January 11, 2016

Eran Lerman, Former Deputy Chief of Israel’s National Security Council, Joins Shalem’s Faculty

Colonel (ret.) Eran Lerman, former deputy for Foreign Policy and International Affairs at Israel’s National Security Council (NSC) and new member of Shalem’s department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.

Now in its third academic year, Shalem continues to make good on its promise to recruit faculty members capable of creating a singularly rich intellectual community—most recently, with the help of the Fund for Faculty Excellence, which seeks to attract innovative thinkers and scholar-practitioners for key teaching and mentorship positions. Established by an anonymous donor from Boston, Toby and Ron Hersh, and The Lisa and Michael Leffell Foundation, the Fund welcomed four new faculty members this year, each selected for his or her ability to contribute a critical component to the student experience.

Among them is Colonel (ret.) Eran Lerman, former deputy for Foreign Policy and International Affairs at Israel’s National Security Council (NSC). Responsible, in his prior position, for strategic advisement to the prime minister, coordination and oversight of Israel’s security bodies, and relations with the national-security apparatuses of other countries, the London School of Economics and Harvard-educated Lerman is “a rare combination of eminent scholarship and real-world expertise,” explained Shalem Provost Daniel Polisar. “Dr. Lerman brings to our classroom an unparalleled wealth of insight into decision-making at the highest level. He epitomizes big-picture, strategic thinking. This is precisely the sort of approach our graduates need to develop as they launch their own careers in Israel’s service.”

Lerman observes that “the fact that the students in Shalem’s Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies major seek to use their knowledge of the field as a means of contributing to their country makes the opportunity to teach here particularly gratifying, and especially challenging. Far from an ivory tower, Shalem is genuinely preparing its students for meaningful roles in society.”

Lerman, who himself earned a Ph.D. in political science under the legendary scholar of the Middle East Elie Kedourie, went on to work for nearly two decades in senior posts in IDF Military Intelligence. He will be teaching several courses at Shalem, including one on the Israeli-Arab conflict. “It is undeniably difficult to teach a course of this sort in the current atmosphere, when the conflict is a palpable, daily part of our existence,” says Lerman. “But the reality makes it even more critical to understand the forces and worldviews behind the headlines.”

Shalem’s emphasis on penetrating to the level of ideas is what Lerman finds so appealing about being part of the Shalem faculty. That, and the fact that the students in the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Department know about far more than just Middle Eastern and Islamic studies: “They’ve learned philosophy, economics, literature. They’re able to place their learning in a much broader context, and make all sorts of connections. In a region as volatile as ours,” he insists, “there’s no doubt that flexibility of mind and creativity in approaching problems is essential to successful leadership.”

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