The Center for Jewish Civilization’s first ever summer courses are open for enrollment! This summer, the CJC will offer three new classes in conjunction with the Security Studies Program. These courses provide the unique opportunity to engage with renowned international faculty members. They include:
Religious Terrorism (SEST 446) with Alon Burstein, a professor at Hebrew University who specializes in the ways in which terror groups incorporate religion into their ideology as a facet of explaining their overall activity. Course Description: “Religious Terrorism” will examine the multidimensional facets of secular and religious terrorism. Its aims are to challenge some of the conventional thoughts about terrorism and radical political violence, exposing students to the multiple definitions, historical progression, and political and sociological developments of secular and religious terrorism throughout the past centuries. Drawing on a range of historic and current examples from around the world, we will tackle a variety of questions on the subject, including: What are the differences between political violence, guerrilla warfare, terrorism, and international warfare, and why do such distinctions matter? How and why is religious terrorism different than terrorism in the name of a consecrated secular cause? What are the historic developments that led to the rise of religious terrorism at the end of the 20th century, and is it still on the rise? Who are the major secular and religious terror groups that have operated around the world, and which have been more successful in advancing their cause? The course is divided into three sections. The first focuses on definitions of terrorism, taking students through a historical rundown of modern terrorism throughout the 20th and 21st centuries and introducing the various theories explaining groups’ and individuals’ use of terrorist tactics. The second focuses on theories regarding religious terrorism, analyzing if and how it differs from secular terrorism and surveying how these theories hold up in empirical research. The third section covers a range of select case studies of religiously-motivated terror groups, analyzing and comparing their ideological worldviews, violent tactics, and respective successes and failures in advancing their cause.
Islam, Judaism and Western Civilization (SEST 447) with Ed Husain. Dr. Husain rejected his Islamic extremism following 9/11 and now advises governments and political leaders on Islam. He has been a leader in the field in London and Washington, D.C., including formerly serving as a senior advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Course Description: The course will examine how governments and non-state actors are fomenting conflicts and wars by perverting religion, history and identity. The class investigates Jewish and Islamic influences that form today’s Western civilization. It has been designed to equip students with a deeper understanding of the modern West, evaluate the narrative of clash of civilizations, and explore a synthesis of civilizations. With extremism and anti-Americanism on the rise in the Muslim world, and anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim sentiment increasing in the West, this course excavates the intellectual roots of the threats ripping apart modern civilization.
Israel, Russia & Eurasia (SEST 448) with Dr. Sarah Fainberg, who previously served as Policy Adviser at Israel’s Ministry of Defense. Additionally, she was a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv and currently lectures at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Social Sciences. Course Description: This course explores Russia and the Eurasian states’ deepening relations with the State of Israel since the end of the Cold War. First, students shall discuss the complexity of Russia-Israel “frenemy” relations in the context of a swiftly changing Middle East. In the past decade, and especially since Russia’s 2015 intervention in Syria, Moscow and Jerusalem have perceived each other as key regional players whose moves may significantly affect each other’s national interests. Russia sees Israel as a leading military and political regional actor, with far-reaching strategic capabilities covering all of Western Asia. In Russia’s eyes, Jerusalem can be leveraged to earn dividends in its relations with the West and with Washington in particular. Yet Russia also perceives Israel as a potential spoiler for its military and political designs in Syria and beyond. From Israel’s vantage point, Russia may be a potential regional stabilizer, yet may not deliver when it comes to preventing Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and South Lebanon. Second, we shall explore Israel’s interests and opportunities across the Caspian Sea area and Central Asia. Azerbaijan and Israel have developed a key strategic partnership while other Eurasian countries turn their eyes towards Israel in search for deeper security and economic cooperation to contain mounting regional threats. However, those “win-win” relations are increasingly constrained by post-Soviet unresolved conflicts (2008 war in Georgia, 2014 war in Ukraine and more recently, the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis). Third, we shall reflect upon the Eurasian space and the Middle Eastern arena as a new geopolitical continuum shaped by parallel developments such as US gradual disengagement, US-Russia-China geopolitical and technological race, Turkey’s and Iran’s muscle-flexing and rivalry, Jihadi extremism and violence, the refugee crisis, and fierce competition over energy markets. This seminar is open to students of the Center for Security Studies and the Center for Jewish Civilization with a keen interest in Russian, Eurasian, and Middle Eastern studies. It shall include lectures and seminar discussions along with snapshot presentations by professionals and experts working in the field. This course will also include two war-game exercises.