Mastering Security and Diplomacy on the Frontline

Internationally recognized and attracting the best students from all over the world, Tel Aviv University offers the International MA in Security and Diplomacy in English


After completing an undergraduate degree in international affairs, Sarah Zimskind from Pennsylvania was keen to broaden her horizons and knowledge in security. She heard about TAU International’s MA in Security and Diplomacy in English and thought, “Where better to expand my knowledge in security than the Middle East?” Currently working for a congressman in Washington DC, the 2016 graduate explains that the TAU program offers a different perspective than anything available in the USA. “The teachers have life experience in the political and military system – one of my professors worked on the peace treaty with Egypt! You can’t get that perspective anywhere else,” says Sarah.


Sarah reflects on her own unique opportunity as a research assistant saying, “it was like a dream, coming out of a master’s with two co-authored papers – on security, international relations and intelligence – at the age of 23!”


Recent graduate Daniel Solomon from India, talks about Israel as, “a live laboratory.” In Mumbai he worked to prevent human trafficking but knew terrorism was on the rise and Israel was the right place to study this. Daniel, already an Israel-Asia Leaders Fellow, sees himself working between Israel and India in homeland security and defence. After experiencing mainly negative Israel stories back in India, he now strongly encourages students to come and get a taste of Israel themselves, “to learn more about the culture and the diversity – and also the falafel and the hummus.”


Current student, Gabriel Boulianne Gobeil, 26, from Canada, was keen to study scientists and engineers who work on artificial intelligence and how their strategies translate into the technologies they design for the battlefield. He said he knew coming to Israel was going to be different because security is a major priority here. “Being here exposes me to the conflicts and geopolitical tensions with the added value of actually living it to really get a pulse on the situation,” he says. While completing his master’s, Gabriel is interning as an intelligence analyst for a private security firm. He believes that he will go back to Canada with a wide range of skills useful to that community.


Beyond the program and the university, for a lot of students it is their first time visiting the country and the region. As Gabriel claims, “living in a different country is a nourishing experience.” He talks about returning to Canada as an ambassador for Israel, ready to share his experience and educate his friends and colleagues. And although only just starting the program, Gabriel is wise enough to already see, “it’s a degree that not only goes for one year but lasts for a lifetime.”


A melting pot of diversity


As students converge on TAU from all corners of the globe, it is this melting pot that has become one of the most memorable parts of the Program. As Sarah recounts a lot of the conversations that happened in class were some of the best ones, “the smaller European with less security risks and a more diplomatic mindset, to those living in Israel about to serve in the IDF or Americans focused on security.” She emphasizes that this diversity contributes to the value of the degree program.


David Allouche, an immigrant from France who completed the master's program in 2014 still refers to his fellow graduates as a “small family.” He reflects back to during the 2014 Gaza war when the course held emergency meetings with various professors to learn their different viewpoints and allow an exchange of opinion, all in a small room during class hours, exclaiming “How many universities could offer that?!”


After graduating, David was recruited to the IDF, whilst simultaneously launching an online portal of young experts’ opinions on international affairs. He notes that the TAU program helped him to meet people for his future career – professors, ambassadors as well as fellow colleagues who now work with him on his start-up. David also articulates that everything he learnt at TAU he implements in his IDF role of research assistant in intelligence.


Hands-on experience


Another highlight for many students is the regular ambassador forums, with participants from different countries. David highlights how the program led him to his own mentor, the Israeli Ambassador to Cyprus, who helped him build important career connections.


After transferring to TAU after just one year of a political science PhD, Gabriel says he preferred to be in a program that “implemented his knowledge.” With security field trips to Syria, Lebanon and West Bank borders, as well as intimate educational tours within Israel, the practical exposure cannot be replicated anywhere in the world,” he says. 


Academic Director of the Program, Prof. Azar Gat agrees there is no better place to study security and diplomacy and that the strong reputation of the lecturers teaching the program is a key drawcard for students participating in one of TAU’s most popular international programs. He declares that because young adults are very career-focused, the program is giving its students an edge over their competitors in their future endeavors.


Director of TAU International Maureen Meyer Adiri says, “Young adults see studying as an opportunity to travel the world. TAU is catering to the global student and today offers more than 30 international programs – degree and non-degree. Students are keen to mention how the TAU staff were helpful and professional – from a student’s initial application through to future career guidance; offering financial aid, extracurricular activities and a home away from home for the students.”

The MA program in Security & Diplomacy is also a Masa Israel program. Masa Israel is home to the widest variety of immersive, international experiences for Jewish young adults (18-30). Find the right study abroad, internship, service learning, or Jewish studies program to help you grow—as a person, a professional, and a leader— while also developing a robust global professional network that includes Israelis and Jews from around the world.


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