Today’s post is the forth in a series of profiles and reflections written by alumni and current students in the Security and Diplomacy program. This week’s guest blogger is our student Erica Mandell from United States.
Tear Gas and Graduate School
One American’s experience
By: Erica Mandell
One year ago today I was crouched down next to the 6th of October bridge in downtown Cairo. The Egyptian revolution was underway. Ash burned the sun-washed sky with the smoke of car tires and self-determination. The police had hemmed us in and all we could do was cover our faces until the tear gas dispersed. Graduate school was the last thing on my mind. I had studied the Middle East as an undergraduate at the George Washington University in Washington, DC but I never thought I would witness its history up close and personal.
When I returned from Egypt I knew that my love affair with the Middle East was not over; indeed I set my sights on pursuing a graduate degree in Security. Always partial to the road less taken, I looked for degree programs in Israel. I felt, as most people do, that studying security in Israel “makes sense.” Though I would never have guessed it on that revolutionary day in Egypt, in just a few short months I would be on the other side of the border, studying in the Tel Aviv University Master’s program in Security and Diplomacy
Now I am reaching the end of my first term. I am pleased with my experience thus far. Some of the highlights of the program include the professors and the level of instruction. Every Tuesday afternoon, Professor Asher Susser would weave the tale of the Arab-Israeli conflict as if we sat around a campfire. On Wednesdays, Professor Tamar Meisels, who also taught at Georgetown, would challenge us to debate issues such as torture and preemptive strikes. Additionally, the global makeup of the students in the program provides priceless exposure to other ideas, cultures and languages. It is a wonderful feeling to be learning as much outside the classroom as in it
As this is a one year program, inevitably time will slip through my fingers like Mediterranean sand and I will find myself on the precipice of the “real world”. I plan to stay within my field and work for a think tank in Washington, DC, hopefully focusing on nuclear issues. True, daily headlines the world over continue to bring depressing economic news. Yet thanks to my experience here I will have weapons in my arsenal to use in the attack against the impossible job hunt.
.Today’s post is the third in a series of profiles and reflections written by alumni and current students in the Security and Diplomacy program. This week’s guest blogger is our alumnus Florian Druckenthaner from Austria
I am an Austrian native from the Sound-of-Music region. At the age of 19, I moved to Berlin where I volunteered for the Anne Frank Center and pursued a B.A. in European Media Studies at the University of Potsdam. Some of my previous experiences include participation at the world’s largest UN simulation in New York (NMUN) in 2008 and an internship in the European parliament in 2010. My “relationship” with Israel started in 2005. During my first vacation in Israel, I immediately fell in love with Tel Aviv. I was amazed by the liberal lifestyle, the livelihood on the streets and its tolerant and diverse people. Since then I returned every year on different occasions: Visiting friends, as a participant on German-Israeli youth-exchanges or for academic purposes (I wrote my B.A. thesis on the representation of Arab participants in Israeli reality TV shows). Each and every visit made me more interested in Israeli politics as well as the strategic situation in the Middle East. At the same time it also started to strike me how Israel’s perception among my friends in Europe differed so much from my very own experiences. After my B.A. graduation I wanted to get to the bottom of this question and found there is no better way than studying political science in Israel. And luckily I successfully convinced the German Academic Exchange Service to provide me with a scholarship.
The program in Security and Diplomacy did not disappoint me. I was able to broaden my perspective by learning about the history of the Middle East and the different conflicts in the region apart from the omnipresent Israeli-Palestinian dispute. I also benefited from the exchange with my fellow students who brought in perspectives from the U.S., Israel ,Mexico, India, Nigeria and East-Jerusalem (just to name a few). Particularly interesting for me was to learn about Israel’s national security concept: To understand the sometimes controversial Israeli responses to the challenges of unconventional warfare, terrorism and Iran’s nuclear program. Classes like “Modern Strategic Thought” by Prof. Azar Gat and “Terrorism and moral dilemmas” by Dr.Tamar Meisels affected my understanding of warfare and its ethical aspects.
One of the highlights of the year was to attend the bestowal of the honorary doctorate to Angela Merkel by Tel Aviv University. Even in Berlin it is quite unthinkable to get so close to a German chancellor. I also tried as much as possible to make use of the frequent opportunities to meet members of Israel’s political elite. On a regular basis prominent leaders held talks at Tel Aviv University– among them Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni. Last, but not least, it was intriguing to observe the events of the Arab Spring from within Israel. In all classes, professor and lecturers allocated considerable time to discussing current developments and their implications for the security and stability of the Middle East. Political science can be historic and theoretical, but also contemporary and concrete at the same time. After one year in Israel, I feel that I got to know the discipline in all its facets. Additionally, I chose to enroll in the thesis track of the program. Accordingly, I am still in Tel Aviv as I currently write my final paper discussing the legal and moral aspects of the targeted killings of Iranian nuclear scientists. My dream is to continue my studies and pursue a PhD in the United States, but I am also considering a career as a policy advisor or public servant at international institutions like the EU, UN or NATO.
