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New Diplomacy in the Age of Corona: Turning Hope Into Strategy

As part of an extensive effort to address the disruption caused by COVID-19, the Charney Forum for New Diplomacy launched a Corona & New Diplomacy interview series, produced by the good folks at New York based Charney Media, courtesy of Ms. Tzili Charney. Prominent thought leaders share their initial observations of the Coronavirus implications on globalization, diplomacy, and geopolitics. This time, a fascinating panel with a exceptional speakers, Ambassador Dan Shapiro, and award-winning journalist Yael Lavie, Professor Ron Robin, President of University of Haifa, Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Chairman Charney Forum for New Diplomacy, Professor Rivka Carmi, Pediatrician and Genetist, Yariv Sultan, Principal Consultant at GlobalCan, strategic solutions for nonprofits, with Noa Meir, CEO of the Charney Forum moderating.

A major theme in this discussion was the deterioration of the "old world order" implemented and a shift in organization in all aspects including academia, corporations, governments, and media dissemination. Ambassador Aharoni sees the beginning of the crash of two forces in leadership and a challenge to existing leaderships in terms of trust. One force is the shift towards more responsible consumption, robust climate change discussions, and collaboration of international relations in medicine and health treatments. The old force is the resumption of an old world order that blames globalization and global travel as the main agent of this crises.

Ambassador Shapiro foresees the acceleration of the estbalishment of a "bipolar order" which is a trend already underway. China is able to "throw its' weight around" with its' economic prowess, the One Belt One Road Initiative, and its' technological advancements in AI, 5G, and semiconductors. This poses as a competition for the United States where Israel is now facing the problem of choosing sides between the two countries.

In terms of media dissemination, Ms. Sultan wishes to see a reduction of "panic porn" by the media thrown at civilians and for them to abide by the ethics of media where information should be verified beforehand. That is why it is her belief that citizen journalism will be predominant in the days to come where free press and the hyperconnectivity of the world will play a large role. Mainstream outlets are politically filtered so it is up to the citizens to become their "own editor" and agent in doing their won research from the digital world. She suggested instead of relying on the government in providing information to the people, it is now the people's job to provide information to each other. We are seeing evidence of this already from exclusive private academic journals opening access to the public.

Scientists are beyond borders at this point. Professor Carmi notes the increasing accessibilty of virtual medicine which is also less expensive. One expert on the panel believes that COVID-19 is a complex crisis in that Israel was not prepared to handle it. The country has the medicine to handle infectious diseases, but it was not prepared to prevent the widespread of mass infections whilst flattening the curve. Medical personnel and the elderly were of the high risk population and the government did not handle these high-risk communities in a timely manner. Israel may have enough medical equipment like the ventilators, as the panelist said, but there was insufficient staff as many of them became infected. Another criticism was the internal mismanagement of ignoring other country’s warnings and the “wasted diplomatic capital on blaming China” instead of formulating a “practical plan”.

According to Yariv Sultan, this crisis has affected the country not only economically but philanthropically. In Israel, 85 percent of its NGOs reported a serious reduction in health and education funds and an estimated four out of ten NGOs may need to close as a result. Fifty percent of Israel’s labor market comes from NGOs.

The experts all stressed that trust and solidarity between governments and its citizens is very key and that NGOs and philanthropists will need to play a bigger role in the country. Therefore, it is important that the government listen to the pleas and requests of the philanthropies. Medicine and research are now globalized without borders, and new information on the disease is streaming on an hourly basis.

For more information on the Charney Forum for New Diplomacy:

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