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Helms School of Government hosts former Virginia Governor, Israeli diplomat to inform, inspire students

Last week, the Helms School of Government welcomed two special guest lecturers to address government and law students. Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell spoke on American Government, Constitutional Law, and Criminal Justice and Deputy Head of Mission Benjamin Krasna, the second-highest Israeli diplomat in the United States, centered his talk on the historic 2020 Abraham Accords that were signed in September at the White House among the countries of Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell visited campus Nov. 11-13.

McDonnell visited campus from Nov. 11-13, speaking to classes on the functions of government and emphasizing the distinct role of the Supreme Court.

“I don’t just want students to think about the theoretical,” McDonnell said. “I wanted to share some of my experiences as (Virginia) attorney general and as governor and tell them about these real-world policy and legal issues that come up, so they don’t just think about these things in the abstract.”

McDonnell served as Virginia’s Attorney General (2006-2009) before being elected as the 71st Governor of Virginia (2010-2014), where he strongly opposed the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and fought for conservative values.

McDonnell has lectured at Liberty on several occasions, most recently in February. He said that Liberty’s conservative education philosophy is encouraging, because many colleges are indoctrinating young minds with progressive ideals.

“When I see a lot of young people who think socialism is as good as capitalism, it tells me our education system and our system of teaching history and economics is failing,” he said. “Liberty reflects how most of the great schools in America began. Harvard, Yale, and Duke were all faith-based schools, then went the secular way thinking it was the right way to go. But in doing that, they’ve lost so much of the truth and the basis of ordered liberty. Coming here, where people remember it, it is very refreshing.”

McDonnell also emphasized American exceptionalism, reminding students that despite her flaws, the United States remains the most generous nation on earth.

Robert Hurt, dean of the Helms School of Government, said McDonnell’s message was inspiring for students.

“Gov. McDonnell brings a wealth of experience to the Helms School of Government mission, which is to give our students the academic and experiential foundation to go out and lead with excellence and with a Christian heart,” said Hurt, a former U.S. congressman. “From his time as a prosecutor, as a citizen-legislator, as the attorney general, and to his service as the 71st Governor of Virginia, Gov. McDonnell has served his fellow citizens with this brand of leadership.”

Deputy Head of Mission Benjamin Krasna of the Embassy of Israel speaks to students through a virtual session on Thursday, Nov. 12.

“Especially during these challenging times, our students have been blessed by Governor McDonnell’s hopeful and inspiring message,” he added.

On Nov. 12, the Helms School of Government — along with Liberty’s Stand With Israel Club — welcomed Mr. Krasna, who lectured students about his experience serving as an Israeli diplomat and working with the Trump administration at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C.  Mr. Krasna spoke about the importance of the relationship between the United States and Israel and about the background in the Middle East leading up to the execution of the 2020 Abraham Accords, which were signed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed, and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani. The accords were witnessed by President Donald Trump. Krasna emphasized the importance of these agreements by pointing out that this was the first time any Arab nation has normalized relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

“The Deputy Head of Mission gave an overview of the current relations between Israel and those around her, giving me a better understanding of the state in which the Middle East is in,” said Rachael Barnes, club co-president.

Dean Hurt moderated the virtual event, which was attended in DeMoss Hall by dozens of Liberty faculty and students.

“It was an honor to host Mr. Krasna as he shared with our students the vital importance of understanding international relations and the work of diplomacy,” he said. “He drove home not only the strategic importance of the American-Israeli relationship but also the reward of representing his country on the world stage as it seeks peace and prosperity.”

As Mr. Krasna concluded his presentation, he spoke of his interest in reaching out to colleges and universities across the United States to engage with the younger generation on the issue of  peace in the Middle East.  He indicated that he hoped to be able to personally visit Liberty in the future and wished the Flames the best of luck with the rest of its football season.

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