Opportunities in Change - Reaching Out to the Arab Spring

Winds of change are blowing across the Middle East. For the first time in decades, Arab citizens in different countries are going to the streets and demanding freedom and basic human rights. In much of Europe and North America, these developments have been by and large greeted with enthusiasm and hope for a better Middle East.


Israel, however, is viewing things differently. It is examining the new regional situation with considerable concern, and even fear. The Israeli consensus is that we are witnessing the start of a long era of instability, with increased threats of regional radicalization and Islamism. The Arab Spring is generally perceived in Israel as a threat to national security.


Israel's official policy towards the Arab Spring reflects these concerns. It aims at maintaining – to the extent possible – the status quo. Israel also refrains from taking initiatives to promote the peace process. This policy increases Israel's regional isolation and does not enable it to be part of regional processes that are reshaping the Middle East.


Mitvim believes that the potential threats that Israel sees in the Arab Spring form only part of a larger and more complex picture, and that recent developments across the Arab world also hold important opportunities for Israel's regional foreign policies and for its standing in the Arab and Muslim worlds.


For this reason, Mitvim, in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, has launched in 2011 the "Opportunities in Change" project that sets out to develop a fresh Israeli approach towards the Arab Spring – one that emphasizes opportunities and not only threats, and that aims to advance peace and regional belonging.


A multi-disciplinary Mitvim task-force has been assembled, including experts from the fields of Middle Eastern studies, international relations, media, civil society and policy-making. The task-force is working to identify and analyze the opportunities for Israel in the Arab Spring, and to start putting them into use.


The papers published as part of this project can be read here.


Read the 2012 project activities summary here


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