Participant Reflections [VIDEO]

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Charles Adu Boahen, Founder of Black Star Advisors and Primrose Properties Ghana Limited

Samuel Arthur, Executive Director of Merson Advisors Limited

Serge Nawej, Founder of SHAWEJ - ProximA

Bright Simons, President of mPedigree Network

Participant Reflections [VIDEOS]

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

George Lamprakos, Editor in Chief at “Action 24″ TV Channel in Greece

Participant Reflections [VIDEOS]

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Michael Brenner, Cornell University

Nick Bullard, University of Wisconsin Law School

CJ Demmer, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Rhea Fernandez, Yale University

Lauren Godles, Harvard University

Thomas Irwin, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Kassandra Maldonando, University of California, Berkeley

Isidora Thomas, University of California, Los Angeles

Kol Israel Radio featuring Malcom Lazin

Monday, November 4th, 2013

On November 3rd 2013, Malcom Lazin was interviewed by Kol Israel radio.  Hear the interview below:

The complete November 3rd broadcast can be found by going to  Kol Israel radio, selecting “English” then hitting the ‘+” button.  Then select 03.11.13 and hear the full broadcast.  Malcom Lazin’s segment can be found at the 9:32 mark.  This post will be up on the Kol Israel site until November 13th, 2013.

Kol Israel Radio Interview with Portland State University President Wim Wiewel

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Wim Wiewel, President of Portland State University, was interviewed by Kol Israel Radio while in Israel for the University Presidents Seminar which went from June 29 through July 7th, 2013. In this interview, President Weivel his experiences and what he’s learned to date from the seminar.

Spotlight On…IsraAID: The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Spotlight On…IsraAID: The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid

Project Interchange spoke with Ophelie Namiech, Regional Coordinator - East and Central Africa, for IsraAID: The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid. For more information, check out IsraAID’s Facebook page:

Ophelie is based in South Sudan for IsraAID. After working as an advisor for the United Nations in New York, first for the delegation of the European Community to the UN and then for the UN Security Council, Ophelie emigrated to Israel in February 2011; just a few months before South Sudan gained its independence. Ophelie then moved to South Sudan in December of 2011 on behalf of IsraAID.

Photo Caption: IsraAID’s Ophelie Namiech Working on Gender Violence Education Programs in South Sudan with Social Workers and Police

Here is a look at IsraAID’s impressive efforts helping the people of South Sudan.

Q. Ophelie, what drove you to move to South Sudan and work there for IsraAID, an Israeli NGO?

A. When I worked at the United Nations in New York, I learned about and experience the special relationship that unites Israel and South Sudan. I both wanted to move to Israel and work in South Sudan. I refused all other jobs despite my experience working for the United Nations, because I felt it was so important to help South Sudan with nation-building. There are two countries that I am most passionate about: Israel and South Sudan and working in South Sudan through IsraAID was the perfect opportunity.

Q. What are the areas IsraAID focuses on in South Sudan?

A. In South Sudan, IsraAID’s focus is sustainable development. IsraAID first went to South Sudan one week after South Sudan gained independence, and our response was emergency situation/disaster relief, focused mainly in the capital. IsraAID’s work and focus then shifted to sustainable development in particular, or “social development”. Specifically, we have focused on women and children, and especially the issue of gender-based violence and child protection. In South Sudan, unfortunately, gender-based violence is widespread. During the war, rape was widely used as an instrument of war and there are also cultural issues regarding rape. Obviously, this has an enormous and detrimental impact on society that remains largely unaddressed.

Our focus therefore, has been to develop and implement a two-year model in South Sudan, working side by side with and training South Sudanese service providers; particularly police and social workers. The focus is to train these important service providers and to work together to help develop their own programs according to their needs and values so that when we leave, the progress continues because it is their program.

Q. Describe some of the specific programs IsraAID is engaged with South Sudan on the issues of gender-based violence and child protection.

A. Currently, our program is in its second year, the implementation phase. We have several projects which are divided into Prevention and Response projects.

Prevention projects involve police and social workers going to schools together to talk to and educate the kids in order to raise awareness about gender-based violence, for example to explain how and why rape is wrong. The goal is to raise awareness and education, along with increased advocacy. This is very organized and structured.

An example of the Response Projects would include specific types of social programs. For example, if an 8-year old girl is raped, how do you respond? What do you do? We educate people on counseling, and accompanying the victim both through medical and legal process.

For the first time, this work is conducted jointly by the police and social workers. Before IsraAID arrived, there was no cooperation. Now, the cooperation is quite successful and we are seeing significant results and impact.

Q. How long does IsraAID plan to work in South Sudan?

A. In other countries, IsraAID typically has a five-year exit strategy, with many country-specific programs typically lasting between two and five years. South Sudan is a unique situation since it is a totally new country. Of course, resources will have a big impact on how long we will be able to work with the South Sudanese.

