Photo Credit:
Ambassador Danny Ayalon

In 2003, while still serving as Israeli ambassador to the U.S., I was privileged to attend the investiture ceremony of Richard Joel as president of Yeshiva University. Since then, I have served as co-chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, as deputy foreign minister of Israel, and as a member of Knesset.

Ten years ago I would never have imagined that I would one day return to YU to join President Joel and the university’s illustrious faculty as the Rennert Visiting Professor of Foreign Policy Studies, a title of which I am most proud.


Yeshiva University has a strong reputation as a center of academic excellence, so the scholastic commitment of both the students and staff came as no surprise. Still, the level of intellectual and emotional dedication shown by my students has inspired me profoundly.

In a very real sense, my students have become partners in my work, consistently challenging me to dig deeper. They are smart, engaged, motivated to achieve – and, most important, they care about the subject matter and invest heavily in our academic relationship.

But I have come to realize this is not simply an academic experience for me or for my students. Yeshiva University’s primary mission is to train and develop future Jewish leaders. Though I assumed my foray into the academic world would be nothing more than a short “sabbatical,” this pursuit of excellence and desire to lead has reenergized me and renewed my desire to serve in the public sphere.

Last summer we all became much too familiar with the Iron Dome missile defensive system employed by the IDF. As Operation Protective Edge dragged on, the Iron Dome played an integral role in keeping Israel’s citizens safe from countless indiscriminate rocket attacks. The key to this successful defense system is that it was designed to act proactively, to intercept and destroy incoming rockets before they could cause harm.

As ambassador, I witnessed the attacks we faced on the political front, which often were more brutal than those on the battlefield. For this reason I created a political Iron Dome, a defense system to proactively fight the propaganda war being waged against us. My informational video series, titled “The Truth About Israel,” arms people with the facts needed to shoot down the indiscriminate libelous claims continuously targeting Israel.

My tenure at Yeshiva University has provided me a new, fitting application of the Iron Dome analogy.

Though many bemoan the future of our society, calling into question the abilities and contributions of the current generation, I no longer stand with them. I don’t fear for the future of our people because I believe Yeshiva University has created an “Iron Dome” of Jewish leadership, arming a generation of dedicated and motivated young men and women with the skills and information they need to tackle the religious, societal, and communal challenges that lie ahead.

When I look at my students, I am reassured that our Jewish future is indeed bright. Though I will now be spending several months tending to my public service mission, I look forward to returning to Yeshiva University for the Spring 2016 semester for what I am confident will be another truly enriching experience.


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Ambassador Danny Ayalon is the Rennert Visiting Professor of Foreign Policy Studies at Yeshiva University.