For more information about the program please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
.Today’s post is the second in a series of profiles and reflections written by alumni and current students in the Security and Diplomacy program. This week’s guest blogger is our current student Mridul Raj from India
26 Oct 2011 remains in my memory. The weather was pleasant and welcoming when I arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. The queue at the immigration control was long and serpentine, filled with people from all over of the globe. The city is living up to its reputation as a tourist haven and a global city, I thought, recollecting the information I gathered back in Mumbai. Tel Aviv is branded as “the city that never sleeps” in tourist information brochures, I reminded myself. As I awaited my turn at the immigration counter, I was reminiscing about the string of events that eventually culminated in me enrolling as a student at Tel Aviv University. I had spent years working in various capacities before I decided to take the plunge to pursue a degree in International Security. I paused my thoughts as I moved into the immigration counter. An officer sifted through my documents and granted me official entry into the State of Israel. Her deportment was amiable. I thanked her profusely as I moved past.
I have a special affinity towards cab drivers. My endless meandering through the streets of Mumbai, day after day, was made less painful and more enjoyable by many unknown cab drivers. They are great conversationalist adept at sprinkling interesting anecdotes, churned out of the harsh realities of life in the streets. My cab driver from the Tel Aviv airport was patient enough to answer my non-stop questions about the city. If it is true that we love a place through its people, I should then say that the short journey from Ben Gurion airport to Ramat Aviv in the company of a witty cab driver made me start liking the city.
Allow me to reconnect my thoughts to where I paused. I was a fairly experienced professional, having served in the Army and in various multinational companies. My job was to provide operational security expertise, incident analysis and crisis management solutions. What I was curious to understand further was the devolution of geopolitical events into a degenerating security crisis which affects one and all. How do we track such a situation, analyze it and prepare for it? Probably, this was the overarching reason to pursue an advanced degree in international security. Locating the right place was imperative. My search for an ideal place ended when I discovered the International Master’s in Security & Diplomacy program run by Tel Aviv University. It offered the right mix of ingredients that could shape my career in security. The security situation in the Middle East has its fluidity and dynamics due to a variety of geopolitical reasons coupled with unique socioeconomic, religious and ethnic issues. This was an opportunity to consider the theoretical aspects of International security with direct co-relation to the practical aspects. In its entirety, ranging from the study of wars to violence to peace process to uneasy calm, this program was aptly shaped to my liking. Thus began my journey in Tel Aviv on 26 Oct 2011.
The program is designed to enhance the analytical skills of students, and the presence of world-class faculty makes it more appealing. It connects me to the real events and demonstrates the application of theoretical aspects through security field trips. It gives me insights into the world of diplomacy through interaction with Ambassadors and foreign delegates. The diversity of students from different nationalities, different cultures and different educational background enriches this program, making it truly international.
Sprinkle the academic experience with a swim in the campus pool, get lost in Tel Aviv Uviersity’s “Buddy System” parties, equip yourself with Krav Maga tricks, run along the beaches kissed by the lofty Mediterrean, wade through the never sleeping bars and restaurants, dig through the history and civilizations of the land, merge in the fun and frolic of the city. This place has everything to make it exciting and worth coming back again and again. I will miss this campus and this city for sure but I promise myself that I remain connected.
There’s a good chance that you’ve read something in a newspaper or online recently that was written by a Security and Diplomacy student, alumnus or professor. The opinions of Security and Diplomacy alumni are highly regarded by a range of publishers, and I wanted to share some of their great work with you today.
A major story this past week in the diplomacy sphere has been Russia’s support of Syria, with Russia resisting a U.N. resolution that would call upon President Bashar al-Assad to leave office. Just this past Tuesday, The New York Times featured an Op-Ed on the subject that was co-written by Security and Diplomacy alumnus Daniel Brode. After receiving his master’s from the Security and Diplomacy program, Danny joined the geopolitical risk consulting firm Max-Security Solutions, where he is currently an intelligence analyst. Clearly, he’s putting his Security and Diplomacy training to work with sound insights into the calculus behind Moscow’s current foreign policy strategy regarding Damascus.
If you’re a Security and Diplomacy student, it’s also entirely possible that a popular American website will choose to publish one of your midterm papers. Just go ask Samuel Wecker! “The New Mercantilism,” which was published last year on the website American Thinker, actually made its debut not on the internet, but rather as his midterm exam for International Political Economy.
Sam Wecker in Petra – Photo credit goes to Centre College’s Centre News, which profiled him here.
Alumnus Jared Feldschreiber has seen his reporting and commentary featured in a number of publications. When the Israeli Embassy in Cairo was attacked in Cairo, for example, the online magazine Crethi Plethi published his analysis of the relationship between the Israeli government and the Egyptian military, in which he advanced the argument that the two must collaborate. And, proving that he is a versatile journalist, Jared hasn’t limited himself to international affairs, either! Somewhere, in addition to articles about a rally in New York against Putin’s efforts to reassume the Russian presidency and about a U.S.-Israeli basketball program, he found time to review a question-and-answer evening with director Martin Scorsese.
So keep an eye out for the work of Security and Diplomacy students!