Blog Post - Day 1

December 7th, 2017

Today began, as the best days in Israel always do, with a scrumptious breakfast at our lovely hotel. After eating our fill in the seaside dining room, our group moved upstairs to hear from Professor Yossi Shain, from the political science department at TAU, and a member of Israel’s National Council for Academic Affairs. He provided an excellent overview of the different sectors in Israeli society, a taste of the country’s politics, and a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at the decision-making process in the higher ed institutions.

This lecture, coupled with a truly sterling briefing from AJC Jerusalem Director Lt. Col. (res.) Avital Leibovich about Israel’s relations with its neighbors, provided an excellent foundation of knowledge upon which to build.

After departing the hotel, we enjoyed a brief tour of Jaffa as we made our way to our next session, which took place at a cultural house in Jaffa’s old city. We heard from the founders of that institution over lunch, and then took in a panel of three impressive social entrepreneurs. The presidents were certainly familiar with Israel’s reputation as a high-tech start-up nation. This session, which highlighted projects in the fields of urban reclamation, assistive technologies, and inclusion, exposed them to the social entrepreneurship that thrives in Israel’s start-up culture.

Social entrepreneur Abass Abass who founded an organization to support disability rights and empowerment within Arab Israeli society briefs the University Presidents delegation

Social entrepreneur Abass Abass who founded an organization to support disability rights and empowerment within Arab Israeli society briefs the University Presidents delegation

Before departing Jaffa, we heard from Galit Roichman, an Israel screenwriter who, using clips from Israeli television shows, served as our own personal “Netflix”, providing an enthralling window onto Israeli society.

After a short break, we ended our day at Bar Ilan University, where we were hosted by President Arie Zaban. President Zaban and many members of his administration spoke with our group about what makes Bar Ilan unique, and extolled the benefits of American-Israel academic partnerships. Our participants engaged eagerly!

We’re off to bed now, after a very full day (with very full stomachs), looking forward to another excellent day tomorrow!

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