Q. What are South Sudanese reactions when they learn you are Israeli?

A. It’s amazing, actually. When people hear that we are from Israel, it is actually an asset. Israel was present in South Sudan as far back as 1955. In Juba, the capital, you actually see Israeli flags flying everywhere. There is a strong connection between South Sudan and Israel, and it is very warm. This relationship is quite unique and promising with respect to promoting opportunities in international cooperation. I’m very proud to represent Israel in South Sudan. IsraAID and Israelis were the first to go to South Sudan and offer assistance in the humanitarian sector and it is very nice to work in South Sudan as an Israeli.

University Presidents Interview: INR Walter’s World

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

PI’s Executive Director Sam Witkin was interviewed byIsrael National Radio on Walter’s World and originally broadcast July 15th, 2012. Among other highlights, Sam mentions the impact that this trip has on international university cooperation.   Lawrence Biondi, president of St. Louis University, and Randy Woodson, from North Carolina State University, were also interviewed. Hear the full interview here.

Dorthy Leland Interview: Kol Yisrael English Radio

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Dorothy Leland was interviewed by Kol Yisrael English Radio on July 5th, 2012. Among other highlights, she mentions “There is absolutely no substitute for actually visiting a country”. You can hear her  full interview below.


Kol Israel Radio Interview With University Presidents

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Please listen to the link below for an interview with George Martin, President of St. Edwards University about the 2011 University Presidents Seminar in Israel.

Click here

Zeyno Baran Interview

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Zeyno Baran, Director of the Center for Eurasian Policy and Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute. (Military and Strategic Analysts, August 2006)

1. How would you characterize the political relationship between Turkey and Israel? Could you share with us your sense of how that relationship has evolved in the past years and where you see it heading?

Overall, relations between Turkey and Israel have been good. Moreover, this relationship has remained solid despite changes of government in both countries. This is not to say there have not been tensions. In particular, with the eruption of the second intifada and the election in Turkey of a ruling party that is more overtly Islamic in nature, there have been times in recent years when relations between Ankara and Jerusalem were strained. However, I believe things are better now.

Future relations depend heavily on the course that events in the Middle East take. Clearly, the region is unstable and its future path uncertain. If Israel supports a US strike against Iran—or engages in one itself—that will be a huge problem for Israeli-Turkish relations. And if Iraq continues to drift towards disintegration and Israel is perceived to be supportive of an independent Kurdistan, relations between Turkey and Israel would sour dramatically.

2. How would you describe common public perceptions or sentiment towards Israel?  In what sectors do you find the most support or hostility towards Israel?

Overall, public support for the Western world in Turkey has flagged dramatically in recent years. This includes the US and the EU along with Israel. Yet this drop in popularity has not corresponded to a rise in popularity for any other state or group. In general, Turks are going through tough times right now.

The most hostility towards Israel is found, unsurprisingly, among the Islamists and those in Turkey who believe that a neo-conservative agenda influenced by Israel is driving US policy. The most support for Israel comes from within the traditional secular elite, as they hold many of the same security concerns (such as terrorism from Hamas and Hizbullah, and the threat posed by Iran) that Israel does.

3. Could you summarize Turkish foreign policy priorities and goals in the Middle East?

Turkey remains oriented in a Westward-leaning direction; it is a long-time NATO member and continues to work for EU membership. Within the Middle East, its overarching goal is to maintain stability and establish good relations with all its neighbors. Since Turkey’s neighbors include countries like Syria and Iran, this goal creates some confusion in the West regarding Turkey’s loyalties. Recently, Turkey’s Middle East policy has become fixated on the concern of PKK terrorism and the looming specter of an independent Kurdistan.

Turkey enjoys good relations with its Black Sea neighbors as well as with the Central Asian States. In the Caucasus, Turkey is close with Georgia and Azerbaijan, although not with Armenia. This tension is unlikely to improve until the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is resolved. Moreover, the allegations of Armenian genocide levied against Turkey are still an extremely sore issue. Indeed, the fact that a number of Western countries’ parliaments are now passing resolutions that explicitly recognize the Armenian claims of genocide—as France has done and the US is considering—directly affects Turkish relations with those countries. Turkey also enjoys a relatively good relationship with Russia. Not only is Russia a key economic partner of Turkey, it shares Turkey’s goals of stability and maintaining the status quo in the region.

4. How has Turkey’s reaction to the new Hamas-led Palestinian government affected its role as an arbiter in the Middle East peace process? How has it affected its relationship with Israel?

I believe Turkish policy toward the Hamas-led government has led to considerable confusion. Traditional Turkish foreign policy establishment regards Hamas as a terrorist organization, and many in Turkey were surprised that the government would invite a Hamas leader to Ankara—and not even one of the elected leaders, but Khalid Mashal, who resides in Damascus and is one of the group’s most controversial leaders. I think this damaged Israel’s trust in the Turkish leadership. I am also not sure if Ankara’s efforts even helped the Palestinian side, especially in terms of relieving the tension between Hamas and Fatah.

