The warming of relations between Turkey and Israel, which peaked recently with the summit meeting between the President of Israel Isaac Herzog and the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is now being expressed in the academic arena. For the first time in almost a decade, Tel Aviv University has renewed its academic relations with Turkey, forming ties with three of the country's leading universities: Koç, Özyeğin, and Sabancı.
In a meeting held in Istanbul at the end of the week, TAU president Prof. Ariel Porat and the heads of the three Turkish universities decided to advance the Academic Bridge Initiative, which comprises a series of academic collaborations, including student and faculty exchange programs and joint research initiatives. The meeting was also attended by TAU's vice president in charge of international academic collaboration, Prof. Milette Shamir, vice president for Resource Development Amos Elad, Israel's Consul General in Istanbul Udi Eitam, leaders of the Jewish community in Turkey, including the Chairman of the Jewish community Yitzhak Ibrahim Zada, and many Turkish academics, entrepreneurs and industrialists.
"The purpose of the initiative is to promote academic research in both countries," emphasized Prof. Porat. "Every year, TAU welcomes thousands of Moslem and Christian students from Israel and around the world, and we will be delighted to extend this collaboration to leading universities in Turkey as well. Academia is a bridge between nations and a key to economic and social growth everywhere."
Involved parties say that without the warming of relations between heads of state, it would have been difficult to advance the academic collaboration. The joint research projects are expected to address a vast range of issues, including matters of regional importance such as climate, entrepreneurship, and archaeology, as well as the situation in the Middle East.
Prof. Milette Shamir, TAU's vice president in charge of international academic collaboration: "I sincerely hope that after years of little contact between Israeli and Turkish institutions, our visit heralds a new era. Israel and Turkey are powerfully connected by a rich history, a range of both political and economic interests and similar challenges in areas such as climate, health and technology. Thus, the academic bridge we are building has great potential."