By Dr. Sander A. Diamond, professor of history
Since the Jewish State of Israel was founded just three years after the end of World War II and the near total extermination of European Jewry, it has enjoyed a special relationship with the United States. While there have been disagreements in the past, mainly over the creation of a Palestinian State on the West Bank of the Jordan River, nothing in recent memory comes close to the acrimony between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “Bibi” to friends and foes alike. They do not like each other for reasons that are the subject of gossip and speculation in the corridors of power in Washington, foreign capitals, and the cafes that dot the coastline of the small Jewish State. What appears to have begun as a political rift has become a chasm marked by an acidic relationship.
Mr. Obama is not the first president who has had his share of problems with Israeli leaders but somehow the others managed to overcome their differences and work together in an effort to bring peace to this benighted region of the world. Such was the case with Prime Minister Begin and President Carter, as well as President Clinton and Bibi. This is not the case now. While the differences can be attributed to demeanor, style and very different personalities, at the core of the open hostility are antipodal views in a very high stakes game of geopolitics and the inextricable issues of Tel-Aviv continuing to build Jewish settlements on the West Bank where the Palestinians hope to build their homeland. And, as the entire world now knows after Bibi delivered a 45-minute speech before a joint session of Congress, differences on how to deal with Tehran’s atomic and hegemonic ambitions.
From the moment Mr. Obama threw his hat in the ring and announced that he intended to run for president, every aspect of his personality, background, style, views, and demeanor have been the subject of endless analysis. Outside of Israel, this has not been the case with Bibi, who has led Israel through difficult times: the failed Arab Spring, the emergence of ISIS, the war with Gaza last summer, the failed talks with the Palestinians, and looming in the background, Iran with its atomic ambitions. He is up for re-election and odds are he will win, helped along by his reception in Washington, not by the State Department or the White House, but by the Republicans.
At home he is loved by many (they call him King Bibi) and disliked by others, but both sides agree that his only priority is the safety of his nation in what he calls “the world’s toughest neighborhood.” He is a man obsessed with national security and despite assurances from the Obama Administration, Bibi is unconvinced. At the end of his speech to Congress, he reminded the world that if need be, Israel would handle Iran on its own. Small wonder Mr. Obama did not watch the speech on TV and 50 Democrats boycotted the speech.
However affable in public, as the world witnessed when he entered the Congressional Chamber, he is a very tough military man and a seasoned politician, a man with a purpose. He is also a master politician, leading a nation of 6.2 million Jews or as the Israelis are fond of saying, 6.2 million prime ministers. He loves to schmooze, or chat, but as it is said in Yiddish, the very big man is sometimes a shtarker, a man with a strong-arm persona. He is a hard-nosed realist and a practitioner of Realpolitik, who has argued over and over again that Israel faces “an existential threat” from Iran, whose Mullahs have promised to remove what they call “the Jewish entity” from the face of the earth.
The speech before Congress was Bibi’s third; the only person to be so honored was his hero, Winston Churchill. House Speaker John Boehner, who invited Bibi to speak, gave him a bust of the United Kingdom’s wartime prime minister. In the 1930s, from the back bench of Parliament, the out-of-power Churchill warned against dealing with Hitler and believed that only timely action would stop his monomaniacal ambitions. Few listened for fear of another world war. At the Munich Conference in September 1938, Britain, Italy and France handed over the Sudentenland to Hitler. In March 1939, Hitler took the rest of the Czech state. To this day, the word appeasement has entered the lexicon of the greatest foreign policy mistakes. For Bibi, the current discussions with Iran are an updated version of appeasement with the naive hope that Iran will change its behavior. For him, the Mullahs are no different than the Nazis and have the same agenda, the destruction of the Jews. He sees Mr. Obama as a misguided idealist who believes that he can work with Tehran, not only on the nuclear issue but giving the green light for its elite troops to rout ISIS.
The fact that his English is flawless is no accident. He is the son of Ben-Zion Netanyahu (1910 – 2013), a historian who had several professorships in Philadelphia. The family lived in the Cheltenham Township near Philly from 1956 to 1958 and again from 1963 to 1967. To understand the father—Ben Zion literally means “Son of Zion”—is to understand the son. Ben-Zion was an ardent Zionist whose historical works dealt with the history of the Jewish people, anti-Semitism, and his magnum opus on the Spanish Inquisition, which evicted the Jews from Spain after 1492. His central thesis maintains it was not a matter of religion but race that set into motion the exodus of the Jews from Spain and for him was the start of racial anti-Semitism that culminated in the Holocaust. Bibi drew many lessons from his father’s work and uncompromising Zionism.