In any case, I don’t think that Turkey plays a key role in the Middle East peace process. It does, however, desire and hope that there will be peace and stability for both the Arabs and the Israelis. But judging from recent Turkish statements, it looks like Turkey will not play an enlarged role in any future peace process. In fact, Turkey’s involvement may diminish in the coming months due to the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

5. If Israel and Turkey do agree to construction on an oil pipeline, how do you think this might affect the energy politics of the region?

This oil pipeline project would increase Israeli-Turkish cooperation, providing a link between the two countries—both figuratively and literally. Given the long-term nature of pipeline projects and supply contracts, the positive effects of this project would last for quite a while. Clearly, it is a smart strategic decision; the only question now is whether it is economically viable.

6. How has the Armenian Genocide Bill in US Congress impacted the nature of Turkey’s relationship with Israel and the US?

It goes without saying that allegations of genocide are a serious matter. Thus, it should come as no surprise that if this bill passes, it would seriously damage US-Turkey relations. (It was not brought up, as many expected, before April 24, although it could still be raised at a later date.) However, the passage of this bill will also damage relations with Israel. American-Israeli lobby groups have typically been some of the strongest allies for the Turks on this issue. The successful passage of an Armenian Genocide Bill would signal a failure on the part of those lobbyists, or, more likely, a policy shift. Turks would feel betrayed by such a move as they have long felt that the Jews understood that genocide and ethnic cleansing operations are not in the Turkish historical makeup. It was, after all, Turkey who gave refuge to the Jews when they were facing ethnically-motivated violence during the Spanish Inquisition.

7. What are your thoughts on the role of political Islam in Turkey and the AKP party? What do you make of the common characterization of Turkey as a moderate Muslim country and what challenges may Turkey face in the future? What suggestions might you have for European countries recently coming to terms with the need to integrate immigrant, often Muslim, populations?

Globally, political Islam is on the rise. Although the AKP is a coalition party that includes Islamic groups, its leadership has evolved to become less Islamist than it was 10 or even 5 years ago. It is becoming more of a conservative democratic party than an Islamist one. But because political Islam is rising within Turkey, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the AKP leadership to distance itself from the movement’s groundswell of support. This has led to greater tensions within Turkey.

Turkey should not be labeled as a “moderate Muslim” country but as a “secular democratic country with a Muslim majority.” This is an important distinction as the title “moderate Muslim” has been hijacked by Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. This creates confusion when the term is later applied to Turkey. Furthermore, it is both factually and politically incorrect to refer to Turkey as a Muslim state since it is not defined as such in its constitution; in fact, Turkey is explicitly described as a secular country.

For over four decades, European countries have largely ignored the issue of integrating their ever-growing Muslim populations. Nearly 20 million Muslims live in Europe, yet only recently (particularly after 9/11) have their European leaderships realized that integration should be a priority. Thus, even 2nd and 3rd generation European Muslims largely feel ignored by their new states—and it is these Muslims who often feel the greatest discontent. There are very diverse concerns within the various Muslim communities across Europe and thus distinct policies need to be developed to address those concerns. For example, a French citizen of Algerian descent mired in poverty and living in a Parisian ghetto might be more concerned with just finding a job than with identity. But for a British-Pakistani man with a college degree living in London, the issues of identity and integration are of the utmost importance. Thus, it is impossible to develop a single “European” response because there is no single “Muslim” alienation. The specific grievances the various communities have need to be understood better before significant progress can be made.

8. You traveled to Israel on an educational seminar in August 2006.  Could you share with us some of most people you met and places you found most interesting or memorable?

I was most struck by my visit to Kiryat Shmona. We stayed the night there, heard the rockets pass by overhead, and spoke with the people who actually lived there. This was extremely interesting for me and allowed me to really understand the mood of the inhabitants of this border city. Over the course of the week, we met with a very impressive group of people from the government and academic community as well. In addition, the delegation I traveled with in Israel was, itself, very interesting; I learned a lot from them and I hope that they were able to learn from me.

9. Project Interchange is based on the premise that personal travel and experience in Israel can significantly advance and expand participant’s understanding of Israel.  How did your experiences and those of your colleagues support this notion?

I wholeheartedly agree. Traveling in Israel, seeing how Israelis framed the issues, and hearing their views and concerns firsthand is an incomparable learning experience. It really gives one a much deeper understanding of the country and its people.

10. Do you have any suggestions or advice for Project Interchange as we develop future programs from Turkey?

Future programs should definitely continue to include a visit to Yad Vashem. Many Turks have little knowledge of Jewish history and do not realize that some of the things they have grown up believing are wrong and—in some cases—anti-Semitic. It would be helpful to have organized discussions on Judaism and these prejudices. Also, it would be extremely valuable for Turks to have the chance to visit some of the Islamic and Christian Holy Sites during their time in Israel.