Within the Argov Seminar, in addition to completing a policy project designed to tackle some of Israel's myriad problems, students are given the chance to interact with leading figures in Israel. Fellows are introduced to various fields and have the opportunity to speak with guest lecturers.
Introduction to Capstone Projects
Ido Aharoni has been a member of Israel ’s Foreign Service since the summer of 1991 and became familiar with nation-branding methods, which he later introduced to his superiors in Jerusalem , thus bringing about a paradigm shift in the perception of Israel ’s public image by Israeli officials in Israel and in the USA.
In the spring of 2006, he was appointed to serve as a Senior Advisor to Israel’s Foreign Minister and Vice Prime Minister, Mrs. Tzipi Livni, in charge of media and public affairs. Ido Aharoni has served as the head of Israel ’s brand management team in Jerusalem since September 2007. Aharoni has additionally served in the Israel Defense Forces as a company commander in the infantry during the Lebanon war. He currently holds the rank of Major (Res).
Michal Yudin is the founder and co-chair of WePower (Women’s Electoral Power), an Israeli organization created to bring more women into politics. Previously, she chaired the absorption department of WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organization) Israel, where she also founded and chaired the Committee for the Advancement of Women in Politics. Ms. Yudin was born and raised in Israel and educated both there and in the United States. She served in the IDF as an officer in charge of education, in a welfare unit and in the women’s officer school. She represented the Jewish Agency in New York to promote the Kibbutz Ulpan program and other study programs for young people, and to assist those who wanted to make aliyah.
Yosef Israel Abramowitz serves as President of the Arava Power Company and Global Sun Partners, GP, Ltd, leading the initiatives to help Israel and Jordan become solar super powers. He hangs out with his wife, Rabbi Susan Silverman, and five children on Kibbutz Ketura and blogs daily at Peoplehood.org. A member of Kol Dor, Yossi served for a decade as CEO of JFLmedia.com and is responsible for some of the leading websites in Jewish life, including MyJewishLearning.com, birthrightisrael.com, BabagaNewz.com and JVibe.com. He is a former elected chairperson of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS), winner of the Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, executive editor of the journal Sh’ma, and keynoted Russia’s national human rights convention in 2004 in his capacity then as President of UCSJ: Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union. Yossi served as Chair of the 2006 Koret International Jewish Book Awards, co-chair of global Jewish Social Action Month (cheshvan.org), and has won numerous journalism awards as well as a Wexner Fellowship. He has been an activist for 25 years on issues relating to the Ethiopian Jewish community and Yossi and his wife have two children adopted from Ethiopia. A student of Elie Wiesel, Yossi believes that the purpose of the Jewish people is to be an on-going, distinctive catalyst for the advancement and evolution of morality in civilization. To be a renewable light unto the Jews and the nations, Israel and the Jewish People need to become leaders in the solar power field and to be, in the words of Nigel Savage, carbon neutral by 2020.
Ariel Beery is the co-founder and director of the PresenTense Group, as well as editor and publisher of PresenTense Magazine, and co-founder of the PresenTense Institute for socially-minded entrepreneurs. Ariel is also a widely-published columnist in over a dozen papers around the world including the Forward, the London Jewish Chronicle, the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz. Ariel teaches and lectures at conferences worldwide, focusing on issues pertaining to the Jewish People, Zionism, and the impact of the Information Age on human communities. A summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University, and a graduate student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Jewish Philosophy, Ariel is recieving a Masters in Public Administration from New York University in Nonprofit Management and a Masters in Judaic Studies.
Ariel was named one of the 10 Jews to Watch by the World Jewish Digest, along with Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; was a finalist in the Brandeis University search for a Visiting Professor for Jewish Communal Innovation and, together with PresenTense co-founder Aharon Horwitz, was chosen to be an AVICHAI Foundation Fellow for the first cohort starting in 2008. Ariel Beery is the director of Strategy and Assessment for MavenHaven, a web-based start-up which connects speakers to the organizations that need them in the Jewish community.
Dan Shaham has been serving as an Israeli diplomat since 1991. Dan has served in the Philippines, Germany, Houston and London as Head of Public Affairs at the Israeli Embassy.
Dan has been involved with reversing the British AUT decision of the academic boycott against Israel and furthering Israel's PR in Europe and the US during the first and second Intifada.
Dan holds a BA (cum laude) in Behavioral Sciences from BGU and an MEd (cum laude) in Counseling from the University of Maryland. Dan is currently writing his dissertation on Resistance to Political, Occupational and Relational Changes. Dan is also teaching at the school of Psychology at the IDC.
