tend to be optimistic, recognizing
some dangers but regarding them as temporary, local, and susceptible
to solution by mainly peaceful means. Correlated is EU citizens' lack
of readiness to risk their lives for what are seen as remote and doubtful
causes, and EU member states' inability or unwillingness to increase
defense budgets as is necessary to make the European Union a major
global actor in hard and not only soft power.
It is easy to explain this honorable image of reality. After the
terrible experience of the two world wars and in the midst of the
positive experience of building the European Union as a new polity
sure to prevent war between its members, trust in an approaching
"end of history" takes the place of "real-politics" - the bitter results
of which are in the minds of all. Trust in negotiations and ultimate
compromises based on common interests take the place of the threat
or use of force, with some exceptions of "humanitarian interventions"
where, too, the behavior of European units demonstrates little readiness
to kill and be killed to save the lives of the innocent people
entrusted to them.
The trouble is that this reality image is very doubtful, to put it
mildly, in light of the historical experience of the Jewish people and
of Israel. Israeli doubts about a "good world" rapidly in the making
have regretfully been validated by global and regional developments,
such as nuclear proliferation, threats by "crazy states,"23 and atrocious
terror - which are at least as likely to lead within the foreseeable future
to a "Global Leviathan"24 as to a peaceful world. Experience with
Palestinian rejection of the far-reaching Clinton-Barak plan25 provides
additional hard-data support for a view of the foreseeable future of
the Middle East, and beyond, that is more malignant than benign.
All this adds up to quite an abyss between the mindsets and reality
images of the European Union and Israel. But before proceeding to
some principles for an Israeli grand strategy toward the European
Union, let me balance the evaluation by mentioning some additional
Israeli misperceptions and relations-disturbing features.
Additional Israeli Misperceptions
Israeli decisionmakers suffer from serious misperceptions in addition
to those already discussed. As illustrations from a larger set, let me
mention six Israeli misperceptions, with some alternatives as espoused
by different Israeli policymakers. Such Israeli misperceptions
underlie disagreements with the European Union and, even more
dangerously, distort much of Israeli policy thinking, decisionmaking,
Israel can maintain control for an undefined future over large
parts of the occupied territories and retain most of the settlements
The special relationship with the United States and broadspectrum
U.S. support are sure to continue in the foreseeable
A temporary and partial agreement with the Palestinians, leaving
the refugee and Jerusalem issues for later, is viable. Or, alternatively,
a vague agreement that is ambiguous on main issues is
better than no agreement.
Whatever Israel gives up, multidimensional violent conflict with
Arab and Islamic states and nonstate actors is sure to continue,
with agreements being nearly worthless. Or, alternatively, giving
up nearly all the territories taken during the Six-Day War will
result in a stable and reliable peace.
Peace with Syria is not really important and related difficult
decisions on withdrawal from large parts of the Golan Heights
can be avoided without long-term high costs in terms of Arab-
International pressures can be resisted given strong will and good
nerves, without too high a price.
Further discussion of these and other Israeli misperceptions that
harm relations with the European Union is beyond the scope of
this article, all the more so as their correction leads far beyond
crafting a grand strategy toward the Union.26 But one conclusion
should be emphasized: the "blame" for poor Israeli-EU political
relations falls on both sides. However, according to my readings of
history and present realities and dynamics, the European Union
suffers at present from more serious misperceptions than do
mainstream Israeli policymakers, many of whom have changed their
mind on important issues following years of experience with
Palestinian and Arab realities,27 whereas the EU learning curve is
still in its beginnings.
Partly Different Mental Cosmos
To sum up, on some crucial matters Israeli and EU decisionmakers
and publics at large live and act in quite different mental cosmos.
Their Weltanschauungen (worldviews) diverge, and their ways of thinking
about, imagining, and making sense of reality28 in part radically
differ from one another. At the same time, Israel is in many respects
part of Western civilization and shares with the European Union many
fundamental values,29 reality perceptions, as well as pragmatic interests.
Most important for the long-term future of Israeli-EU relations and
giving cause to optimism is the European Union's desire to assure the
existence of a secure Israeli state within a peaceful Middle East and
closely associated with the Union, however intense the disagreements
on how to reach that goal.
