BERLIN – The Ramat Gan-based Academic Center of Law and Business hosted six
Chinese and 36 German students over the past two weeks as part of an innovative
overseas program to jump-start business and cultural ties.
Menashri, the former head of the Center for Iranian studies at Tel Aviv
University, became president of the Center of Law and Business last
“I consider the overseas program as an important initiative and
therefore pushed to promote it since I became president in October,” he told The
last week. “We made Think Global a motto of the Center of Law and
Business and hosting over 40 students in the winter program attests to how
seriously we take such a program.”
Given the traditional academic
partnerships with the United States, Menashri seeks to carve out new programs
that attract students from Europe and the Far East. “It is no coincidence that
our first agreements were signed with Germany, South Korea and China.
first program brought in students from Germany and China,” he said.
conducted telephone interviews with Chinese and German students last week,
as well as with two academics from German universities, who departed Israel on
Sunday. The participants expressed euphoria over the program and their
experiences in Israel.
The students crisscrossed the country, including
visits to Jerusalem, Masada and the North. One of the main thrusts of the
intensive two-week program was to immerse the students and faculty in the
Israeli start-up hi-tech sector.
Zhang Zhao, a 26-year-old who studies
technology management at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, said that
Israel is “an impressive country with friendly people.” He expressed enthusiasm
about Israelis’ extroverted culture and friendliness.
Asked about the
differences between China and Israel, he pointed to the contrasts between the
Mediterranean climate and northern China. “It is snowing right in now my
hometown,” he said.
He added that contrary to the impression among many
Chinese “that Israel is a dangerous country, the biggest surprise I found, in
truth, is Israel is a beautiful country and good to go and have a
All of the visiting Chinese students attend the Harbin Institute
While Zhang and two other students are from Harbin, the
other three students come from elsewhere in China.
Menashri said, “It is
essential to have young people to engage with each other and learn more about
the ‘other.’ When I saw the German, Israeli and Chinese engaging with each
other, I knew our initial program was a great success. For us, in Israel, it is
even more important. It is essential that young (and not only young) people will
know what Israel really presents. They usually think about Israel as a region of
conflict and violence; it was so refreshing to see them focusing on science,
culture and art. Such programs also put a human face on us. They see Israel as
human beings. Some of the students told me how their parents were concerned that
they come to the Middle East. They can now tell them what they
Stephan Christian Zaulich, a student from the University of Mainz
in Germany, told the Post
that it is “my third time in Israel” but it is the
“first time I have been together to be with so many Israel students. It is
amazing to get different points of view and to meet so many politicians and
Zaulich, a 27-year-old concentrating on politics, said he
is studying “the role of religion in the Middle East between Israel and the
Rotem Ben-Maman, 23, an Israeli student from the Academic
Center of Law and Business, said, We “had an amazing weekend together. We
discovered we have a lot in common.”
She added that “although I am from
law school, it was very interesting” to learn about politics and business. “We
wanted to show them the beautiful part of Israel and not show what is only
presented in the TV.”
She said that when she goes abroad or speaks with
tourists, it “is very upsetting” because of the mistaken impressions of Israel.
“We have a lot of successful parts of our country and we are not living in fear.
It is a good life. We are studying, going out, we have families. The TV
makes it look like all the time there are fights with Gaza and
Alfred Wittstock, a leading German professor of Israel studies at
the University of Mainz, said 20 students from Mainz are participating in the
Wittstock, who studied in Israel, teaches Hebrew for beginners
at his university, which is an academic partner to the Center of Law and
Management and economics professor Gerd Michael Hellstern, from
the University of Kassel, said it was his first visit to Israel and he had
“learned a lot.” He accompanied 15 students from Kassel and stressed that the
“idea is to bring economies together.” He cited a company in Kassel, SMA Solar
Technology AG, that has invested in Israel.
The 15 Kassel students study
According to Hellstern, “The future will be determined by the
creative economy. Israeli society is a promoter of creativity. You
know [former Jerusalem Post
editorial page editor] Saul Singer, you read his
book [Start-up Nation
: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle
], that is the