Free College in Israel Could Be the Key to Improving Relations with the Diaspora

Oct. 30 2019

With universities becoming increasingly hostile to Israel, Liel Leibovitz suggests that American Jewish philanthropists should offer to pay the tuitions of young American Jews willing to attend college in the Jewish state. After demonstrating the economic sense of his proposition—tuition at Israeli universities runs about $3,000 a year—he touts its potential benefits:

What could better appeal to young American Jews of all political leanings and persuasions [than a free education]? . . . It should also appeal to parents who are paying upward of $70,000 a year to send their children to universities where they are being turned into progressive piñatas in a bankrupt system in which ideological indoctrination has largely replaced the teaching of history, literature, and political philosophy.

For about $60 million a year, paid for by whatever combination of generous American benefactors and the Israeli government, we can send a cadre of about 1,000 American Jewish students to Israel each year, each one of whom can serve as a human bridge that will help bring our two worlds closer together. Some of them may want to undertake aliyah, serve in the army, and marry an Israeli, and [thus] strengthen the interfamilial bonds between the two Jewish communities in the most direct ways possible. A majority will hopefully return to America after four years of college in Israel, speaking fluent Hebrew and able to form a powerful core for the next generation of American Jewish communal leadership.

Some may return after a year or two, or four, and continue their education in an American college, equipped to face whatever awaits them there. But all of them will get to know Israel as few young American Jews know it now—and, just as important, introduce American Judaism to an Israeli society largely ignorant of its beauty and richness.

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Jewry, Israel and the Diaspora, Israel on campus, University


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy