On July 9 we had a very exciting event--our first in person encounter in 18 months, since February 2020!! The US Embassy’s Public Diplomacy office hosted us at their new Tel Aviv office. The outdoor patio overlooking the beach was perfect for a Covid-19 regulations friendly encounter. We received a warm welcome from the embassy, and a short discussion about the challenges of conducting diplomacy virtually. Participants were Muslim, Jewish, Druze and Agnostic, spanning a wide range of ages and origins, and it was great to see friendly faces old and new.
August 27--Following the shocking headlines of the Taliban overrunning Kabul and taking over Afghanistan, we held a Zoom with American diplomat Jessica Tesoriero. Jessica shared photos and stories from her experiences serving at the US Embassy in Kabul prior to coming to Tel Aviv, and students got the chance to ask questions.
September 2, Zoom about Afghanistan part II -- after the successful Zoom last week on the topic of Afghanistan, we held a follow up session with retired US diplomat Terry Davidson. Terry, who had also gone from Kabul to Tel Aviv in his last two positions, talked about his time serving in Afghanistan, the friendships he made, and his hopes and concerns for the future of the country.
Friday September 17 -we got back to in person encounters, with a briefing by Ambassador O’Sullivan at the Irish embassy in Ramat Gan. The ambassador and his deputy chief of mission talked about their careers and Irish-Israel relations, as well as answering questions from students, ranging from environmental policy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Wednesday, September 22 --after our encounter was delayed twice due to the ambassador going abroad, we finally met with the Ambassador of Sweden at the Swedish embassy in Tel Aviv. The ambassador talked about what makes Sweden unique and what each country can learn from one another, before asking students about their own ideas on diplomacy. He emphasized the importance of intercultural encounters for bringing peace.
Friday September 24--10 students came to our “Sukkah of Peace” in south Tel Aviv, to meet the Ambassadors of Croatia and Ecuador. The ambassadors spoke about the approaches to multiculturalism in their countries, and the students explained about the holiday of sukkot, and the 4 species, including reading sources and looking at pictures. The Sukkah was decorated with flags from different countries.
Monday September 27: we had our last encounter in the sukkah with the Ambassador of Kazakhstan. The sukkah was completely full as 30 students, teachers and other guests came. Students had the chance to ask questions to the ambassador, and we read Jewish and Muslim sources that mention the 4 species and emphasize unity among people.