He is the first Israeli prime minister to be born (1949) after the end of the Second World War and the Holocaust. No different than many prime ministers before him, he cut his teeth in the military—first the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) in the Six Day War in 1967 and later in the Special Forces, or Sayeret Natkal. During the raid on Entebbe, he lost his brother, which marked him for life.
After he made his rounds in Washington and gave his well-publicized address to Congress, the 66-year-old Israeli prime minister boarded his El-Al flight for Tel-Aviv. He immediately was back on the campaign trail, using the address and the invitation as evidence of his standing in the world. But his problems with President Obama aside, it would be a gross error in judgment to conclude there is a major rupture in American-Israeli relations. While he is up for his fourth term, the President is a lame duck with just a year-and-a-half until the end of his eight-year presidency. Bibi will just wait him out and if a deal is cut with Tehran, clearly the Republicans will work to undermine it. As is written in the Book of Ecclesiastes, “this too will pass;” this dust-up between Washington and the small Jewish State.
Meanwhile, no different than Bill Clinton before him when Bibi was in office, Mr. Obama has to ask: “How is it possible for such a small state to appear so large in world affairs?”
Just ask Bibi, master politician and a real master at political theater.
To celebrate Digital Learning Day, set for Friday, March 13, Keuka College, in conjunction with the Flipped Learning Network, the Alliance for Excellent Education, and the Keuka College Center for Teaching and Learning, will host a presentation fair that features technology tools and resources, and highlights the innovative ways Keuka College students and faculty use digital learning in the classroom.
Two members of the Keuka College faculty will open their classroom doors to allow members of the College community and the public to see how students are using digital learning and technology in the classroom.
Nicholas Koberstein, instructor of child and family studies, will host an open house session in conjunction with the Flipped Learning Network and a digital learning presentation; the flipped classroom open house covering adolescent development will be held in Hegeman Hall room 104 from 9-10 a.m. His digital learning presentation session, on the use of cell phones in the classroom, will be from noon-12:45 p.m. in the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) conference room, located on the second floor of Keuka Business Park in Penn Yan.
“My flipped learning open house will showcase some of the ways that students set up their discussions, and the professionalism they convey while mediating the discussion,” said Koberstein. “My teaching style revolves around creating an optimal learning environment, which is when students feel like they matter, when students’ unique learning styles are acknowledged, when students’ concerns are heard, when students are able to take risks, and when students are modeled flexibility.”
Part of that flexibility—and example of how a flipped classroom could work—resulted from a lack of student motivation and poor attendance on Fridays, “so I created ‘no work Friday,’ in an attempt to motivate and revive Friday classes,” Koberstein said. “No work Friday is a student-led, student-prepared discussion-based class meant to be an open, accepting, and thrilling class meeting. Students are in control of the topic, and discussion, and the feedback on no work Friday has been excellent, and is usually students’ favorite part of class.”
Enid Bryant, assistant professor of communication studies, will be hosting a digital learning open house. Bryant will use her Understanding Digital Communication course for her digital learning open house. Her class begins at 2:30 p.m. in Lightner Library computer lab 001.
“The flipped learning classroom open house will allow members of the College and surrounding community to come into our two classrooms and learn along with the students,” said Koberstein. “We want this day to be about students’ learning styles and outcomes by showing off their digital learning skills. We want to showcase the things our students can do with technology to enhance their particular style of learning.”
Part of that learning could be a blend of a flipped classroom and a traditional classroom, such as Bryant uses for her Understanding Digital Communication class.
“Every day, we discuss topics central to media literacy, as that is the focus of the course,” said Bryant. “We use digital tools, such as social media, blogs and Moodle, to communicate outside of the classroom and share work. During my open house, we will discuss how to be critical consumers and producers of Wikipedia. My students will become Wikipedians, which is what the site calls its editors.”
According to Koberstein, more Keuka College faculty “seem to be trying the idea of a flipped classroom to get students to be self-initiated learners. Most of the work is done outside of the classroom and when we get into class, we work on projects and application of what they have learned outside the classroom. It provides room to expand what they learn inside the classroom and I think it brings students to higher levels of learning.”
So does Bryant.
“At times, it is very effective to flip a class, especially when I want to use the class time to work on production of digital projects or discussion of topics,” said Bryant.
For example, recently students in Bryant’s Understanding Digital Communication class focused on the upcoming FCC Net Neutrality debate, which she believes is crucial for young people to understand, as they are likely to be the ones most impacted by this regulation.
“On their own time, the students researched the topic, wrote blogs and tweeted about the FCC Net Neutrality vote,” she said. “We were then able to spend valuable class time clarifying what Net Neutrality really means and how it could impact them. They came to class well prepared to converse and actually debate a heavy topic because of the independent learning they did outside of the classroom.”
