Nezka Figelj

​I was born in Slovenia and raised in Italy, where I lived until the age of 19. From primary school I studied and spoke both Slovenian and Italian. Being bilingual in Slovenian and Italian means not only speaking two languages, but also being capable of understanding two different worlds without translation. I currently speak Slovenian, Italian and English fluently, Hebrew almost fluently, I understand German and I have basic knowledge of Arabic.

 

I hold two Bachelor’s Degrees. I completed the first one at the Università degli Studi di Padova where I majored in Philosophy and wrote a thesis on “Jewish Kabbalah.” After that, I was accepted to the Faculty of Oriental Studies where, in addition to Hebrew and Arabic language, I focused on the conflict between Israel and the Arab world and on possibilities for its resolution. I perceived the Middle East as a unique place in the world, and with the aim of experiencing its political and social aspects, I spent two months in Israel working as a volunteer on a kibbutz, three months before the outbreak of the Cast Lead Operation. I met people from different backgrounds and questioned their opinions and their aspirations for the future. Everyone I spoke with believed that peace is a necessary condition for the possibility of cooperation with the Palestinian population and the Arab countries. In fact, I believe that changes in social and political issues are not effected only around a table but especially through meeting people who are facing and living in a given crisis every day. I next moved to Rome, where I started to work as a journalist reporting and writing articles about Israel and its contemporary social reality, as well as about the condition of the Slovenian community in Italy. I successfully completed my second Bachelor’s Degree with a thesis about “The Israeli army and its influence on Israeli society,” which I approached from an anthropological perspective, at which point I applied to Tel Aviv University to pursue a Master’s Degree.

 

In the International M.A. Program in Security and Diplomacy, taught in English, I further enhanced my knowledge of the Middle East with its regional political and humanitarian crises, and, more broadly, my understanding of life in the region. The prominent professors in the program provided historical, political, security and legal knowledge about these subjects and encouraged me to come up with potential resolutions to the conflict. Among many other topics, I studied international law as it relates to the peace process, focusing on many peace agreements and treaties that have been signed between Arab countries and Israel, as well as relevant UN Resolutions. During the Program, I also participated in a simulation of a global crisis precipitated by an Iranian threat to use a nuclear device. I represented the team of the European Union and played the role of President of the European Commission Jose M. Barroso. The other participants and I worked on finding diplomatic solutions in order to stop Iran from using the nuclear bomb. Moreover, studying at Tel Aviv University gave me the opportunity to fully develop my Hebrew language skills. I’m currently in the process of writing another thesis, this time for the completion of the Master’s Degree; the proposed topic is “The influence of the Israeli army on different groups in the Israeli society and their contribution to the political decision making in Israel.”

 

Now, as I approach the end of the Program, I’m looking forward to starting an internship at the Slovenian Embassy in Tel Aviv. I’m very much interested in starting a diplomatic career, for which the International M.A. in Security and Diplomacy provided me with specific knowledge and practical examples; moreover, the upcoming internship can even further develop my skills in diplomacy in order to provide me with rich experience for my future diplomatic career.

 

I can recommend the Program to everyone who is interested in and has some background in international relations in the Middle East, especially as they are oriented toward the United States and Europe. The Program serves the purpose of developing the subject from historical, political and economic points of view. Moreover, the focus on security concepts is relevant to Israel, a country where security is a main focus area of government policy, not to mention that almost 7% of the Israeli GDP is devoted to security issues. The Program complements security studies with coursework in the field of diplomacy, and it develops skills to work in governmental and non-governmental organizations, private companies, academic careers and journalism. The optional thesis is another advantage of the Program which facilitates the ability of students to apply to PhD programs. The M.A. in Security and Diplomacy is a program which definitely satisfied my expectations.

 

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