David Boxer, B.A.

Jeffrey Lehman and wife
Kathy Okun

Jeffrey Lehman, David Boxer
and mom Nina Boxer

Bill Clinton after his
convocation address

Cornell’s Peace Initiative
On Israel-Jordan Border

Story by Nina Boxer
Photos by Tim Boxer

E attended our son David’s graduation at Cornell and heard the university’s first Jewish president talk about the university’s initiative in strengthening peaceful ties between Israel and Jordan.

At commencement exercises on the magnificent rolling campus in Ithaca, New York, president Jeffrey S. Lehman urged 5,200 graduates of the Class of 2004 to strive for “common ground and shared progress across boundaries of mistrust and suspicion that can sometimes be framed in moral terms.”

He cited with pride the lead of Cornell in working with the privately financed Bridging the Rift Center, which will bring together Cornell and Stanford universities in a joint effort with Israel and Jordan to research the genetic code of all living things.

They already broke ground in March for this pioneering life sciences research establishment, on a desolate patch of 150 acres in the Arava desert 43 miles south of the Dead Sea, straddling the border of the two countries.

When finished in four years, the multimillion-dollar complex will consist of a molecular biology laboratory, computer installations, a Library of the Desert, and dormitory for 150 people who will work on their doctoral studies on the ecology of the Dead Sea region.

Israeli and Jordanian graduate students will train at the two American universities. They will return to the Bridging the Rift Center to build a network of databases of genetic and other information about the species of life in the region, and ultimately the world.

Israeli and Jordanian leaders, Lehman said, believe “there are additional benefits that flow from engaging in a positive way with a former enemy.”

About 40,000 people in the outdoor stadium applauded the president’s announcement.

A week after David received his Bachelor’s degree in computer science, he started a summer job with IBM in Raleigh, N.C.

By the way, we loved the opening remarks of senior class president Esther Tang, who said that when she first heard about Cornell “they said it was a school where you walk up a 90 degree hill in 5 degree weather to score a 20 on an exam.”

At the previous day’s convocation, former President Bill Clinton urged the grads to pursue cooperation, not unilateralism, in international affairs.

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