This mixture of differences and commonalities poses the main
challenge to an Israeli grand strategy toward the European Union.
Some Principles for an Israeli Grand Strategy
toward the European Union
Based on the above analysis together with application of main
approaches to crafting grand strategies,30 the following seventeen principles
for an Israeli grand strategy toward the European Union are
Realize the crucial importance of relations with the European Union
for the future of Israel.
Recognize and explicate shared long-term interests.
Give high priority to improving relations with the European Union,
including investing larger resources and avoiding inessential irritating
Understand better EU values, interests, and worldviews.
Craft the Israeli grand strategy toward the European Union in close
conjunction with the crafting of Israeli grand strategies on other
crucial issues, such as relations with China, postures toward Islamic
actors, and interaction with global governance bodies, so as to assure
mutual consistency and positive interaction.31
Move from debate on current issues to clarification of fundamental
disagreements, with efforts to change some EU perceptions and
worldviews, in part instead of futile "public relations."32
Reduce Israeli misperceptions about the European Union and issues
in dispute with the Union.
Strive to cooperate with the European Union on global issues, such
as ecological concerns, dangers of a clash of civilizations, and revision
of international law - including at UN forums.
Map shared strategic interests and offer more cooperation in advancing
EU political and security objectives, as long as these do not
contradict main Israeli needs, including shared intelligence and contingency
Initiate shared professional discourse on long-range futures of the
Middle East and on global geostrategy as a whole.
Be more elastic in enabling and also encouraging closer EU involvement
in Middle East peace processes, subject to safeguarding essential
Formally consult the European Union on major Israeli initiatives,
unless secrecy is of the essence.
Strengthen the cultural policy dimension in relations with the European
Delicately explicate the risk to the European Union of neglecting
critical Israeli security needs, such as action against proliferation
of weapons of mass killing (WMK),33 and of pushing Israel into a
corner, including the possibility of mega-conflicts in the Middle East
with much "collateral damage" to EU areas.
Facilitate, in nonprovocative ways, the upgrading of Jewish soft
power in the European Union.
Insist on Israel's higher moral ground in regard to the Palestinians,
in view of the history of Israel's far-reaching offers of compromise
that the Palestinians rejected.
Persist in demanding European support as a moral duty of theirs
following the Shoah.
In view of the deep bases of disagreements between Israel and the
European Union, relying on ad hoc action, changes in the personal
composition of the EU bodies, "personal chemistry," better public
relations, luck, and so on is clearly not enough. Whether according
to the proposed principles or others, Israel urgently needs to craft
a grand strategy toward the European Union. The European Union,
too, should significantly improve its grand-strategic thinking. But
this is a task for the European Union to consider, while developing
and implementing an Israeli grand strategy, aimed at improving
relations and upgrading cooperation with the European Union
including in political and security matters, is a task awaiting Israeli
decisionmakers and strategic thinkers. However, crafting and implementing
high-quality grand strategy, which is essential for Israel's
future, requires considerable changes in the Israeli political system
and machinery of government. That, however, is a subject for another
* * *
* * *
See Yehezkel Dror, A Grand Strategy for Israel (Jerusalem: Academon, 1989),
Ch. 3 (Hebrew); Yehezkel Dror, Grand-Strategic Thinking for Israel, Policy
Paper No. 23 (Ariel, Israel: Ariel Center for Policy Research, 1998).
Strong ideological commitments can serve as motivations making achievement
of the nearly impossible a reality, by "self-fulfilling prophecy" dynamics.
But they can also serve as reality blinders and learning-inhibitors, through
what has aptly been called "motivated irrationality." See David Pears, Motivated
Irrationality (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984).
See Ali Carkoglu, Barry Rubin, and Barry M. Rubin, Turkey and the European
Union: Domestic Integration and International Dynamics (London: Frank
Thomas Nagel, The View from Nowhere (New York: Oxford University Press,
To make a personal remark, I would not have dared express such an aspiration
but for my extensive experience of working for the European Union on
grand-strategic and structural issues, during my two years at the European
Institute of Public Administration in Maastricht and afterward.
