Peres at NYU, Courtesy of MTV

By Ariella Cohen

Published September 23, 2005, issue of September 23, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Adozen men wearing black suits and secret service earpieces loitered next to the front door of a New York University lecture hall. A pack of gum with Hebrew lettering on it lay on a desktop next to a camcorder stand.

Clearly there was something out of the ordinary going on in Professor Caroleen Marji’s International Politics of the Middle East class.

Nonetheless, the 45 or so undergrads enrolled in the seminar seemed taken aback when, in their professor’s place, Israeli vice premier Shimon Peres strode up to the lectern last Thursday with an MTV microphone clipped to his lapel.

By consenting to appear on the MTV show “Stand-In,” Peres has joined an august list of celebrities-turned-surprise-substitute-professor. Goth-rocker Marilyn Manson appeared on the show to teach a philosophy class, country singer Ashley Judd did a lesson on HIV awareness, hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg coached the University of South Carolina’s football team for a day and Senator John McCain lectured Naval Academy cadets on military policy.

“I was so surprised that I had tears in my eyes,” said Sharon Gilon, an NYU junior born in Israel and raised in Massachusetts. She described Peres as “kind of a celebrity.”

Peres spoke with optimism about Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza. “This is the first time the Palestinian people have ever had a piece of land to govern themselves,” he said.

In response to questions from students about Israel’s separation fence, the Nobel Peace Prize-winner compared the barrier between Israel and Palestine to the Berlin Wall.

“When the Cold War ended, the Berlin Wall came down,” he said. “When the peace is warm between Israel and Palestine, we will take down the wall.”

Though many of the students called on by Peres were critical of Israeli military policies, the discussion proceeded without incident.

After the 82-year-old statesman and his guards shuffled their way out of the crowded hall, Marji returned to her place at the front of the class. A hive of students gathered around her to dissect the various points established in the previous hour’s made-for-television discussion.

“He always sticks to that old modern idea of the East and West being separate,” said teaching assistant Ayda Erbal, a doctoral candidate from Istanbul.

“People don’t talk enough about the divisions within Israel,” Marji said. “I would have asked about those ideological polarizations.”

In the interest of equal time, the show has asked Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to appear. And according to one MTV executive, “He’s definitely considering it.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.