Blog Day 1

November 1st, 2016

Seminar in Israel for Latino Opinion and Policy Leaders
Blog Day 1, October 31, 2016

Note: A delegation of Latino Opinion and Policy Leaders is in Israel with AJC Project Interchange and AJC Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs (BILLA). BILLA Director Dina Siegal Vann is accompanying the delegation in Israel, with participants blogging about their experiences in Israel.

Today’s blog was submitted by Raul Rodriguez, Chairman, U.S.-Mexico Foundation and Associate Vice President for International Affairs, Tecnologico de Moterrey.

To say that a visit to Israel is an enlightening experience is an understatement. For our group, it represents an introduction to this confluence of civilizations, a primordial point of reference for our own Latino experience as diasporas.

Our visit had a wonderful and most propitious opening. Einat Wilf is a wealth of knowledge and perspective, a most eloquent speaker. In barely over an hour she provided us with an overview of Israel’s history and perspectives. She presented a framework describing Israel as a foundational idea, as a nation of immigration, as a nation-state, and as a locus of dilemmas and conflict. She underscored the strengths and vulnerabilities of Israel’s project as a nation, imbued by a unique spirit of making the impossible possible. A project that in its essence reflects the open, inclusive, egalitarian foundational drive.

Visiting the Arab-Jewish Coexistence and Youth Leadership with Ibrahim Abu Shindi gave us a taste of the challenges and opportunities of the Israeli identity. Their efforts to bring people from the divide to meet, learn, work and play together reveals the balancing act between prejudice on the one hand, and tolerance and understanding on the other.

Our lunch discussion with Avital Leibovich, Director of AJC Jerusalem, provided us with an overview of Israel’s domestic and regional geo-strategic challenges: the Middle East in general, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank, and the Temple Mount. We sensed a country striving to position itself as best possible, in the middle of the uncertainties of the Arab context.

Our first day concluded with a guided tour of the Ytzhak Rabin Center, a splendid display of Israel’s evolution as a nation and of Rabin’s personal role. The day ended up giving us a glimpse of the multilayered and fascinating reality called Israel.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Project Interchange.