Contemporary Israel in a Turbulent Region: Politics, Economics and Security

The Department of Historical Studies, NTNU invites to an international conference

Contemporary Israel in a Turbulent Region: Politics, Economics and Security

– Trondheim, August 21-22, 2017

Contemporary Israel in a Turbulent Region: Politics, Economics and Security


The NTNU together with the University of Leeds organized the conference Israel’s Clandestine Diplomacies in 2011. The conference was very successful, hosting scholars from Europe, the US and the Middle East, and resulted in an anthology published by Hurst (UK) and the University of Oxford Press (US). In that volume we explored how Israel has survived six major wars and much turbulence, part of the answer is effective use of clandestine diplomacies, hence the title for the conference and the book.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration and it will be very fitting with this as a starting point to organize a follow-up conference on contemporary Israel and how the Jewish nation meets the multiple challenges facing it. Leaving the moral issue aside on the plight of the Palestinians, contemporary Israel must be considered a success story in terms not only of the nation’s survival and yes even blossoming, particularly compared to much of the turbulence in the region. Israel’s diplomacies have been remarkable resilient and inventive, as well as its domestic security regime (this may be argued, but Israel has been able to cope with and contain much of the terror on its soil), and laying foundations for an advanced economic private and public private enterprise sector. In the hey day of apartheid, South Africa was one of Israel’s main partners in terms of security cooperation and weapons research and development. With the fall of the apartheid regime, Israel lost a major partner. This has been compensated with Israel opening up diplomatic relations with China (1991) and India (1992) and extending its ties with Japan. Israel is now the major trading partner to all of them in the Middle East.

While the EU often criticizes Israel’s policies against the Palestinians, this is mostly rhetoric as for practical purposes Israel is like a member of the EU. Not only that, the EU funds the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, relieving the Jewish state of a huge financial burden.  The most important liquid in the Middle East is not oil but water. Israel used up its ground water reserves fifteen percent faster than it was renewed. Not only, that but 90 percent of Israel’s ground water reserves were under the West Bank. All of which pointed to a major crisis in a not too distant future. But since 2010, Israel has managed through desalination to get 80 percent of its water needs from the Mediterranean, having a water surplus that is also given to the Palestinians.

The conference aims to bring in top international scholars and will start with a session looking at the Israeli experience in a longitudinal perspective from the time of the Balfour declaration until today, but the bulk of the conference will be on contemporary Israel. 

To be held a NTNU Dragvoll, August 21-22, 2017 (room D6).

Click to view conference program