Aspen Romania, in cooperation with the Embassy of Israel to Romania, organized a discussion on Israel's contemporary challenges as a country and a society and how those relate to Central and Eastern Europe and Romania. This event is part of the "Aspen Dialogues" series.
With the help of three reputed Israeli experts we explored the challenges faced by Israel as a modern, developed economy and the internal processes shaping the Israeli society. Too often the conversation regarding Israel's relationship with Europe focuses extensively on the security and political dimension. Historical ties, contemporary economic and social relations are explored to a lesser extent and superficially. Last summer's social protests in Israel, largely driven by the middle class, have to some extent shifted not only the domestic Israeli debate but also the world's attention to a different set of topics.
The three lectures and the conversation to follow allowed participants in the dialogue to address some of these questions related to Israeli society's self-image and other sociological aspects like socio-economic tensions and the changing economic model, the relationship between identity and nationhood, the secular-religious element in the Israeli society, the impact of Israel's education system on the country's present and future economic and social development and distinctiveness. We were able to put these aspects in historical context as well as to connect them to the complex set of relationships that make Israel a nation linked organically to Europe and the US. Given the size and role Central and Easter European Jewry played in Israel's becoming as a nation we will also look into where contemporary history took those symbolic but also practical links today.
We were honored by the presence of three of the most remarkable Israeli academic figures to debate these issues and other which will arise in the Q&A: Dr. Raphael Vago, Department of History, Tel-Aviv University; Prof. Oz Almog, Department of Land of Israel Studies, University of Haifa and Prof. Gad Yair, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Israel has become one of Romania's most important partners, sharing similar values and principles. Cooperation between the two countries has grown in the past years in all areas: economic, commercial, political, defense or cultural. This will be a good opportunity to also explore possible avenues of cooperation at the business, civil society or academic levels for the Aspen Romania community and its friends.
The agenda will include three lectures and a session of Q&A:
Dr. Raphael Vago: Israel and Central and Eastern Europe after 1989 - mutual interests and ties
Prof. Oz Almog: The Israeli Society - Sociological Assessment
Prof. Gad Yair: 2012 summer protests in Israel