First Herzliya Conference

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The First Herzliya Conference took place on 20-22 December 2000 at the Dan Accadia Hotel, Herzliya, Israel.[1][2] It was organized by the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya with sponsorship from the Israeli Ministry of Defence among others.[2]

The event included the inauguration of the Lauder School of Government, Policy and Diplomacy.[2]

The Jerusalem Post reported the following comments by Uzi Arad on the conference:

"Many people not prone to hyperbole started expressing doubts regarding Israel's staying power. Once we noted it was prevalent, we decided to try to do something about it," he said.
Among the cracks in Israel's national security are the current political gridlock, the divisions in society, the loss of nerve and sense of purpose among citizens, the erosion of patriotism, the fear that the technical pillars on which Israeli society rests are not as secure as believed, and the concern that Israel's human capital is regressing, Arad said.
"We all had serious concerns regarding the fundamental issues that threaten our very existence," Arad said. "The philosophy of the conference is one of self-assessment."[2]


Speakers included then Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Likud leader Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, Mossad head Ephraim Halevy and top IDF commanders.[2]


Amos Gilad

The Jerusalem Post reported the following assessment of Yasser Arafat by Amos Gilad of Aman:

Gilad said that Palestinian leaders must be listened to carefully, because there is a close link between what they say and later do.
Arafat is trying to build an infrastructure of terror for an extended violent confrontation should he not reach his diplomatic goals, Gilad said.
According to Gilad, the intelligence assessment is that Arafat is not preparing for anything less than a Palestinian state with Jerusalem and its holy sites as its capital. The boundaries the Palestinian leader is holding out for are "100 percent minus" which means the June 4, 1967 borders with only minor adjustments.
Gilad said Arafat is willing to wage a never-ending conflict with Israel to avoid going down in history as the Arab leader who conceded land in Jerusalem. Arafat already sees himself as someone who has made historical concessions, such as "Greater Palestine."[3]

Amos Malka

Aman chief Amos Malka warned of potential conflict with Hezbollah on Israel's northern border:

The top IDF intelligence officer said he did not foresee a conventional war breaking out with Syria, whose military is quickly aging. But he said that Damascus has invested in anti-tank missiles and surface-to-surface missiles which are capable of striking Israel's "soft underbelly." Malka characterized the rapprochement between Syria and Iraq as "worrisome," and said that Iraq is waiting for the opportunity to take an active role in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
Iraq has reportedly deployed two armored divisions along the Syrian border. While they do not have air cover and do not represent a serious probable threat to Israel, their symbolic presence close to Syria has raised concern in the IDF.
Malka said that Iran was bulldozing ahead with attempts to acquire long-range surface-to-surface missiles and nuclear weapons and that international efforts to prevent this were so far ineffective.[4]

Shaul Mofaz

Chief of staff Shaul Mofaz told the conference "that terror would accompany every stage of the peace process," the Jerusalem Post reported. "Mofaz said the Palestinian conflict was at the heart of the chances for stability in the region. He said that peace efforts were not a matter of weeks or months, but likely to last many years..[4]

Ephraim Halevy

Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy gave his first ever public address at the conference, the Jerusalem Post reported:

Asking more questions than giving answers, Halevy queried whether the Zionist state is responsible for those Jews in Israel who are not Zionist and whether Jews in the Diaspora, Zionist or not, should be given a Zionist "umbrella."
"What happens in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa has an impact on the plight of Jews in New York, London, and Moscow," he said.
"I believe that when an [Israeli] fighter sets out on a mission he isn't endangering his life only to protect the borders of the state and universal values," Halevy said. "When he endangers his life he is doing so with a very deep awareness and desire to protect the existence of the Jewish nation."
Noting that the Holocaust played an integral part in shaping Israel's security philosophy, Halevy said that Israel's security is significantly based on the words: "Never again."
"These two words have much significance - certainly practical and operative - and this is translated by the State of Israel everywhere, by its character and by its foreign relations and more," Halevy said.[5]

Later Coverage

Shlomo Gazit cited the conference in warning of a demographic threat to Israel's status as a Jewish state:

There are some among us who are not concerned. Anyone who envisions Israel as the state of "all its citizens" will not consider it a disaster if the state loses its Jewish-Zionist character. I think only a marginal minority supports that view. Most of Jewish Israel is not prepared to relinquish the Zionist dream and shares my concern.
This subject came up three months ago at the Herzliya Conference and the clear conclusions of the conference pointed to that existential threat as a concrete acute and grave threat. The conclusions also delineated a series of measures that need to be taken if we are to deal with the problem. Unfortunately I did not see the political system or the media try to confront those conclusions.[6]

Ahead of the Second Herzliya Conference former IDF intelligence chief Amos Gilboa told the Jerusalem Post, "last year's conference correctly assessed that Israel's resilience and steadfastness was a matter for examination as well as the dire need to address the country's demographic threats. But it failed to foresee the international threat of terror".[7]

According to journalist Jonathan Cook, the conference marked a sea-change in Israeli politics in the wake of the renewed Palestinian intifada:

For decades Israel had made a sharp distinction between the two main Palestinian population groups under its rule: the “Israeli Arabs”, who hold Israeli citizenship and whose Palestinian identity has traditionally been denied by the state, and the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories. From Herzliya onwards that policy was abandoned. All the Palestinians between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan were lumped together and reclassified in demographic terms — as an ethnic enemy poised to achieve numerical dominance.[8]


  1. The 1st Conference - 2000,, accessed 3 July 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Arieh O'Sullivan, Jerusalem Post, 19 December 2000.
  3. Daniel Doron, Assessing Israel's national strength, Jerusalem Post, 21 December 2000.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Arieh O'Sullivan, Intelligence head says Hizbullah is seeking to set off conflict, Jerusalem Post, 22 December 2000.
  5. Arieh O'sullivan, Mossad chief in first public address: Israel is responsible for all Jews in the world, Jerusalem Post, 22 December 2000.
  6. Shlomo Gazit, Demographic existential threat, Jerusalem Post, 28 March 2001.
  7. Arieh O'Sullivan, Conference debates its impact on policy, Jerusalem Post, 7 December 2001.
  8. Jonathan Cook, Herzliya Conference reveals Israeli plans after disengagement, Electronic Intifada, 27 January 2006.