A campaign to include Israel in the global Rhodes Scholarship scheme has come to fruition with the announcement that Maayan Roichman and Nadav Lidor will be heading to Oxford University at the start of the new academic year.
Canadian couple Larry and Judy Tanenbaum provided the funding for the 113-year old Rhodes Trust to be broadened to include Israel and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has praised the Jewish philanthropists whose donations helped Oxford University include Israelis for the first time.
Addressing representatives of Oxford University he said: “Your decision to add Israeli students is very important. Wherever I travel in the world, I see the admiration for Israel for our education system, and our achievements in innovation, and as the start-up nation. Without natural resources we have had to develop and invest in human resources, and we are very proud of what we have achieved.”
The Jewish News reports Rivlin also praised Oxford University for opening a Tel Aviv office – the first major university to do so – adding that this was “an answer to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement”.
The push for Israeli students to be eligible for the prestigious scholarship has been quietly evolving for many years and is seen as a direct rebuttal of the BDS movement which argued that Israel should be ineligible due to its settlements in the West Bank. Now Israel’s finest young minds will have the chance to study amongst the world’s best and brighest.
When it was established in 1902 the Rhodes Trust awarded scholarships to students from English-speaking British colonies, the United States and Germany. The programme has since expanded to other Commonwealth countries and more recently China, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and West Africa, among others.
The Israeli scholars will begin their study at Oxford University in September.
Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: Follow @SunSimonKent or e-mail to: email@example.com