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Law School and School of Government Deans meet with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

July 18, 2011

Mathew Staver, Dean of Liberty University School of Law, and Shawn Akers, Dean of Helms School of Government, recently returned from Israel where they met privately with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other high ranking Israeli government and academic leaders.

“We went to Israel to establish new study abroad opportunities for the law school and the university. The meetings were far beyond our expectations. The red carpet was rolled out to us from the academic and government leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” said Dean Staver.

The first night they arrived, Staver and Akers enjoyed a dinner meeting with the Minister of Public Affairs and Diaspora who also is a Member of the Knesset. “We dined overlooking the Old City wall beautifully illuminated with the evening lights. Then a bright full moon arose over the wall and we later observed a full lunar eclipse. It was an story-book way to begin what turned out to be a series of incredible meetings,” remarked Akers.

Dean Staver for a couple of years has been working on the development of a summer study abroad program in Jerusalem for Liberty law students and others. The program would be three to four weeks and be taught by Liberty and Israeli legal academic and political experts. The law school is also developing a for-credit externship program in Israel much like the externships currently offered by the law school. Dean Akers went to Israel to establish an internship program or undergraduate students similar to the Washington internship semester.

During the busy week, Deans Staver and Akers met will all the top decision-makers of Ono Academic College, which has the largest law and business school in Israel with nearly 9,000 students. “Ono’s philosophy is similar to Liberty’s in that both aspire for academic excellence but they also want to train activists who will bring about positive social change,” said Staver.  The President of the college is the former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations.

Staver and Akers also met with the top decision-makers in the Ministry of Tourism and the Minister of Justice, who works with all the courts including the Supreme Court. In addition to many others too numerous to list in this article, Staver and Akers met with the Minister of Finance and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his Cabinet Room where he meets with members of his Cabinet.

“The Prime Minister was very gracious with his time and gave us a warm reception,” said Staver. “We had a productive and substantive meeting that was far more than we anticipated,” remarked Staver. They discussed the values shared by Christians and Jews and between Israel and the United States. “Benjamin Netanyahu is the Ronald Reagan of the Middle East,” said Staver. Akers called him the de facto spokesperson for Western civilization.

Netanyahu said that conflict over the right of Israel to exist is at its core a battle over values and Western civilization. America and Israel face threats to our shared values. Netanyahu said, “In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America’s unwavering ally. Israel has always been pro-American. Israel will always be pro-American.”

During the meeting Prime Minister Netanyahu was presented with several tokens of appreciation, which include the law school’s “Jefferson Cup” with the school’s crest that contains a symbol of Nehemiah to symbolize that the law school is rebuilding the broken down wall.

Mr. Netanyahu was also presented with the autobiography of Liberty University,’s founder Dr. Jerry Falwell. When presented the book was open to the picture where Dr. Falwell received the Jabotinsky Award from former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin for his support of Israel.

Reflecting on the trip to Israel, Dean Staver said: “The survival of Western civilization is at stake. Israel needs America and America needs Israel. Israel is America’s best ally in the Middle East. For Christians and Jews, Israel holds a special place in our history and in our hearts. From Dr. Falwell to Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr, Liberty University has a strong tradition of supporting Israel. We are very excited to strengthen that relationship and to provide new opportunities for our students to study in the Holy Land.”

“Providence entrusted the United States to be the guardian of liberty. All people who cherish freedom owe a profound debt of gratitude to your great nation. It is with a grateful heart that I welcome the Goodwill Ambassadors to come and see what is right with Israel and to learn about our shared values and Biblical heritage.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It has always been about the existence of the Jewish state. It is time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say “I will accept the Jewish state.” Those six words will change history. Yet, there are those who refuse to recognize the Jewish state and call for Israel to return to the 1967 borders, which would reduce Israel to only nine miles wide. Such a move would be the destruction of Israel.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.