Trip Blog - Day Two

September 8th, 2015

Editor’s Note: Randy Czarlinsky, AJC Houston Regional Director, is in Israel with Project Interchange’s delegation of diplomats and is blogging about the delegation’s experiences.

In a day focusing on the international stage, from BDS (the systemic campaign of boycotts, divestments, sanctions against Israel) to Palestinian-Israeli issues, the diplomatic seminar participants saw and heard the complexity of settlements and boycotts first-hand.

Discussion in Ariel

Discussion in Ariel

Taking in the Barkan Industrial Park, the delegation met with CEO Yehudah Cohen who described his philosophy for peace as follows: “Israeli and Palestinian staff working side by side generates hope for peace.” He added that despite a Palestinian workforce of nearly 60 percent in his plastics factory, the Palestinian Authority bars the products from being sold. Having built the company and this endeavor with his own funds, Cohen also had criticism for the Israeli government as he tries to move his products globally.

Diplomats on a walk through Tel Aviv’s famed Rothschild Boulevard, learning its historical and current usage, as a start-up center, but also center for social protests.

Diplomats on a walk through Tel Aviv’s famed Rothschild Boulevard, learning its historical and current usage, as a start-up center, but also center for social protests.

Meeting with the CEO of Lipski Plastic in Barkan Industrial Park

Meeting with the CEO of Lipski Plastic in Barkan Industrial Park


The Arabic School in Lod, one of the poorest Israeli cities, is fulfilling the dream of its founding principal, Shirin Natour Hafi. A Muslim woman educated in Israeli Jewish schools, she is focused on recruiting and getting involved in the 1,200 7th through 12th grade students’ lives. She added that the process has taken a great deal of time, but that she has the respect of the students. Having had to deal with family clans in the neighborhood, she has overcome initial resistance to educating girls and her own role in the community. One diplomat noted this school is providing a future for the neighborhood and is building the nation’s future.

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