March 22, 2016
Israeli officials, as well as experts on the U.S.-Israel relationship, have long contended that Americans and American officials do not have a solid understanding of Israel’s history, political system, and its acute strategic and tactical challenges – to the detriment of Israeli and American interests alike. Much less appreciated, however, is that many Israeli leaders lack sufficient understanding of the United States and its history, culture, society, political process, security and defense, foreign policy decision-making, and strategic challenges. Top U.S. officials who have worked on the bilateral relationship for decades, as well as those such as former Ambassador and current Member of Knesset Michael Oren who have lived or served in both countries, believe that Israel’s insufficient understanding of the U.S. deserves much greater attention and has an equally detrimental impact on U.S. and Israel interests and the bilateral relationship.
JINSA’s IDF Leadership Education Program (ILEP) was established in 2016 to address this important challenge. ILEP educates current and future leaders of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on a range of issues that influence American worldviews and the U.S. foreign policymaking process, including U.S. history, political institutions, economic trends, American Jewry and attitudes toward the Middle East. Participants on the program, which is held three times a year, include:
- Rising lieutenant colonels enrolled in the IDF Command and Staff College
- Majors and lieutenant colonels in the Israeli Air Force (IAF) personally selected by the IAF Commander
- Rising generals, colonels, and current senior officials in the defense and foreign ministries enrolled in Israeli’s National Defense College.
During the course of the program, participants meet and interact with leading American legislators, policymakers, opinion leaders, military officers, economists, journalists, government officials, think tank experts, and scholars. Additionally, the delegations travel to strategic sites such as Marine Corps Base Quantico and the Pentagon, where they meet with their American counterparts and educate one another about the similarities and differences between their military services.
The IDF has said that “[it] has no better educational program in the United States than JINSA’s” and works as a close partner to enhance and grow ILEP.