Friday, September 11, 2009

China Journalizing from a Pillbox in Jabel Juhar

I arrived on kibbutz in early August having dodged a friend's request to stay in Jerusalem and help him open a new chapter in China's relations with Israel and the Jewish world. Sacrifice is part of the reason I will be joining the army come November so I never wavered in my decision to turn him down. My dodge was not, however, a total rejection. From my small room in the Valley of Bet She'an, I have remained a partner in a variety of projects to advance Sino-Israeli ties.

My initial activity was on behalf of the Israel Asia Center, the new advocacy headquarter for all things Asia in Israel (see here for prior note on the Center). The I/A Center had an ambitious plan to throw a grand coming out party in October. Speakers, locations, investors and even a catchy theme--celebrating China and Israel's 60 anniversaries--were all on the drawing board when the event came apart in late August due to differences of opinion amongst the founders of the center. Fortunately, before the sky fell in, I had yet to start working on the written program I was asked to create. So I escaped from the failed initiative with some lessons learned at little cost.

When the event came apart, one of the founders of the I/A Center quickly asked me to assist him in establishing the world's first international journal on the relationship between Asia and the Middle East. In order to give the journal a fighting chance of making it big, it is necessary to persuade a top-flight publishing house like Routledge to get behind the project. And in order to persuade them, a journal needs a killer proposal. Which is how I find myself writing a ten page proposal for an internationally refereed journal with the working title of The Inter Disciplinary Journal of Asian-Middle Eastern Studies, (nicely summarized as JAMES). With the help of friends in Washington and Nanjing--and with one very late night--the proposal was completed a full week before my deadline of Rosh Hashana.

What happens next is up to the publisher. I am confident they will embrace the project, though even if they do not I have already gained a great deal through conversations I had while writing the proposal with critical thinkers on the Sino-Middle East nexus like Ben Simpfendorfer, John Calabrese, John Chen and Aurora Carlson.

I am less sure how my involvement in the journal or other China related initiatives will evolve as my enlistment date approaches. A close friend captured the implausibility of my situation when he wrote "I can't wait to witness you managing the publication of an academic journal from a pillbox in Jabel Juhar....The fact that I can't picture it right now only increases the likelihood that it will happen, given that we are talking about you-know-who! ;)"

1 comment:

  1. I like this friend of yours. I couldn't agree with them more.