Monday, May 12, 7:68 p.m
Former University president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg will be traveling to Israel with President George W. Bush as part of an honorary delegation to celebrate the country’s 60th anniversary, according to a White House press release.
The delegation of about 80 members will attend celebrations on Wednesday and Thursday.
Trachtenberg, who was reached by phone en route from New York to Tel Aviv, said he will be meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres Wednesday for a seminar on education. He and the other members of the honorary delegation, which includes rabbis, government officials, and prominent Jewish leaders, will meet with President Bush on Thursday.
Trachtenberg said he hopes the anniversary will mark a turning point in the violence in the Middle East.
“I hope this means we are closer to peace than at 20, 30, 40 years,” Trachtenberg said. “We hope arms are laid down and people devote themselves to commerce and prosperity and justice for Palestinians.”
He said he will be representing GW on the trip in his official capacity as president emeritus of the University.
“It’s a big honor for me,” Trachtenberg said. “But it’s an even bigger honor for GW as a university.”
When he is not fulfilling his official delegate duties, Trachtenberg will be meeting with colleagues and friends who live in the area, including a GW alumnus.
“I’m going to make some time to meet with Will Dempster, which I’m looking forward to,” Trachtenberg said. Dempster, a former senior editor at The Hatchet, is completing his master’s degree at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Although Trachtenberg has been to Israel several times, he said some family history made this visit especially special.
“I’m particularly excited to be going to Israel in 2008 because my mother immigrated to the United States in 1928,” Trachtenberg said. “When she left Israel, it was a one-way ticket and she had no option to return. But within a month of the 80th anniversary of her leaving Israel, her son is returning.”