Letter from Our CEO

June 2021


Dear Friends,

Despite the fact that it has been two weeks since the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, there continues to be an alarming increase of anti-Semitism, attacks on Jews, and a war being waged on social media. We have witnessed celebrities, influencers, politicians, and others feeding the frenzy, sharing misinformation, and contributing to the rise in verbal and physical assaults on Jews around the world. It is both frightening and infuriating, leaving us with a desire to do something but unsure of what exactly that something is. For American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU), our goal is to share the work and innovation coming out of Tel Aviv University (TAU) which we believe provides a more accurate picture of Israel. The contributions that TAU makes to the world are game-changing. It is an honor and a privilege to share them with you.

In case you missed my earlier letter, I encourage you to watch this brief but important video about work being done at TAU's Center for Traumatic Stress & Resilience led by Professor Yair Bar-Haim. Professor Bar-Haim and his team of over 100 mental health professionals and medical researchers are working to help IDF soldiers and the entire population of Israel, especially those living in remote areas who do not have access to mental health services. According to Professor Bar-Haim, Operation "Guardian of the Walls" will have effects on the population for a minimum of five years. He reports that since the start of the rockets being launched into Israel, they have seen twice the number of people requesting psychological help.

The Center for Traumatic Stress & Resilience has developed a proprietary program for IDF soldiers to help mitigate PTSD. They are also providing diagnostic evaluations and treatment options for soldiers, civilians, and children. The Center has a dedicated team specializing in psychological treatment of anxiety, PTSD, and depression in adults, children, and soldiers. Novel treatments are being developed at the Center, which has set the standard in treatment to improve lives. If you want to help increase Israeli resilience, we invite you to support the work being done at the Center for Traumatic Stress & Resilience. Your donation will enable the immediate provision of mental health services for Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.

The Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at TAU is the leading watchdog organization for monitoring anti-Semitism worldwide. Professor Dina Porat and her team were major contributors to developing the working definition of anti-Semitism which was adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) five years ago. To date, over 450 leading organizations have adopted their definition which assists courts, government offices, local authorities, universities, and other institutions. In a new study, the Kantor Center highlights recent activity which emphasizes the gap between policies and what is happening in the streets.

This week the University announced an international collaboration between TAU and the UAE: a joint Israeli-Emirati Water Research Institute which will open in Abu Dhabi. This is the first official agreement of its kind for a water research institute, which is being established as part of a strategic commercial collaboration between an Israeli technology company that develops water from air and an Emirati agriculture group that specializes in food security. The companies will be working in collaboration with the Moshe Mirilashvili Institute for Applied Water Studies at Tel Aviv University.

This announcement and the new alliances coming out of the Abraham Accords are important and meaningful steps in showing the world that collaboration and cooperation can solve one of the region's most difficult problems: water scarcity. TAU has proven, once again, its desire to make positive changes and reinforced its mission to make the world a better place. I am hopeful that collaborations such as this one, as well as the work of the researchers at TAU, will become positive stories on which the mainstream media and social media focus. I also hope that this will encourage a willingness to listen to alternative narratives, to be more open to understanding a nuanced issue, and a shift to supporting Israel — the only democracy in the Middle East.

Shabbat shalom,

Jennifer Gross
Chief Executive Officer