Around 300 Israeli Druze are for the first time to be allowed into Syria for a religious visit after they were given permission by the interior ministry, the head of Israel's Druze community said on Thursday.
What’s changed about the climate for cultural relations between the peoples of the world? Pretty obvious, the global economic crisis. On the eve of the G20 summit, cultural relations might seem marginal, irrelevant or a luxury we can’t afford. All the answers surely lie with international institutions, diplomats and politicians, not international education and cultural links. And as for international consensus on climate change, can we afford to care any more?
In today's 24/7 news environment, governments have it hard. In my experience, working at the centre of UK government in the Cabinet Office, I found that government has to know its position on everything and be able to articulate it in a sound bite. You have to be either 'for' or 'against' any proposition, policy proposal or idea. You cannot be equivocal; you cannot have a nuanced view. If it's a significant policy or issue, then you have to be crystal clear. When government isn't clear, the media pursue, challenge and provoke you in 24 hour news cycles until you are clear.
At the British Council – the UK’s international cultural and educational body – we’ve been thinking about what we call the International Relations Positioning Spectrum. It draws on work by Nick Cull and work done by Ali Fisher and Counterpoint, our cultural relations think tank on ‘'Options for Influence’.