Blog Post Day 3, Indian American Opinion and Policy Leaders

November 17th, 2016

Note: A delegation of Indian American Opinion and Policy Leaders is in Israel with AJC Project Interchange and AJC Asia Pacific Institute. The delegation is accompanied by Shira Loewenberg, Director, AJC Asia Pacific Institute, and Nissim Reuben, Assistant Director, AJC Asia Pacific Institute.

Day Three of our Delegation in Israel

Today was another full and substantive day of learning. As one participant commented, “Each day tops the next!”

We began with a guided tour of the excellent Yitzhak Rabin Museum, learning about Israeli history through the lens of Rabin’s involvement as a military man and political actor from Israel’s birth to his assassination. The participants were impressed by the museum, with a member remarking on how well designed the exhibition is, calling it “a fantastic museum.” The group engaged with the material, asking many questions, and was moved by the historic narrative and the leaders involved.

Lunch with Israeli Ambassador Reda Mansour was excellent. He shared his perspective on the US-Israel relationship, and also commented on BRIC countries based on his experience as Ambassador to Brazil. As a Druze Israeli, his experience was especially interesting to the group, as he also commented on Arab-Israeli relations and the Palestinian issue. It was a very interactive lunch with a lot of Q & A. Ambassador Mansour spoke warmly of his posting as Israeli Consul General in Atlanta from 2006-2010 and his many interactions with the Indian-American leaders namely PI 2005 Alum Ritesh Desai in promoting the India-Israel Relations narrative in partnership with AJC.

The afternoon included meetings with two Knesset (Parliament) members, women of opposing political parties, Anat Berko of the Likud and Ksenia Sverlova of the Hamahane Hazioni (Zionist Union) Party. Both MK’s (Members of Knesset) emphasized security as the issue of paramount concern for their parties and themselves, personally, and conveyed nuanced messages about the ways they approach these issues as well as the domestic challenges Israelis confront.

Participants had vigorous discussions with Dr. Reuven Hazan, who explained the workings of Israeli political system, and with Dr. Ephraim Inbar, who spoke about terrorism and counter-terrorism. Both meetings raised many questions and comments, and were remarked upon by members of the group as being excellent in providing needed information and perspectives. Dr. Inbar also spoke about India-Israel Security Relations and cooperation between both countries in fighting terror as well as terror groups faced by both countries.

We ended the day with a post-dinner tour of the Western Wall tunnels and a visit to the Western Wall. The long Jewish history of Jerusalem, the ancient ties of the Jewish people to the city and site, as well as the accessibility of the Western Wall plaza to all people today, was remarked upon favorably. They are eager to return to the Old City of Jerusalem later in the week.

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