Karlsruhe Dialogues 2012

Everything in (dis)order? New obscurities in a globalized world

Shimon Stein



Shimon Stein

Born in Israel in 1948, H. E. Shimon Stein joined the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1974, where he worked as chief analyst at the Centre for Political Research, and where he focused on political-military relations, transatlantic relations, European integration, and European foreign relations. From 1980 to 1985, he served as advisor for political relations at the Israeli Embassy in Bonn. Shimon Stein took part in the 1984 CSCE Conference as a member of the Israeli delegation. He was the executive director of the North America division of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem beginning in 1985, and from 1986 to 1988 he served as deputy director of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Following this, he worked until 1993 as ministerial advisor at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. From 1993 to 1997, Shimon Stein was Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem. As the Israeli Ambassador, he lived from 2001 to 2007 in Germany, where he forged ties to Germany’s political, scientific, and cultural elite. He has been working as an international advisor since 2007, and was a visiting professor at the University of Jena from 2009 to 2010. He has been a Fellow of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University since 2009.
ZAK asked Shimon Stein to answer the following questions:

1. Has our need for security grown, or has our perception of danger  and  uncertainty simply changed?

Just like societies, individuals had, have, and will continue to have a need for security. This is in the nature of mankind. What is changing, first of all, is reality, as well as our perception of this changing reality (here, the perception is much more important than ‘reality’ itself, for this perception is ultimately the reference point for politics).
The perception of both our immediate and our general situation has indeed changed, and with it the feeling of danger and uncertainty. Without a doubt, globalisation and growing interdependencies contribute to this. The financial state of affairs, social situations, fears of losing social status, the individual’s impotence in the face of institutions, natural catastrophes (a result of the environmental damage that we ourselves have caused), terror, etc., all contribute to the feeling of uncertainty. The media play a central role in forming this perception, for they constantly (and most often in a superficial and indiscriminate way) confront us with bad news, thereby further increasing our feeling of uncertainty. To sum this up in an ‘objective’ manner, our need for security – and with it feelings of danger, helplessness, and impotence – has grown because the situation has become more complex.

2. In light of the current crisis, should more decision-making authority be transferred to European institutions/organs?

If the crisis causes member states to move toward closer cooperation, or indeed toward complete integration in the form of a fiscal-political union, then the decision-making authority will perforce have to be turned over to institutions such as the European Commission and the European Parliament. Whether this option will indeed be the preferred one remains to be seen. One thing is clear, however: continuing with the status quo is not an option if a way out of this crisis is to be found.