March 2012 Newsletter

March Roared in…as did Project Interchange

Like the proverbial March roaring in like a lion, Project Interchange developed and led six successive delegations to Israel over the past two months, from French Parliamentarians to European Energy Leaders to Rhodes Scholars.

Rhodes Scholar Iona Mylek noted, “What has most surprised me about Israel is the diversity and dynamism of Israeli and Palestinian society. I have a much deeper appreciation for the complexities and contradictions of just living here.”

Read more or view pictures here.

Seminar Report: French Parlimentarians

Just days after the horrific terror attacks on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, a delegation of French Members of Parliament visited Israel to pay respects to the mourning family and participate in intensive dialogue and briefings through Project Interchange, AJC and MedBridge Strategy Center. Read more.

Read English and French media coverage:

Times of Israel: French politicians pay respects to Toulouse victims’ families

MPs brought to Israel as part of program aimed at strengthening Franco-Israeli ties

JTA: French lawmakers pay condolence calls in Jerusalem

Agence France Presse

Le Figaro

The Jerusalem Post

Seminar Report: Rhodes Scholars

Ten prominent Rhodes Scholars from the U.S., Australia, Kenya, and New Zealand traveled to Israel through Project Interchange, March 24-29. Rhodes Scholarships are the most celebrated international graduate scholarships in the world, which bring outstanding students from many countries to Oxford. Rhodes Scholars often go on to become the “Who’s Who of World Leaders.” Read more.

Some Rhodes Scholars’ impressions about Israel:

Varun Sivaram said, “I’m a scientist. I study physics. The real gem for me in Israel was learning about hi-tech. It gave a whole new dimension to the peace process. Because for the innovators here, the conflict is an annoyance – it’s getting in the way of the real progress. The Middle East conflict is hindering the progress of technology.”

Daniel Shih noted, “I’ve learned about the Israeli perspective … they face a real existential threat. And I’ve learned about the challenges Palestinians face internally with respect to corruption and unaccountability of the PLO and the rise of Hamas’ leadership, in ability to control their own government as well as the settlement issue as the source of dissatisfaction and outrage which is going to pose a real challenge to peace in the future.”

YNET article: Rhodes Scholars in Israel to examine Arab-Jewish coexistence

Seminar Report: Boston Leadership Seminar

PI and AJC Boston collaborated on a highly successful seminar for prominent political, religious, and community leaders from Boston, including: the U.S. Ambassador to Norway; the Co-editor of “Arab Spring Dreams”; a Greek Orthodox Priest and Ecumenical Officer; and Minister and President of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ.

AJC Boston Region Director Rob Leikind recruited and staffed this important seminar, which provided the opportunity for frank discussions, while continuing to further strengthen relationships between American political, religious and community leaders with their counterparts in Israel.

“I got a tangible feel for the Jewish state’s liberal ethos, including the forces that are challenging it, and how Israeli civil society is responding and adapting…This will also help me deepen local bonds—at a personal level—with members of the Jewish community here in Boston and beyond.”- Sohrab Ahmari

“Site visits and interviews such as these will inform my views, lectures and writings on mid-east politics. Observing differences between Israeli-Jews and Arab-Israelis as well as Palestinians will inform my lectures at universities and in public about Muslims in the West as well as my writings on this broad topic…I developed bonds on this trip that I assume and hope will lead to more contact with AJC and the Jewish community.”-          Professor Peter Skerry, Boston College

Read the article in Tablet Magazine by seminar participant Sohrab Ahmari

Seminar Report: Leaders of Argentinian Civil Society

Directors of 11 Argentinean non-profit and civic organizations traveled to Israel with Project Interchange, in cooperation with AJC’s Latino and Latin American Institute and AMIA, the Argentine Jewish community.

AMIA is planning a seminar alumni reunion in Buenos Aires and participants are planning a photo exhibit of the seminar to share their experiences widly.

Seminar Report: European Energy Leaders

European policy experts, gas industry representatives, and parliamentarians with expertise in energy issues participated in a PI seminar with hands on visits and briefings designed to enhance collaboration between Israeli and European government, energy, and scientific organizations. Of note, the Chairperson of the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority extended his stay to meet with Israeli energy sector leaders and government officials.

Read more here at the PI website.

U-C Irvine Chancellor (PI Alum) and Deans Visit Israel

In 2010, during an on-campus speech, in an incident that made national headlines, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was aggressively interrupted multiple times by a group of students at UC Irvine.  UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake( a 2008 University Presidents Seminar Alumnus) was one of the first to speak out against the attacks.  In an exciting update, just last week, Chancellor Drake conducted a follow up trip to Israel with three UC Irvine deans in order to enhance international research collaboration and student and faculty exchances between Israeli universities and UC Irvine.  Project Interchange was involved in this follow up trip.  Read the UC Irvine Press Release.

Project Interchange Leadership Trip to Israel 2012

The second annual PI Leadership Trip to Israel just concluded after impressive and informative meetings with Israeli and Palestinian opinion leaders and policy makers, as well as site visits to key areas in Israel and Ramallah.  AJC’s Ambassador Aaron Jacob joined the delegation. One of the meetings included a briefing with leading Israeli journalist and politician Yair Lapid, in photo at the right.