Rhodes Scholars in Israel to examine Arab-Jewish coexistence


A delegation of 10 prominent Rhodes Scholars are in Israel March 24-29, for a first-hand look at the Jewish state, including its political, historical, cultural, technological, strategic and religious dimensions.  

The educational seminar, which includes participants from the United States, Australia, Kenya, and New Zealand, is sponsored by Project Interchange, an educational institute of AJC.

During the course of their Project Interchange seminar in Israel, the Rhodes Scholars will participate in-depth briefings related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli and Palestinian politics and society, high tech solutions to world problems, Israel as a "Start Up Nation", and meetings with Israeli and Palestinian policymakers, academics, and government officials.

One of the scholars, 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."

Iona Mylek added: "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."

During the seminar, participants will examine economic development, pluralism, integration and absorption of immigrants, strategic and security issues, education, the public health system, Arab-Jewish coexistence, and the pursuit of peace. They will also visit areas of historical, strategic and religious importance.

"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," said Daniel Shih, another participant.

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