These days, Israel's foreign relations seemingly operate on two tracks; one, the official track, where diplomats and ambassadors wrestle with proposed anti-Israel proposals, boycott attempts, and general bad-mouthing. It's an uphill battle, to say the least.
But there's another track – one where Israel has a much easier time building relationships and achieving accolades. That track is the hi-tech one – where officials, diplomats, students, and visitors all come to learn about the latest Israeli innovations in computers, the medical field, biotechnology – and now, in the latest Israeli success story, nanotechnology.
This week, a group called Stand With Us Israel is melding diplomatic duty with exposure to Israel's hi-tech achievements for a group of 16 PhDs and graduate students from Europe who are here for Bar Ilan University's “Nano Is Green” conference.
The European students will be accompanied by Israeli students, and, along with visiting some of the most innovative Israeli nanotech facilities, the group will also explore the country, take hikes, and otherwise get to know Israel.
It's an action-packed schedule, says Hagai Karov of Stand With Us, which is an international organization dedicated to bringing peace to the Middle East by educating about Israel and the misinformation that often surrounds the Middle East conflict. “The event will feature lectures and discussions, with the highlight a discussion with Nobel prize winner Professor Yisrael Aumann. Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz will also be speaking to the group.”
Among the sites using nanotechnology that the group will visit will be the Brightsource solar farm and the Ahava beauty products factory at the Dead Sea. And, they will do the usual “touristy” things, like Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea, and the underground Kotel tunnel tour.
Most important, says Karov, is the personal connection that the group will forge. “For me, the highlight will be the fact that the visiting students will be staying at the home of Israeli hosts for the first few nights. They will get a chance to see what Israeli homes are really like, and hopefully dispel some of the negative myths about the country.”
Adds Karov: “It will be an eye-opening, fun learning experience for everyone.”