From Mistress to Known Partner: Israel's Secret Relations with States and Minorities in the Middle East

From Mistress to Known Partner: Israel's Secret Relations with States and Minorities in the Middle East

Friday, 8 May 2020 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
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Venue: 
Investcorp Auditorium, Middle East Centre, St Antony's College
Speaker(s): 
Professor Elie Podeh
Series: 
Middle East Centre Friday Seminar Series

Bio:

Elie Podeh is Bamberger and Fuld Professor in the History of the Muslim Peoples in the Department of Islamic and Middle East Studies, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He serves as the President of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Association of Israel (MEISAI). Board Member of Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies. Main fields of interests: Egypt, inter-Arab relations, the Arab-Israeli conflict; education and culture in the Middle; Israeli foreign policy. Served as the Head of Islamic and ME Department (2004-2009) at the Hebrew University and editor of Hamizrah Hehadash (New East, 2000-2008), the Hebrew journal of MEISAI. He has published and edited twelve books and more than seventy academic articles in English, Hebrew and Arabic. His recent publications: Multiple Alterities: Views of Others in Middle Eastern Textbooks (edited with Samira Alayan, London: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2018); The Third Way: Protest and Revolution in the Middle East (Jerusalem: Carmel, 2017) [Hebrew]; Chances for Peace: Missed Opportunities in the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Austin: University Press of Texas, 2015); The Politics of National Celebrations in the Arab Middle East (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011). At present, he writes a book on Israel’s secret relations in the Middle East since 1948.

Abstract:

In order to survive in a hostile environment in the Middle East, Israeli decision makers developed a pragmatic regional foreign policy, designed to find ways to approach states, leaders and minorities willing to cooperate with it against mutual regional challenges (such as the Periphery Alliance with Iran and Turkey (until 1979), the Kurds, the Maronites in Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, South Sudan and more). Contacts with these potential partners were mostly covert, creating Israel’s “Mistress Syndrome.” The aim of this lecture, which is part of a new comprehensive book on Israel’s secret relations with its neighbors during the years 1948-2018 is two-fold: First, to offer a theoretical framework explaining the meaning and features of what I call the “mistress syndrome”; and second, to focus on several case studies of clandestine activity, such as Israel’s ties with the Gulf countries, Sudan, Morocco and more. The research is based on three types of sources: archival material (mainly Israeli, but also British and American); media (newspapers, Internet, etc.); and more than 100 personal interviews with leading Israeli officials involved in this secret activity in the Mossad, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Intelligence.