Elie Rekhess appointed Israel Liaison in Office of International Relations
Elie Rekhess, Director of the Israel Innovation Project and Crown Visiting Professor in Israel Studies, has been named the official Israel Liaison for Northwestern University in the Office of the Vice President for International Relations. In this new role, Rekhess will assist with the expansion and development of institutional relationships and Northwestern programs and support the coordination and communication with university partners and visitors from Israel.
“Professor Rekhess is an excellent addition to our staff,” said Dévora Grynspan, Vice President for International Relations. “Our team is excited to utilize his expertise to strengthen Northwestern’s relationships and reach in Israel and the region.”
Rekhess was born and raised in Israel and spent most of his adult life there before coming to Northwestern in 2009. He is one of Israel’s leading experts on the Arab-Palestinian minority, Jewish-Arab relations, Palestinian politics, and Islamic resurgence in the region. Rekhess taught in the Middle East history department at Tel Aviv University (TAU) and served as a Senior Research Fellow in the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at TAU. He also headed the Program on Jewish-Arab Cooperation in Israel sponsored by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung from 1995 until 2010. He received a PhD (1986) and a Masters (1976) degree in History from TAU and went to Hebrew University in Jerusalem for his bachelor’s degree (1970).
In 2013, following the establishment of The Crown Family Fund for Israel Studies at Northwestern University, Rekhess was appointed Crown Visiting Professor and Associate Director for Israel Studies. As such, he was responsible for programming all Israel Studies activities at the Crown Family Center.
Northwestern Israel Innovation Project (IIP)
Under the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Rekhess established the Israel Innovation Project (IIP) in 2020, to promote scientific collaborations between Northwestern and Israeli institutions of higher learning. From the outset, IIP has worked in close coordination with the Office of the Vice President for International Relations.
Though only in its first year, IIP has already created several research connections and hosted webinars with speakers from Israel and Northwestern on topics such as the impact of science and research in the aftermath of the pandemic, the Israeli election, and breakthrough research in gene therapy to cure deafness.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in summer 2020, IIP and Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering led a grant initiative for collaborative research between Northwestern and TAU on COVID-19-related projects. With grants funded by both institutions, several Northwestern researchers began partnering with TAU’s newly established Center for Combating Pandemics. Kimberly Gray in Civil and Environmental Engineering is working with Hadas Mamane from TAU’s School of Mechanical Engineering on a project entitled “Anti-COVID-19 High-touch Surfaces Using Photocatalytic Transparent Films.” A second project, led by Daniel Nevo and Uri Obolski of TAU’s Exact Sciences department and Northwestern Feinberg and McCormick faculty member Jaline Gerardin, are looking at drivers of differential COVID-19 spread and the response to interventions in minority populations.
Northwestern and Israel
As Northwestern expands its network in Israel, Rekhess’s appointment as liaison is no surprise. Currently, Northwestern partners with several top universities in Israel, including Tel Aviv University (TAU), Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and the Weizmann Institute of Science.
The partnership with Tel Aviv University has been considered a flagship model. It includes collaborations on a myriad of levels and disciplines, and began in 1996, when Kellogg School of Management Dean Don Jacobs entered into a partnership with the Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration at Tel Aviv University (now called the Coller School of Management).
Over the years, the partnership expanded to include a joint Executive LLM degree program between Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law and TAU’s Buchmann Faculty of Law, as well as faculty and student exchanges in Law and Business. The Feinberg School of Medicine added a 4-week clinical rotation option for its medical students at one of the hospitals associated with TAU. Research collaborations in the field of nanotechnology and nanoscience, which is particularly strong at both institutions, also exist. For undergraduate students, and organized through the Global Learning Office, an exchange program has sent students back and forth between the two institutions for the last eight years.
As Northwestern’s relationship and programming in Israel continues to grow, so does the need for an Israel liaison. In his new role, working across all of Northwestern’s schools and colleges, the hope is that Rekhess will help continue to bolster the international connections Northwestern enjoys with many of the existing collaborators and partners in Israel, while expanding to new fields and partners.
An overview of Northwestern’s connections with and in Israel, can be viewed here.