As surveyed in N. Munin, The EU and Israel: State of the Play (Jerusalem:
Israeli Ministry of Finance, International Department, 2003) (Hebrew). I am
grateful to Dr. Sharon Pardo for drawing my attention to this publication.
Applying the ideas of Donald A. Schon and Martin Rein, Frame Reflection:
Toward the Resolution of Intractable Policy Controversies (New York:
HarperCollins, 1995, reprint).
In the sense of Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Soft Power: The Means of Success in World
Politics (New York: Public Affairs Press, 2004).
I limit strategic thinking to a maximum of fifty years, because we are
living in an epoch of ruptures in historical continuity that makes longer range
outlooks into doubtful speculations. This is by far longer than the
time horizons of most strategic work, which tends to be much too shortsighted.
Better to adopt a longer time frame with more uncertainty but
still without being dominated by inconceivability, aided by uncertainty coping
methods, than to try and improve policies within a short time
frame that ignores minimum life cycles of main policies and long-term
possibly dismal consequences. A good introduction to coping with
uncertainty applicable to long-term strategic planning, based on RAND
Corporation experience, is James A. Dewar, Assumption-Based Planning:
A Tool for Reducing Avoidable Surprises (Cambridge: Cambridge University
There are methods that may permit longer-range guesstimates. It would
be worthwhile to experiment with such approaches on the subject of this
article, perhaps as a shared EU-Israeli project with additional partners. Some
of the best available methods for doing so are presented in Robert J. Lempert,
Steven W. Popper, and Steven C. Bankes, Shaping the Next One Hundred
Years: New Methods for Qualitative, Long-Term Policy Analysis (Santa Monica,
CA: RAND Corporation, 2003).
An important differentiation between "ordinary" and radical difference is
worked out in Carl R. Hausman, A Discourse on Novelty and Creation, 2nd
ed. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984).
Although progress toward a shared foreign and defense policy is slow,
the new Constitution, after adoption, will provide a strong basis for
strengthening the European Union as a global actor. For a user-friendly
version of the Constitution, see http://www.euabc.com/upload/rfConstitution
See Report of an Independent Task Force, European Defence: A Proposal
for a White Paper (Paris: Institute for Security Studies, 2004).
For a somewhat dated but still relevant survey, see Søren Dosenrode and
Anders Stubkjár, The European Union and the Middle East (London: UACES
Sheffield Academic Press, a Continuum imprint, 2002). More up-to-date
and comprehensive is Vassiliki N. Koutrakou, ed., Contemporary Issues and
Debates in EU Policy: The European Union and International Relations
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004).
See, e.g., Werner Weidenfeld et al., From Alliance to Coalitions: The Future
of Transatlantic Relations (Guetersloh: Bertelsmann Foundation Publishers,
See, e.g., Charlotte Bretherton and John Vogler, European Union as a Global
Actor, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge, forthcoming, 2005).
Especially pertinent are explanations of Islamic fundamentalism as, paradoxically,
a result of modernization; and of Islamic anti-Western attitudes as
rooted in the history of Western victories over Islamic countries and radical
cultural differences. See S. N. Eisenstadt, Fundamentalism, Sectarianism, and
Revolution: The Jacobin Dimension of Modernity (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1999); Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit, Occidentalism:
The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies (New York: Penguin Press, 2004); Akbar
S. Ahmed, Islam under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World
(Cambridge, UK: Policy Press, 2003).
See the unique treatment in Gabriel Sheffer, Diaspora Politics: At Home
Abroad (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
This may cause increasing tensions with EU member states that often are
very reluctant to meet demands for full restitutions and reparations, for
instance in regard to real estate and objects of art. See Stuart Eizenstat,
Imperfect Justice (New York: Public Affairs Press, 2004).
Very significant is the initiative by the president of Israel to set up a "Jewish
People Council" as a kind of consultative Second Chamber of the Israeli
For an original and very pertinent historical treatment, see Philip Bobbitt,
The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History (New York:
See Yehezkel Dror, "Confronting Atrocious Evil," Midstream, January 2003,
For these concepts and their criticisms, see Peter J. Spiro, "The New Sovereigntists:
American Exceptionalism and Its False Prophets," Foreign Affairs,
November/December 2000; further discussed in Peter J. Spiro, "What Happened
to the 'New Sovereigntism,' " Foreign Affairs, 28 July 2004.