Denise Love, associate professor of education and director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, who also teaches a flipped learning class, agrees.
“I believe the method empowers students to be responsible for their own learning, and guides them to a deeper level of a given concept,” she said, as flipped learning allows direct instruction moving from the group learning space to the individual learning space.
The resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter. Digital learning can be used for professional learning opportunities for teachers and to provide personalized learning experiences for students.
Two other faculty members, Laurel Hester, assistant professor of biology, and Jason McKinney, assistant professor of social work, will also be presenting. Hester will discuss the use of Moodle, an open-source software program used by Keuka College students for their class work, from 11-11:45 a.m. in the ASAP conference room. McKinney will present “Taking it to a new level: A DIY approach to blending towards online” from 1:15-2 p.m. also in the ASAP conference room. In McKinney’s presentation, he will share work-arounds for finding efficient, flexible, and relatively easy ways for managing classes while also preparing for a future goal of blending face-to-face and online learning. By using devices and technologies comfortable for him as a starting point, McKinney has found some simple strategies to develop online lectures.
According to, Love, the idea of having a digital learning day presentation fair came out of a faculty retreat held in January.
“After the retreat, Nancy Marksbury [special assistant to the president and director of digital learning] sent a survey to find out how those in attendance felt about the retreat,” said Love. “Many people said they liked the sessions they went to, but wished they could attend more. So we wondered what we could do to keep the momentum going. I think people see digital learning simply as technology, but in all reality it is about student learning in which educators use technology as a tool to guide students to a better understanding. ”
Digital Learning Day, started in 2012, is a national celebration that features innovative ways educators are incorporating digital resources into the classroom. Digital learning strives to create student experiences that maximize the many learning opportunities available through technology. In its fourth year, this national campaign celebrates educators and the potential of technology in education for learning and teaching.
The flipped classroom open houses and participation in Digital Learning Day “is a great opportunity to see what kinds of digital learning are happening every day on the Keuka College campus,” added Bryant.
Local and regional public and private school educators, administrators, and students are invited to attend Keuka College’s flipped classroom open house and presentations. Space is limited so reservations are advised. Reservations for Koberstein’s classroom can be made online at http://goo.gl/r6jQAt. Those wishing to attend other presentations can email Dr. Love at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Flipped Learning Network, visit www.flippedlearning.org.
For more on Digital Learning Day, visit www.digitallearningday.org.
Keuka College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera announced on Monday two new community-based scholarship packages. The scholarships are in honor of the College’s 125th anniversary and pay homage to Keuka College’s century-old reputation as a pillar of community and regional service, empowerment, and engagement.
The “Back to Business” scholarship aims to combat unemployment in Yates County and the counties surrounding Keuka College, including Steuben, Schuyler, Seneca, Livingston, Ontario, Monroe, and Wayne. All accepted applicants to the College’s on-campus Master of Science in Management (MSM) program from these counties will automatically receive the scholarship, valued at $15,500. Keuka College’s accelerated MSM program, which was recently ranked by The Financial Engineer among the top 50 in the United States, enables students to earn a graduate degree in business in ten months of intensive, full-time study on the College’s Keuka Park campus.
“In this current job market, management graduate degree holders are almost 20 percent less likely to be unemployed than those who have only a bachelor’s degree,” said Dr. Daniel Robeson, chair of the Division of Business and Management and director of the College’s Center for Business Analytics and Health Informatics. “And those with a graduate degree in management will enjoy approximately $12,000 more in gross salary annually over the course of one’s life…. that translates to an extra $1,000 per month.”
The second scholarship program, developed in conjunction with the Hillside Family of Agencies, provides two $22,000 scholarships each year to students who are involved in the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection and are interested in four years of undergraduate study on Keuka College’s Keuka Park campus.
“At the White House College Opportunity Day of Action in December, much of my time was spent talking with presidents from other colleges and universities about ways in which we can make higher education more accessible,” said President Díaz-Herrera. “Community partnerships, such as the one we’re announcing today with Hillside, are one of the many ways in which Keuka College is showing our commitment to accessible, affordable private education.”
Keuka College is a member of the Yes We Must Coalition, a consortium of institutions of higher learning striving to increase degree attainment of low-income students and students from underrepresented populations. Combined, the 36 member institutions will produce an additional 3,200 graduates by 2025.
Those who are interested in learning more about these scholarship programs are encouraged to contact the College’s Office of Admissions at (315) 279-5254 or emailing email@example.com. Information is also available online at www.keuka.edu.
The annual spring Student Art Show at Keuka College returns next week to the Lightner Gallery and the variety and depth of creativity and expression in the pieces installed has Assistant Professor of Art Melissa Newcomb excited to share them with the public.
