The Summer of '71 Revisited

Tags: Advocacy, Education, Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, Richard D. Heideman, Israel Engagement, Jewish Identity, Holocaust, Law, Terror, Elana Heideman

By Dr. Elana Yael Heideman

It was the summer of 1971. Passionate about learning, two young Jewish activists made their way to Jerusalem for a prestigious and innovative law program at Hebrew University.

Raised with a love of Israel in their heart, the decision to go was a no-brainer. It was an opportunity that would shape the lives of not only the participants, but to many others who, year later, would glean of the passion, commitment, and academic integrity borne by the Institute of Law and Policy.

Richard and Phyllis Heideman, co-founders of The Israel Forever Foundation, leaders of B’nai B’rith International, the March of the Living, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Herzliya Conference, and numerous other Jewish community programs, joined 25 law students from across the United States on the inaugural summer program. Led by Professor Nicholas Kittrie, of the American University, the programs not only offered the student participants lectures and discussions with Israel's legal, economic, and political leaders, (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim), but also an opportunity to observe the land and its diverse populations firsthand. It was an experience that would impact their careers as well as their understanding of the dynamics of the ever-changing Arab-Israeli conflict.

With the rise of extremism, terrorism and both media and legal bias against Israel, it is this unique style of targeted learning about Israel that is needed for the lawyers and law students of today.

The attacks against Israel are indicative of new methods to manipulate international law, human rights and other aspects that influence more than just public opinion about a particular side of the conflict. Rather, they are an example of the distortions of fact, revision of history and transference of blame that are becoming socially and politically acceptable worldwide and on an expanse of global issues.

Faced with unprecedented social and legal campaigns to delegitimize, demonize and destroy Israel - her name, her reputation and her existence, today’s lawyers must be equipped with the knowledge and tools through which to consider and analyze the issues raised in the many public and international attacks. For this reason, Richard Heideman was determined to revive the Institute of Law and Policy and, 40 years later, the program is now preparing for its second successful summer.

Then, as now, the program is designed to provide a natural site for learning and understanding the complex comparative and international legal issues of the Middle East conflict. To compliment the academic program, students gain experience through a variety of engagement opportunities, tours through the country and encounters with the local community.

Students of the inaugural summer institute in 2014 shared the impact of their experience, demonstrating just how much this program contributed to their lives and professional knowledge.

My Unique Experience in Jerusalem

Now, a year passed since my unforgettable experience at the Institute for Law & Policy of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, I remember with great pleasure and warm feelings the days spent in Jerusalem.

The benefits I drew from my visit to Jerusalem are triple-sided. First, I had an opportunity to be in an academic environment of Hebrew University and participate in the lectures of professors. The lectures helped to gain first hand insight into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and learn useful tactics and strategies of dealing in international conflicts. Second, I had an opportunity to draw lessons by witnessing a unique culture of coexistence in Jerusalem. It was really interesting to see how people of different nationalities, religions etc. try to live together and overcome the problems they face because of that very cultural diversity. And last but not least I had an opportunity to be in the holy city and feel close to the origins of my religion.

Thus my visit to Jerusalem and summer program at the Institute for Law & Policy armed me with unique experience and knowledge I continue to use in my academic path and professional activities.

Liana Hovhannisyan

I am so appreciative of the opportunity I was granted to take part in the amazing program in the Hebrew University. I was so impressed that I keep speaking about it till this time and every day. The program provided me with high knowledge about Biblical Holy land of Israel, about its rich culture and history. I have been in several European countries, but what I saw and felt in Israel, especially in Jerusalem, is incomparable. Every inch of the country is a piece of art. Every person throughout the world should and has to visit to Israel.

The educational program provided us with huge and detailed knowledge about the Arab-Israeli conflict and the role of human rights in Israel as one of the biggest challenges and most important issues that Israel faces today. Both programs were full of examples, analytical arguments, and constructive thoughts. The professors gave us opportunities to express our thoughts freely, to ask various questions and to get the best and appropriate answers. So, combining the rest and education, it was my best experience during my life. Thank you!!!

Alik Sargsyan

I would like to say that the Summer program provided by the Institute for Law and Policy was a great opportunity for me to become familiar with the Israeli history, the Middle-East conflict and its legal implications. Before that, I was not so much aware about the history of Israel. The trips that you have conducted to various places were very exciting and I learned a lot. Also I would like to add that the courses were very beneficial. The teaching style of the instructors was also an important feature since they could promote us in engaging in numerous discussions about the legal aspects of the Middle-East conflict and etc. I am very thankful for all the organizers of this program since the experience that I got from it was very helpful and beneficial for my future career.

Aneta Harutyunyan


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About the Author

Dr.  Elana Yael Heideman
Dr. Elana Yael Heideman, Executive Director of The Israel Forever Foundation, is a dynamic and passionate educator who works creatively and collaboratively in developing content and programming to deepen and activate the personal connection to Israel for Diaspora Jews. Elana’s extensive experience in public speaking, educational consulting and analytic research and writing has served to advance her vision of Israel-inspired Jewish identity that incorporates the relevance of the Holocaust, Antisemitism and Zionism to contemporary issues faced throughout the Jewish world in a continuous effort to facilitate dialogue and build bridges between the past, present and future.

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Tags: Advocacy, Education, Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, Richard D. Heideman, Israel Engagement, Jewish Identity, Holocaust, Law, Terror, Elana Heideman