Dr. Ilan Cohen
Dr. Ilan Cohen received his Ph.D. in Control System Engineering from Universite Libre De Bruxelles in 1982 (Maxima Cum Laude). He is currently the President & CEO of Kollmorgen Servotronix, a High Tech company that specializes in the design, development and manufacture of custom digital servo control systems. The company is a subsidiary of Danaher Corporation, and part of Danaher Motion. Specialty Electronic Products (SEP), is the term used by Danaher Motion to describe its custom motion system capability. Our customers come to us with challenges and we provide solutions. Field proven building blocks that have been developed over the years in the implementation of standard and custom programs are utilized. This enables very fast turn around cycle from concept to prototype, providing a design based on reliable and proven building blocks of software and hardware while leveraging cost to a very competitive price solution even though custom. Together with Danaher's variety of standard and custom motor and actuator solutions, SEP provides a unique total motion solution capability ranging from motor and servo drives to single and multi-axis motion controllers custom built to your specification - one committed address to an integrated solution.
Prof. Mel Alexenberg
Mel Alexenberg is an artist, educator, writer, and blogger working at the interface between art, science, technology, and culture. His artworks explore interrelationships between digital age art and Jewish consciousness, space-time systems and electronic technologies, participatory art and community values, high tech and high touch experiences, and responsive art in cyberspace and real space. His artworks are in the collections of more than forty museums worldwide from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to the Jewish Museum of Prague to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Alexenberg is head of the Emuna College School of the Arts in Jerusalem and professor emeritus at Ariel University Center. He was professor of art and education at Columbia University and Bar Ilan University, head of the art department at Pratt Institute, dean of visual arts at New World School of the Arts in Miami, and research fellow at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies.
He is the author of the books: Educating Artists for the Future: Learning at the Intersections of Art, Science, Technology, and Culture, The Future of Art in the Digital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness, Dialogic Art in a Digital World: Judaism and Contemporary Art (in Hebrew), Aesthetic Experience in Creative Process, and with Otto Piene, LightsOROT: Spiritual Dimensions of the Electronic Age, and has contributed chapters to the books: Digital Visual Culture, Interdisciplinary Art Education, Semiotics of Visual Culture: Sights, Signs, and Significance, and Community Connections: Intergenerational Links in Art Education. Born and educated in New York, Alexenberg earned degrees at Queens College, Yeshiva University, and New York University (interdisciplinary doctorate in art, science, and psychology). He lives with his wife, artist Miriam Benjamin, in Petah Tikva, Israel.
Dr. Raanan Gissim
Raanan Gissin was the Senior Advisor to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In recent years he has become one of Israel’s leading spokesman for the foreign press and the international community on security, strategic issues, terror, the Iranian and Radical Islamic threats, and the peace process. His distinguished career with the Israeli Defense Forces began in 1979 with his position as a Strategic Analyst in the planning branch. At that time he was involved in the planning and implementation of the Sinai withdrawal and the Peace Process with Egypt. During most of the 1980’s, which included the war of Lebanon and the “intifada” he serves as IDF Spokesman. Also in 1991, he serves as a special advisor to the Israeli Delegation at the Madrid Peace Conference and the subsequent negotiations with Arab and Palestinian delegations in Washington D.C. After retiring from the active dusty in 1993, Dr, Gissin initiated and organized the Pension 2000 Conference in Israel with senior Israeli economic leaders and top fund executives and investors from the US. In 1996, he was appointed spokesman of the newly created Ministry of National Infrastructures, headed by Ariel Sharon. From that year through Ariel Sharon’s rise as a Prime Minister to his sudden leave in 2006, Dr. Gissin became Ariel Sharon’s closest advisor on public diplomacy, media and his official spokesman to the foreign press. Today, Dr. Gissin is involved in the creation and production and directing of TV programs covering Life in Israel, The Middle East Conflict, The Iranian Threat, and global Jihad Terrorism. Among others Dr. Gissin is the director and co-producer of the Slosberg Report, a series providing a monthly review of life in Israel of all its aspects. The program is broadcast in Florida on NBC and ABC and is on the syndication market. In addition Dr.Gissin is a leading commentator and analyst on Middle-East issues and Israel for the leading Arab Satellite Networks – Al Jazeera, El-Arabia, BBC-Arabic and Abu-Dhabi TV as well as the leading Iraqi broadcasting network – El Hura. Dr. Gissin continues to provide worldwide speaking engagements and advisory projects on topics such as –
• Global radical Islamic terrorism
• Genocidal anti-Semitism – new threats to western democracies
• The Iranian Threat: global terrorism and nuclear weapons
• Insight and analysis of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, in a regional and global perspective
• Media-Government relations in the age of globalization; A New approach to Public Diplomacy
• The challenge for Democratic Leadership in an era of global non-conventional threats and high levels of strategic risks.