“I can’t wait for the students to show off what they’ve been working on in Allen Hall,” she said, referring to the campus building housing the art program classrooms and studios. “There is some really powerful work. Every year, these students are raising the bar in the quality of work they create, and it’s incredible to see what is happening in classes now that we have 20 students enrolled in the Art & Design major.”
The exhibit features students showcasing a variety of photography, illustrations, mixed media, ceramics, sculpture, drawing and design created in this year’s art classes and will run from March 9 through April 12 with an artists’ reception to be held 4:30 – 6 p.m. Thursday, March 12. Light refreshments will be served and guests will be able to browse the walls and pedestals of the Lightner Gallery in Lightner Library to hearts’ content.
If Prof. Newcomb is thrilled with the students’ work, the pride and enthusiasm from the students involved is even more palpable.
“The student show is an incredible way for students to show off their creativity, hard work, and talent, and I am always amazed when I see the artwork,” said Bridgette Fletcher ’15, who is exhibiting three portraits from her 11-part “Reflection” series, and an abstract image. Her inspiration for the series stemmed from recent campaigns about women’s perceptions of beauty and how they interpret what they see reflected in the mirror.
“I was incredibly proud of how the portraits turned out and I am honored to have them displayed in the student show,” Bridgette added.
In a different twist on reflections, one assignment in the digital photography course required students to take a self-portrait, but portray themselves in a different way than others usually see them. Art & Design major Kayla Medina ’17 took that opportunity to show sides of herself others don’t usually see.
“I decided to show my artistic and serious side, because many people know me as funny, goofy, laid back, and always smiling,” Kayla said.
Bringing others closer to the artists through their work is something that excites Lauren Esposito ’15, who is exhibiting photographs taken during the fall digital photography course.
“Creating art is such an incredible and intimate process; it allows for the individual to relax, express, create, and reflect,” said Lauren. “It’s even more incredible to see the work from others. We have so many talented students here at Keuka College and without the variety of art courses, most of that talent would be unknown.”
That principle is even more poignant for Lauren, who said art courses have introduced her to new people who have become some of her closest friends. As a senior, most of her academic hours are spent with the same few students pursuing the same degree (organizational communication), but art courses add a new dynamic, she said.
“I’ve also learned to communicate in an entirely new way through the variety of pieces I created in Foundations of Art and Design to Graphic Design to Digital Photography- which was my favorite art course,” Lauren said. Reigniting her passion for images even pushed her to conduct a photography Field Period™, she said, adding that it was the favorite of the four she has completed as a senior.
Other works from other courses, including ceramics (taught by Faith Benedict, adjunct professor of art), sculpture (taught by Sam Castner), graphic design, mixed media and drawing and painting will highlight the depths of creativity and artistic expression coming to the forefront around campus. According to Marina Kilpatrick ’16, having Prof. Newcomb select one of your pieces for the student show is always a great feeling, as is the energy generated when students, professors and other guests come together at the artists’ reception.
The show itself provides “a fantastic opportunity for art majors and minors to get to see their work displayed because it gives them that confident boost that many may need. I know that’s what it did for me,” Kayla added. “Ms. Newcomb has put a LOT of work into this show, and I know the show will be a hit. I’m so excited to see everyone’s work up and on display.”
Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz, president of Gallaudet University, will deliver the address at Keuka College’s 107th Commencement Saturday, May 23.
Hurwitz became the 10th president of Gallaudet University Jan. 1, 2010. Prior to Gallaudet, Hurwitz served as president of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Hurwitz also served as dean of NTID from 1998-2009, and as vice president and dean of RIT from 2003-2009.
Hurwitz holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from St. Louis University, and a Doctor of Education in curriculum and teaching from the University of Rochester. Hurwitz began his career in the engineering field as an electronics engineer and computer programmer/analyst at McDonnell Douglas corporation in St. Louis, Mo.
Hurwitz serves as chair of the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Presidents’ Council, the first deaf person to hold this position in NEAC history. He previously served as the NEAC Presidents’ Council vice-chair. Hurwitz is also a past president of the National Association of the Deaf as well as the World Organization of Jewish Deaf.
In 2013, Hurwitz received the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District II Chief Executive Leadership Award and the Washington University in St. Louis School of Engineering Alumni Achievement Award.
Throughout his career, Hurwitz has been involved with many professional and deafness-related organizations including American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, Association on Higher Education and Disabilities, American Association of Higher Education, American Society for Deaf Children Inc., Telecommunications for the Deaf Inc., and American Educational Research Association.
Hurwitz has been widely published and lectured extensively throughout the world on topics such as education, rights for people with disabilities, deaf culture, and American Sign Language.