Ilan Sztulman, head of public diplomacy for the Embassy of Israel to the U.S., shared a guest lecture about diplomacy in the Middle East during a visit to Liberty University on Nov. 5.
|Yaron Gamburg (right), counselor for academic and public affairs for the Embassy of Israel to the U.S., engages in conversation with a Liberty University student.|
Representatives from the Embassy of Israel to the United States in Washington, D.C., spent Wednesday and Thursday on the campus of Liberty University meeting with administrators and student groups, touring facilities, and speaking to classes.
As part of the visit, the diplomats — Ilan Sztulman, head of public diplomacy, and Yaron Gamburg, counselor for academic and public affairs — met with Liberty’s provost and deans from its Schools of Government, Divinity, and Law.
“It was great to have these guests from Israel here,” said Dr. Ronald Hawkins, Liberty’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “I am excited about the possibilities for further collaboration between universities in Israel and Liberty University. Other opportunities explored were developing courses, having diplomats guest lecture in classes, and having Liberty students visit the embassy and even the nation of Israel.”
Sztulman echoed the enthusiasm: “I hope this will be the beginning of a strong relationship,” he said, noting how amazed he was with the campus, especially considering Liberty is a relatively young institution. “This university has built this empire here of academic excellence, which is really impressive.”
On Thursday morning they had an opportunity to tour the Liberty Biblical Museum, which features many artifacts related to Jewish history.
“The museum is amazing, the pieces that you have here are (impressive),” Sztulman said.
Receptions — including a well-attended public forum Wednesday afternoon in the Helms School of Government Round Table Room, hosted by Liberty’s Stand with Israel Club — gave faculty, students, and staff opportunities to meet the guests, ask questions, and engage them in conversation (particularly about diplomacy and current events in the Middle East).
On Thursday, Sztulman also spoke to combined groups representing government, business, and Judaic studies classes about diplomacy, governance, and conflict in the Middle East (including history and current events, as well as the moral dilemmas of defending one’s country from extremists).
|Ilan Sztulman (left), head of public diplomacy for the Embassy of Israel to the U.S., and Yaron Gamburg, counselor for academic and public affairs (right), are given a tour of the Liberty Biblical Museum by Dr. J. Randall Price, the museum’s curator and executive director of Liberty University's Center for Judaic Studies.|
Sztulman found the level of interest, as well as the knowledge of current events, at Liberty to be refreshing.
“Here you see a more serious approach, and you (hear) the questions,” he said. “People are more informed on global issues and more interested in that. It feels good for us to see people who are educated but (also) do not have a negative view of Israel.”
He noted that the culture at many American universities has grown hostile toward Israel, with protests against the nation, vocal support for boycotts and even hostility toward Jewish students. Liberty has remained firm in its support of Israel, opposing a boycott by the American Studies Association (ASA).
Liberty remains a proud supporter of the nation of Israel. Students regularly attend pro-Israeli conferences and rallies, and even have taken the stage alongside national leaders in vocal support for Israel. Liberty interns have worked in the embassy. Last year, a Holocaust survivor was among the diverse Convocation speakers Liberty hosted.