Dr. Ron Pundak
Dr. Ron Pundak has served as the Director General of the Peres Center for Peace since mid-2001, leading and overseeing all aspects of the Peres Center's activities. Dr. Pundak's diplomatic, academic and operative experience enables him to serve as an essential link between the grass-roots sector and key policy makers.
Dr. Pundak played a decisive role in creating the secret track of the unofficial Oslo negotiations at the beginning of 1993. Under the guidance of former Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and his Deputy Dr. Yossi Beilin, and subsequently, under the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Dr. Pundak served as a member of the official Israeli negotiating team in the later stage of the Oslo Process, which culminated in the historic signing of the Declaration of Principles in Washington on September 13, 1993. From 1994 through 2000, Dr. Pundak played a central role in the so-called 'Beilin-Abu Mazen Understanding', which provided a blue-print for negotiations and a detailed framework for agreement on all final status issues utilized in the Camp David II and Taba Negotiations. In parallel, and on an ongoing basis since then, Dr. Pundak has led and participated in numerous Israeli-Palestinian track two activities connected to final status issues, both political and professional, including the drafting of the Geneva Initiative, and serving as a member of the Steering Committee of the Geneva Initiative. With a view to shaping and influencing governmental policy and building long-term peace, Dr. Pundak has continued to be involved in various peace-related initiatives such as think tanks, working groups, and advisory committees. As Director General of the Peres Center, Dr. Pundak is a member of the Aix Group's Steering Committee, and also serves as the co-Chairperson of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum. Furthermore, he is a member of the Academic as well as Executive Board of the Tel Aviv University Institute for Diplomacy and Regional Cooperation, which was jointly established by the Peres Center and Tel Aviv University.
Prior to joining the Peres Center for Peace, Dr. Pundak worked in the fields of intelligence, army, and government, and from 1991-1992, he worked as a journalist at Israeli newspaper "Ha'aretz". He also served as Executive Director of the Economic Cooperation Foundation (ECF), an Israeli think-tank dealing with various political and economic issues related to the Arab-Israeli peace process.
Dr. Pundak holds a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern political history from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London. He has published numerous academic articles and a book entitled “The Struggle for Sovereignty", which details Jordanian history during the years 1946 through 1951. Furthermore, Dr. Pundak contributes op-ed pieces to the Israeli and International press on an on-going basis. Dr. Pundak's public positions include: member of the General Assembly at the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School Jerusalem, member of the Board of Directors of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and member of the Exhibitions and Acquisitions Committee of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
Gidi Grinstein (Born 1970) is the Founder and President of
The Reut Institute is a non-partisan, non - profit policy-group based in Tel-Aviv.
Described by Tom Friedman of the New York Times as "Israel's premier policy strategy group", Reut is uniquely designed to enhance the strategic capacity of the State of Israel by incorporating long-term thinking into its on-going decisions and actions. Reut focuses on the strategic challenges and opportunities posed by Israel's national security and social and economic development. In the area of social and economic development, the Reut Institute is guided by and committed to the ISRAEL 15 Vision, which calls for Israel to become one of the fifteen most developed nations in terms of quality of life within fifteen years.
Gidi previously served as the Secretary and Coordinator of the Israeli negotiation team on the Permanent Status Agreement between Israel and the PLO in the Office and later the Bureau of Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-01).
Gidi has been active in attempts to reform Israel's government system particularly with the Yesodot ('Foundations') and Yesh Tikva ('There is Hope') organizations. Gidi has also been deeply committed to contributing to the Jewish world. He led the team that transformed Birthright Israel from a vision into a plan (1995-99) and is a member of Kol Dor. He blogs at www.blogidi.com. Gidi is a graduate of the Tel-Aviv University schools of Economics (1991) and Law (1999) and of Harvard University Kennedy School of Government as a Wexner-Israel Fellow (2002). He served as an economist in the Israeli Navy (1991-95) and holds the rank of Captain (Res.). Gidi is married to Betty and is a father and stepfather to three boys and a girl. He enjoys long-distance running and has run marathons in Boston (2002), New York (2004) and Tel Aviv.