Research

ISRAELI CELEBRITY DIPLOMATS: FAME IN CONTEMPORARY ISRAELI-EUROPEAN AFFAIRS


Prof. Sharon Pardo, Senior Researcher, Simone Veil Centre for Contemporary
European Studies, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

 


Celebrity diplomacy is a relatively new phenomenon in Israeli foreign policy in Europe. Israel’s winning Eurovision singers, Dana International (1998) and Netta (2018), along with top model Bar Refaeli and Wonder Woman – Gal Gadot – serve as just the most visible of how new Israeli celebrities are performing an expanded range of diplomatic activities on behalf of the State of Israel in Europe and are being recognized on European and international stages.


Prof. Pardo’s research teases out the Israeli motivations and modes of operation of this emergent cohort of Israeli diplomats in Europe, while finding out exactly who these new Israeli celebrity diplomats in Europe are. The Israeli celebrity diplomats featured in this research perform their roles in Israeli-European affairs through completely different means than Israeli and European officials and diplomats. The research argues that this is largely a public phenomenon, defined by activism on the Israeli-European stage that is cast as the stylistic opposite from the insulated and service world of mainstream Israeli-European diplomacy. An element of spectacle informs their activities. Their mode of operation is populist in style and their platform of choice include interviews in a wide cross-section of new and old European media and mass performances via staged events all across the continent.

CULTURE OR DIPLOMACY?


RE-EXAMINATION OF CULTURAL DIPLOMACY AS A TOOL FOR IDENTITY FORMATION

 


Sabina Gendler, PhD student, Simone Veil Centre for Contemporary European
Studies, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.


Cultural aspects become crucial in power dynamics and in the ability of actors to define themselves in the international arena. In this sense, cultural diplomacy emerges as a reflection of the states 'culture'; in foreign affairs. Through cultural means and products, represented by local cultural agents, states seek to communicate directly with foreign publics. However, research in this field is not sufficiently developed and has only recently begun to gain renewed interest. This research will focus on the linkage between cultural diplomacy and the concept of power in international relations. This, through the examination of soft and normative power theories in light of cultural diplomacy and the way it is implemented both in EU-member states relations and the EU's external affairs, particularly vis-a-vis Israel. 

 

By deepening the theoretical concept of cultural diplomacy, the study aims to delineate the connection between theory and practice. As part of this, it will offer a new model for the definition and identification of activity methods in the field of cultural diplomacy. 

GASTRODIPLOMACY – A THEORETICAL INQUIRY:
THE CASE OF ISRAELI CHEFS IN THE EU

Ido Rosenblum, PhD student, Simone Veil Centre for Contemporary European
Studies, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

 

Gastrodiplomacy is defined as the use of cuisine as an instrument to create cross-cultural understanding in the hopes of improving interactions and cooperation between international and local agents/actors. Its theory has so far examined agents in national aspects only, with the actor permanently affiliated to the state. This paper focuses on whether Israeli immigrant chefs have become independent agents engaged in establishing Gastrodiplomacy among themselves and within the field in which they operate? Examining if agents/actors are no longer solely linked to the state, will allow my research to point out the representations and language that chefs choose to use as a diplomatic tool for conveying messages and ideas that sometimes are contrary to national interests. This study will focus on Israeli immigrant chefs' role as agents/actors in the EU, a diverse field of action based on the EU and Israel's convoluted relations, especially when considering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Doing so aims to expand the Gastrodiplomacy theory by introducing cuisine as an instrument for chefs as significant global agents/actors to promote political ideas and interests. With critical discourse analysis, my research will attempt to deconstruct frequent political narratives, using the term “Gastrodiplomacy” for narrow political interests. Thereby, this research will contribute to theorizing Gastrodiplomacy while using broader Diplomacy and International Relations theories.


The research provides an opportunity to build a bridge between officials in the diplomatic sphere serving in their embassies around the world and the “new diplomats”, world-class chefs, that represent their countries around the world in a new model of an embassy – the restaurant. Ido believes that food can bring people together, and with his research, he aims to do so. 

IS THERE AN OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE A NATIONAL IMAGE?
ISRAEL HOSTING THE EUROVISION IN 2019


Yasmin Kremer, MA student, Simone Veil Centre for Contemporary European
Studies, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.


This research examines how Israel is using channels of cultural diplomacy to deal with its negative image in the world. The Eurovision Song Contest, which was held this year in Tel Aviv serves as a case study for the research. The study will investigate Israel's use of cultural diplomacy to create a positive image in hosting the Eurovision in 2019.

 

The research will examine cultural diplomacy alongside 'Artwashing', a term used by BDS activists in their struggle to boycott the annual competition in Israel, claiming that Israel is pursuing a strategy that seeks to show the beautiful face of Israel in order to divert attention from conflict with the Palestinians.