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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Knesset members to visit Brandeis

Published: April 1, 2011
Section: News

Six members of the Israeli Knesset will visit Brandeis on Sunday and Monday in an effort to create new dialogue between Israeli politicians about Israel’s relationship with the American Jewish community. The Israeli politician’s visit is funded by the new Ruderman Fellows Program.

After meetings with Professor Jonathan Sarna, Professor Lenoard Saxe and Professor Ilan Troen, the Knesset members will participate in a town-hall meeting inside Levin Ballroom on Monday evening.

The first group of Ruderman fellows includes members of opposing political parties in Israel: Avi Dichter and Ronit Tirosh of the Kadima party, Tzipi Hotovely and Carmel Shama of Likud and Eitan Cabel and Danny Ben Simon of Labor.

Jay Ruderman ’88 is president of the Ruderman Family Foundation and moved to Israel in the summer of 2005 and enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). He has also worked for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

“[With] the views that these Knesset members [represent], they really represent the spectrum of Israeli politics,” Ruderman said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

He explained that at a time when there is often divisive rhetoric about the polices of the Israeli government and its military, people can oppose governmental policies and still support Israel as a Jewish state.

“They may see things very differently [in different parties], but they’re Zionists in that they believe in the state of Israel,” Ruderman said.

The disagreement between parties can include division over the most effective policies and actions from the government to create peace.

Yet there is also a different line of criticism that Israel and its politicians face. There are those who belong to parties that do not support the country because “they don’t believe in Israel as a Jewish democratic state,” Ruderman said.

The fellows, after meetings in Waltham, Boston and New York will also meet with leaders from the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federations of North America and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Ruderman first got involved with politics as an undergraduate at Brandeis, where he served as president of the Student Union and worked on former Brandeis Professor Ruth Morgenthau’s Congressional campaign in Rhode Island.

“I’ve always had an appreciation for politics and leadership and public discourse,” Ruderman said.

He said he hopes that this program will create new ways to discuss the relationship between America and Israel, and not just as one that people view in terms of foreign aid between the two countries.