The WIF alumni band led by Tsachi Mushkin (Class14). From left to right:  Chava Erlich-Roginsky (Class 10), Eleanor Amid-Zabar (Class 10), Sharon Offer and Itamar Offer (Class 12).

The annual Wexner Israel Fellowship Alumni (WIFA) Institute ended a few Fridays back (July 10th). I had the honor of chairing the ​Alumni Institute planning committee, and during those three days some two hundred WIFA and their partners were introduced to success stories from the municipal field, and the challenges faced by Israel’s local government.

We discussed the relations between Israel’s center and periphery, highlighting outstanding, exceptionally successful urban models along with local government corruption. A separate session was even devoted to creative thinking about identifying sustainable sources of income for Israeli local authorities.

We wanted the institute to serve as a platform for action as well as for dialogue, and therefore we presented alumni initiatives addressing local government challenges.

One of these initiatives was presented in a group discussion on urban renewal and growth in Shibli, a Bedouin local council at the foot of Mt. Tabor. Naim Shibli, the head of the Shibli Council, and his strategic advisor, Ranna Huri, introduced their village and its challenges to a group of Wexner Israel Fellowship alumni.

The idea was to create a “friends’ union” or “advisory board” consisting of Wexner Israel Fellowship alumni that will work together with the Shibli Regional Council leadership in order to advance it in a host of areas, and make it a role model for others.

Almost twenty alumni, holding a wide range of key positions in public service, jumped on board, myself included, and we will soon go on a learning tour of Shibli.

I hope this initiative becomes a milestone that truly impacts Israeli society.
I took great pride in spearheading such a conference, together with the Wexner staff and the rest of the committee members, who put in their time and effort so movingly to create a fascinating platform that touche​d upon many challenges in Israeli society.

Ruth Wasserman Lande, an alum of the Wexner Israel Fellowship (Class 18), was born in Israel, and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. Returning to Israel, on her own, at the age of seventeen, she graduated Cum Laude, with a degree in International Relations and Communications from Bar Ilan University and then served for three years as a political analyst in the Israeli Defense Force intelligence, rising to the rank of Captain. Subsequently, she joined the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ​​serving in many capacities including as the desk officer for the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, and then advisor to the Deputy Director General for Strategic Affairs in the Foreign Ministry, dealing with counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation issues. Ruth was then appointed to serve for three years as the political and economic advisor in the Israeli embassy in Cairo, completing her service there as the Deputy Chief of Mission. ​Ruth was next appointed as Advisor to the President of the State of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres, and since 2010 is a Weidenfeld scholar, pursuing a Phd. in International Relations and Middle Eastern studies at Oxford University, while on sabbatical from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ruth can be reached at