The Jerusalem Post covered our sponsorship of a brand new joint course between the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the University of Cyprus on the history of diplomatic relations between Israel, Cyprus and Greece.
The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the University of Cyprus will be teaming up to collaborate on a joint online course offering in both Greek and Hebrew for the 2021 spring semester.
The course will focus on the history of diplomatic relations between Israel, Cyprus and Greece, which began in the late 1940s, and it will be led by Dr. Gabriel Haritos, fluent in both Hebrew and Greek, and who is a postdoctoral researcher at the Azrieli Center for Israel Studies at the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism at BGU.
"Despite the close geographic proximity and the coexistence between Jews and Greeks for hundreds of years, this is perhaps the first time that the Israeli and Cypriot academies are collaborating to illuminate the recent history of diplomatic relations between Israel, Cyprus and Greece," Haritos said. "There is no doubt that we will go far thanks to this pioneering spirit.
"Students will dive deep into countries' separate foreign policies and discover ways to advance Israeli-Cypriot relations further. The course will incorporate study materials such as official documents, diplomatic reports and Israeli, Greek and Cypriot newspaper articles giving a more realistic tone to the mock diplomatic efforts.
"It is time for Cyprus to fully embody what it really means to us — the good neighbor to the west," said Director of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute Professor Paula Kabalo. "The one we could always count on. The one who shares a climate, culture and historical experiences. The good neighbor that you do not just knock on the door to ask for a glass of milk but one with which you share your life. We hope that this unique course will lead to additional varied collaborations."
US-headquartered B'nai B'rith International will be sponsoring the course as part of its initiative to "connect public officials, academics and others from Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the Greek expatriate community in the United States." The upcoming course will be a pilot to discover if future courses will be offered of the like.
"Over the last decade, the State of Israel, Greece and the Republic of Cyprus have created collaborations in a variety of areas. An academic course that reflects the significance and potential of these collaborations fits neatly into B'nai B'rith's policy to connect communities," said Director of the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem Alan Schneider.
"B'nai B'rith's participation in this initiative came about through the Israel-Hellenic Forum we founded. The founding conference was held in Jerusalem a year ago with the participation of leading public officials from the three countries."
JBS Coverage of B’nai B’rith Supporting Joint Course Between Ben-Gurion University and the University of Cyprus to Encourage Future Collaborations
JBS covered our statement announcing B'nai B'rith International's sponsorship of a joint course between Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the University of Cyprus to encourage future collaborations between Israel, Cyprus and Greece. View coverage here (beginning at 2:50) or below.
The Jerusalem Post wrote about B'nai B'rith's participation in a Birthright-style trip for diverse Diaspora communities.
Jews, Greeks and Cypriots all have large Diaspora communities, and 12 members of those communities are currently on a Birthright-type program to Israel, Greece and Cyprus in an effort to forge bonds between the communities, and also strengthen ties between the three countries.
The 12 – five Jews, two Greeks and five Cypriots from the US, Britain and Australia – flew to Athens from Tel Aviv on Saturday night, after spending four days in Israel meeting government officials and touring sites. They will do the same in Greece and then in Cyprus.
The idea, said Yigal Palmor, head of the Jewish Agency’s international relations unit, is that “they discover the things that are in common and concerns of their communities in each country – what they have in common in living in the Diaspora. And when they understand what they have in common, they will cooperate, strengthening their communications and with the homeland.”
As ties between the communities get close abroad, he said, this will also help strengthen ties between the three countries as well.
Among the issues that were discussed were questions of dual loyalty, intermarriage and misunderstandings that exist about each community outside of the homeland.
The Greek diaspora is estimated at some 5.5 million people, mainly in the US but also with large communities in Britain, Germany, France, Australia and Canada. The Cypriot diaspora is estimated at about one million people, mostly in Great Britain, the US and Australia.
The funding for the project was split between the three countries, with the Jewish Agency and B’nai B’rith paying for the airplane tickets of the Jews on the trip and the cost of the hosting the entire delegation in Israel, the Greeks paying for the airfare of the Greek participants and the costs of the trip to Greece, and Cyprus doing the same for the Cypriots and the itinerary in Cyprus.
Palmor said that while the focus now is on Israel, Greece and Cyprus, the hope is that the project will be expanded to include other countries as well.
The project is an outgrowth of a first-of-its-kind conference on Diaspora-Homeland relations held in Jerusalem in 2017, attended by representatives from 31 countries.
That conference, hosted by the Jewish Agency in partnership with the Foreign Ministry and the Knesset, was held – as a communique said at the time – in light of a growing realization that “many countries have become aware of the importance of their national diasporas, and of strengthening ties between members of those diasporas and their homelands. The idea of transforming the national diaspora into an inseparable part of the nation and sometimes into a strategic asset is gradually becoming part of the political consciousness in many countries.”
That seminar dealt with questions such as how to make the homeland real for younger generations living thousands of miles away, and how to impart the importance of maintaining ties between the homeland and the diaspora.
Among the countries with significant diasporas that took part were Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Russia and Vietnam.
Palmor said that Greece and Cyprus showed the most interest at the conference, sending the most senior officials – with Greece sending a deputy foreign minister in charge of relations with his country’s expatriate community, and Cyprus a presidential commissioner for Cypriots oversees.
With ties between the three countries flourishing, Palmor said, the Greeks and Cypriots suggested making diaspora cooperation part of the trilateral cooperation between the countries.
Prior to the trilateral summit held by the heads of government in Beersheba in 2018, Jewish Agency head Isaac Herzog met in Nicosia with Greece’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Terens Quick, and with Presidential Commissioner for the Cypriot Diaspora Photis Photiou, to expand the cooperation between the countries’ diaspora communities.
Agreement at that meeting was reached to organize the joint “roots” trip for Jews, Greeks and Cypriots living in their respective diasporas that is currently under way.
In choosing B’nai B’rith for this honor, AHEPA specifically cited the organization’s work providing affordable housing for the elderly and humanitarian efforts to enhance development in the eastern Mediterranean countries of Israel, Cyprus and Greece, which is of utmost interest to the American Hellenic and American Jewish communities.
Both organizations participated in a historic three-country visit to Israel, Cyprus and Greece in January, the strategic and emerging relationship between the three countries.
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