Bintel Blog

Peres' Global Initiative

By Nathan Jeffay

  • Print
  • Share Share

Jerusalem is buzzing with international visitors here for the second annual Israeli Presidential Conference, which began yesterday and finishes up today.

Israel’s President Shimon Peres has long been an enthusiast for the idea that Israel should be a meeting place for Jewish minds and that the Israel’s leaders should take time out of all the other challenges they face to facilitate this. The conference, his initiative, is intended as the embodiment of that principle and has drawn a crowd of 3,000 participants, many of them community leaders, politicians and academics.

Topics range from the global economic crisis to challenges in the world of art and science. The list of speakers is impressive. In addition to many of Israel’s leading public figures and thinkers it includes Quartet representative and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, China’s minister of information Chen Wang, Skype’s president Josh Silverman, and Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales. However, the conference seems to have set itself too high a bar last year, leading some, including Haaretz, to claim that this year’s guests are small fry in comparison.

American President Barack Obama sent a video message, complimentary of Peres, which kicked off proceedings. Then came speeches of hope by various Israeli figures, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Over the last 61 years, we in Israel are making the impossible possible,” he declared, referring to peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and moving on to his desire to do the same with the Palestinians.

However, Netanyahu said that strong leadership is needed on the Palestinian side, and called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “to lead his people towards peace and tell them that it’s time to end the conflict once and for all; and it’s about time that both nations will live with security and peace side by side.”

As the day progressed, there were dozens of different topics under discussion. A big star was Weizmann Institute researcher Ada Yonath, hardly known outside academic circles a few weeks ago. Since she won her Nobel Prize for chemistry, she has become something of a heroine. Her newfound fame gave her a platform to raise the often-sidelined issue of “brain drain” from Israeli academia.

Citing the same reasons that were discussed in this Forward article, Yonath said that Israeli scientists are disgruntled and leaving in large numbers. She declared: “It’s time to bring back the human capital that we have spread throughout the world.”

She went on to say that funding for higher education in Israel is so low that it is “reaching danger point.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ada Yonath, Israeli Presidential Conference, Shimon Peres

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.