arie reich88 224.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Arie Reich, vice dean of the Faculty of Law at Bar-Ilan University, and until recently the president of the Israeli Association for the Study of European Integration, was appointed as Bar-Ilan's next Dean of the Faculty of Law beginning January 2008, replacing Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats.
Prof. Reich is a well known legal expert on the subjects of European Union Law and International Trade Law. He received his degree of Doctor of Juridical Sciences (S.J.D.) at the University of Toronto in 1993. From 1996 to 2002, Reich was chairman of the Trade Levies Commission in Israel's Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duty Tribunal. In 1999, Reich was a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) arbitration panel in the dispute regarding the US Imposition of Countervailing Duties on Certain Lead and Bismuth Carbon Steel Products Originating in the UK.
The Israeli Association for the Study of European Integration (IASEI), which Reich was the president of for the past four years, was founded in 1992. IASEI brings together academics involved in researching Europe with practitioners active in European affairs. It provides a forum for debate, a site for information about European studies, and is itself directly involved in promoting research and establishing research networks. The new presidency of IASEI was handed over to Dr. Guy Harpaz of Hebrew University.
IASEI aspires to be a bridge between the different universities' centers for research and departments. It gives a possibility for Israeli academics and practitioners researching the European Union to meet and learn about the research of their colleagues. Among the members of IASEI are representatives from the Finance Ministry, Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Bank of Israel. From the different universities, most of members belong to the departments of Economics, International Relations, Political Science and Law.
The aims of IASEI are to permit researchers working on European integration issues to collaborate, initiate and encourage academic works on European Integration. Moreover, IASEI seeks to strengthen European integration issues as a scientific discipline, through the organization of seminars and conferences and to develop relationships with the associations for European studies in the world, as well as with the European Delegation in Israel.
In IASEI's last publication, which was published in October, in a working paper called "Contemporary Europe in Israeli Public Discourse - A Linguistic Constructivist Perspective," the authors (Asaf Shamis and Guy Harpaz) claim that the EU has intensified its efforts to enhance its relations with Israel and to become a significant regional player in the Middle East. The EU's achievements on these fronts have been modest, however. The literature focuses on the legal, economic and political factors that account for such a modest record and points, in particular, to the EU's lack of hard power and its incoherent Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The working paper focused on a different factor, namely that of the EU's legitimacy deficit, examined through Israeli public discourse. The analysis unraveled three prominent narratives characterizing Europe in Israeli public discourse, namely Historical Europe, Normative-Political Europe and Economic Europe.
The working paper states that the Historical Narrative associates contemporary Europe with Europe of the past encompassing a strong cultural-ideological affinity towards Europe, and yet revulsion from past anti-Semitism and Jewish persecution, which remain fresh in the collective Israeli memory. The ever-growing European external aspirations and initiatives have led to the emergence of a second narrative, namely Normative-Political Europe. The Economic Europe Narrative perceives the EU as an economic superpower, rather than as a historical notion or political entity. As such, this narrative emphasizes the comprehensiveness of the trade and economic ties binding Israel and the EU and the resultant benefits that Israel may enjoy from enhanced bilateral relations.
Shamis and Harpaz make the assessment that clear dividing lines can be drawn between the socio-economic and cultural sphere and the political-normative sphere. The Economic Europe Narrative and the positive aspects of Historical Europe Narrative reflect and shape Israel's positive approach towards Europe in the socio-economic and cultural spheres and the willingness of most Israelis to enhance socio-economic cultural relations with the EU and its Member States.
Yet, when one moves to the political sphere, the working paper claims, the negative aspects of Historical Europe, and the more antagonist Israeli stances towards Normative-Political Europe, are prevalent and deep-rooted in wide social, academic and political Israeli circles. This, in turn, has a negative reflective and constitutive impact on EU-Israeli relations and on the willingness of the average Israeli citizen and politician to embrace a greater EU role in the Middle East.
For more information regarding IASEI, please see http://www.biu.ac.il/soc/iasei/
The author is head of the International Department at the Joseph Shem-Tov law firm.