See Yehezkel Dror, Crazy States: A Counterconventional Strategic Issue (Lexington,
MA: Heath, 1971; 1980 Kraus Reprints, enlarged ed.).
See Yehezkel Dror, The Capacity to Govern (London: Frank Cass, 2002),
passim; Yehezkel Dror, "From My Perspective: Lucifer Smiles," Technological
Forecasting and Social Change, Vol. 69, May 2002, pp. 431-435.
The best description and analysis is provided in Dennis Ross, The Missing
Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace (New York: Farrar,
Straus & Giroux, 2004). The fact that the European Union did not play any
real role in this process is significant.
For an even broader perspective on present "capacities to govern" as inadequate
for coping with complex problems, including global and regional
security issues, with application to Israel and the European Union, see Yehezkel
Dror, The Capacity to Govern: A Report to the Club of Rome (London:
Frank Cass, Taylor and Francis Publishing Group, 2002, paperback ed.).
A striking illustration is the statement by Prime Minister Sharon that parts
of the settlement policy in the occupied territories were a strategic mistake.
What I have in mind are "social imaginaries," as discussed in Charles Taylor,
Modern Social Imaginaries (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004).
However, the idea of Europe having a Judeo-Christian civilization is misleading
in underrating the radical differences between Judaism and Christianity.
See, e.g., Trude Weiss-Rosmarin, Judaism and Christianity: The Difference
(Middle Village, NY: Jonathan David, 1997, first published 1943); Tsvi Bisk
and Moshe Dror, Futurizing the Jews: Alternative Futures for Meaningful
Jewish Existence in the 21st Century (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003), Ch. 10.
As detailed in Dror, Grand-Strategic Thinking (note 1).
This raises the need for multidimensional grand-strategic Israeli thinking,
which goes beyond present political and institutional capacities.
Interesting to try and apply is Howard Gardner, Changing Minds: The Art
and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People's Minds (Boston: Harvard
Business School Press, 2004).
This term is more accurate than "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD).
PROF. YEHEZKEL DROR is professor of political science (emeritus) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and founding president of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute. His experience as a strategic planner includes two years at the RAND Corporation, senior advisory positions in the offices of the Israeli prime minister and defense minister, and two years working on EU policy issues at the European Institute of Public Administration in Maastricht.
The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect
those of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
The above essay appears in the Fall 2004 issue of the Jewish Political Studies Review, the first and only journal dedicated to the study of Jewish political institutions and behavior, Jewish political thought, and Jewish public affairs.
Published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (http://www.jcpa.org/), the JPSR appears twice a year in the form of two double issues, either of a general nature or thematic, with contributors including outstanding scholars from the United States, Israel, and abroad. The hard copy of the Fall 2004 issue will be available in the coming weeks. This issue focuses on "Emerging Anti-Semitic Themes."
From the Editor - Manfred Gerstenfeld
Foreword - by Natan Sharansky
Foundations of an Israeli Grand Strategy Toward
the European Union - by Yehezkel Dror
Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism - by Robert Wistrich
Watching the Pro-Israeli Media Watchers
by Manfred Gerstenfeld and Ben Green
Abusing the Legacy of the Holocaust: The Role of NGOs
in Exploiting Human Rights to Demonize Israel
by Gerald M. Steinberg
International Organizations: Combating Anti-Semitism
by Michael Whine
Confronting Reality: Anti-Semitism in Australia Today
by Jeremy Jones
Anti-Semitism in Canada - by Manuel Prutschi
Anti-Semitism in Germany Today: Its Roots and Tendencies
by Susanne Urban
Iceland, the Jews and Anti-Semitism, 1625-2004
by Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson
The Persistence of Anti-Semitism on the British Left
by Ben Cohen
Suing Hitler's Willing Business Partners: American Justice
and Holocaust Morality - by Michael J. Bazyler
A Case Study: Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A.: A Battleground
for Israel's Legitimacy - by Joel Fishman
An Analytic Approach to Campus Pro-Israeli Activism
Case Study: John Hopkins University - by Yonit Golub
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