Our Team

Ben Birnbaum


Ben is the founder of ROPES. Previously, he was a foreign-affairs journalist who covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for The New Republic and other leading publications. In 2015, at age 29, he won a National Press Club award for the behind-the-scenes article he co-wrote with Israeli journalist Amir Tibon on the last Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. He also wrote The New Republic’s 2013 cover story on the two-state solution, which then-Secretary of State John Kerry called “mind-altering.” Ben has been a guest Israel expert on BBC, CNN, and MSNBC, and his writing has also appeared in Newsweek, Tablet, and Politico Magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and his Master of Public Affairs degree from Princeton University’s School for Public and International Affairs.

Ksenia Svetlova

Executive Director

Ksenia Svetlova is a journalist, researcher, and former Knesset member from Israel. She has covered the Middle East for Israeli television for fifteen years and has also written for the Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Haaretz, BBC Russian, Newsweek, and Media Line, among other international publications. Svetlova also serves as a senior non-resident fellow for the Middle East programs of the Atlantic Council.

She focuses on Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli-Arab relations, Russian influence in the Middle East, and international and regional Middle Eastern relations.

In 2020, she authored her debut book called “On high heeled shoes in the Middle East” (Pardes). It provides a compelling account of the changes that have swept through the Middle East since the turn of the millennium, as told by a female reporter.

Ibrahim Abu Ahmed

Director of Alumni Relations and the Tourism project

Ibrahim Abu-Ahmed is an Arab-Palestinian-Israeli who was born and raised in Nazareth, and today lives in Herzliya in Central Israel.

Ibrahim has a master’s degree in National Security from the International Program at Haifa University and a bachelor’s degree in International Relations, with a focus on US-Middle Eastern relations. Ibrahim began his studies at the American University in Cairo (AUC) Egypt, but in 2011, following the Arab Spring, transferred to the United States where he completed his studies at James Madison University.

He is also a geopolitical speaker and a writer. Ibrahim speaks to various groups including students, journalists, elected officials, and policymakers. His field of expertise includes the challenges of the Arab minority in Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Syria, the instability in Lebanon, and Iranian intervention in the region, among others.

Daphna Goldschmidt-Cohen

Program manager

Daphna Goldschmidt-Cohen is a Public Diplomacy Leader, who advocates for female leadership and prioritizes social impact in her business decision making. As the first-ever female Chairperson of a professional football club in Israel – Hapoel Jerusalem FC, she led the club to launch the first professional women’s team within an Israeli football club.

Driven by profoundly understanding the needs of communities, Daphna leverages influential relationships with foreign partners, sponsors, foundations, global corporations, and NGOs to maximise resources and drive impact. Of note, she built pioneering resource development and corporate gifting initiatives for peacebuilding through sport using powerful alliances with USAID, UEFA Foundation, Facebook, Visa, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Google and more.

Deeply involved in facilitating peacebuilding in the region. As a Fellow of several prestigious programs such as the Global Sports Mentoring Program for Female Leaders and and member of high-profile committees including the Regional Forum (UN-ECE) – for regional sustainable development, she has gained the ability to drive productive action about important issues.

Drawing international interest as a Community Innovation and Strategy Consultant, Daphna has amassed an impressive record as International Keynote Speaker at peak industry events and Lecturer at multiple institutions. Markedly, she was commissioned by the US State Dept., ESPN and the Uni. of Tennessee, during the Corona Pandemic in 2020, to develop and teach an eLearning module for female leaders on “Grant Writing from a Public Diplomacy Perspective”.

ROPES Board of Directors

Barry Shrage – Newton, MA, USA
Jo Ann Mort – New York, NY, USA
Salman Shaikh – London, UK
Ofer Bronchtein – Paris, France
Tally Zingher – Tel Aviv, Israel
Guy Seemann – Tel Aviv, Israel
Robert Karasov – St. Louis Park, MN, USA

ROPES Advisory Board

Dennis Ross – Middle East envoy to four U.S. presidents

Dan Shapiro – Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel

Yousef Al Otaiba – UAE Ambassador to the U.S.

Houda Nonoo – Former Bahraini Ambassador to the U.S.

Amos Yadlin – President, Institute for National Security Studies

Merav Ben Ari – Member of Knesset

André Azoulay – Senior Adviser to the King of Morocco

Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Mubarak Al Khalifa – Former Bahraini Ambassador to the U.K.

Stav Shaffir – Former Member of Knesset

Ksenia Svetlova – Former Member of Knesset

Stuart MacDonald – Trustee, Board of Deputies of British Jews

Jean-David Levitte – Senior adviser to three French presidents

Yossi Klein Halevi – Author, Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor

David Makovsky – Senior Fellow, The Washington Institute

Sulaiman Khatib – Palestinian peace activist

John Lyndon – Executive Director, Alliance for Middle East Peace

Salman Shaikh – Former U.N. Middle East Envoy

David Horovitz – Founder, Times of Israel

Ghaith Al Omari – Former Palestinian negotiator

Dahlia Scheindlin – Policy fellow, Mitvim Institute

Koby Huberman – Director, Israeli Regional Initiative

Barak Ravid – Diplomatic Correspondent, Walla News

Hussein Ibish – Senior Resident Scholar, Arab Gulf States Institute

Amir Tibon – Reporter, Ha’aretz

Nidal Foqaha – Director-General, Palestinian Peace Coalition