September 2012 Newsletter

Dear PI Alumni,

The month of September finds us in the busy month of the Jewish High Holidays, or High Holy Days, a time of introspection, reflection, and hope for a great year ahead.

Even with the busy Holy Day season in Israel, Project Interchange recently concluded seminars for Chilean Journalists and Policy Makers, and German Civic and Policy Leaders, and we are busily finalizing details for 8 seminars over the next 90 days.

While you’re reading this update, listen to the hit song MiMa’amakim (Out of the Depths) by famous Israeli artist Idan Raichel.   If you are looking for a good movie, you can try the recent Israeli movie“Footnote” or other Israeli films that have been nominated for Academy AwardsTM. Or check outHomeland, the TV series that just won the EmmyTM Award for Best TV Drama Series in the US. What’s the connection to Israel? Homeland is based on Hatufim, an Israeli series.

Read on for more information and feel free to share this update.

With best wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year,

Sam

Announcing PI’s “Israel Unwrapped” Conference Call Series: Updates by Experts on Issues Affecting Israel

PI alumni know that access to important information about Israel and the region only begins with your participation on a PI seminar. As an educational institute of AJC, Project Interchange conducts ongoing alumni programming on key issues.

We are proud to announce PI’s  Monthly “Israel Unwrapped” Conference Call Series.  Our “Israel Unwrapped” series formalizes the expert tele-briefings we have held with world experts with calls taking place once a month. Some calls explore topics behind the headlines, while others feature other facets of Israeli society. While the topics vary, we hope that the calls will serve as a natural extension to learning about Israel through-and-beyond-the headlines.

As the kickoff for the first “Israel Unwrapped” call, Dr. Asher Susser, Senior Fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, and a world-renowned expert on the Middle East, led a fascinating briefing and update on “The Conflict in Syria and its Implications for Israel and the Region”.  PI alumni from around the world – from such locations as: Brazil, Chile, Spain, Turkey and across the United States – from California to Texas to Georgia to New Jersey, all participated in the timely and sobering briefing, moderated by Jason Isaacson, Director of AJC’s Office of Government and International Affairs.

Stay tuned for an email about the October call.

Chilean Opinion Leaders Seminar

A delegation of Chilean officials, journalists, and academics traveled to Israel at the end of August to explore a wide range of issues on Israeli politics, society, and economics. The delegation included: Member of Parliament Patricio Melero; Mayor of Santiago Cecilia Perez; Mayor of Peñalolén and Presidential candidate Claudio Orrego; Director General of Chilevision Jaime de Aguirre and other prominent journalists from various news agencies.

The Israeli experience in areas such as education, innovation and social policies is very relevant to Chile, as the two countries face many of the same challenges and conditions.  In fact, the last year has seen a significant uptick in efforts from Chilean universities and government agencies to better explore Israeli expertise in the areas of renewable energy, desert agriculture, water efficiency, and technological innovation.

The delegation discussed issues such as Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, the impact of the Holocaust, human rights, Jewish settlements, the Iranian nuclear threat, and the Arab-Israeli community. The delegation expressed surprise about the diversity and internal conflicts of Israel, and grew to appreciate its vibrant, bustling democratic nature. In addition, the delegation attended high-level meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah. Visits to the Old City of Jerusalem, Jaffa, the Sea of Galilee, Sderot, and the Golan Heights gave participants the chance to experience for themselves the complexity and diversity in Israeli history, society, and politics.

PI organized this seminar in collaboration with AJC’s Latino and Latin American Institute (LLAI) and the Jewish Community of Chile.  Juan Dircie, Associate Director of AJC/LLAI’s Miami Office staffed the seminar.  Prior to departure, Community leaders and many participants attended a pre-departure reception hosted by the Israeli Ambassador in Santiago.

German Civic Leaders

“The seminar has tripled my knowledge about Israel, the peace process, and the political dilemnas and constraints. I will use this knowledge in my work as a diplomat in many ways.” – Klaus Botzet, Head of the USA and Canada Division, Federal Foreign Office.

A delegation of German journalists, political officers, and academics participated in a Project Interchange seminar in early September.

Israeli government officials and academic experts provided an overview of Israeli civil society including religious pluralism, Arab-Israeli coexistence, and civil rights. A visit to the Bialik-Rogozin School, which serves students from 50 countries and was featured in an Academy-AwardTM winning documentary, provided a powerful example of Israel’s diversity and human rights efforts. Participants also learned about press freedom and domestic issues from journalists and the impact of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem.

Participants met with settlers in a Jewish settlement, met with politicians working on Palestinian-Israeli co-existence near Gilboa, and toured the Golan Heights with a strategic expert. A tour of Ramallah and meetings with Palestinians and Arab Israelis added significantly to the range of viewpoints the delegation encountered. The seminar was staffed by Deidre Berger, Director of the AJC Berlin Office/Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations.