Have you RSVP’d for our last three events of the Spring 2021 semester? The Center for Jewish Civilization is pleased to host Brown University’s Dr. Omer Bartov, Georgetown University’s Dr. Joseph Sassoon, and the CJC’s own Dr. Ori Soltes for our final lectures on April 8, 15, and 28. Find out more about our events and RSVP below.
Thursday, April 08, 2021
About this Event:
The CJC invites you to Dr. Omer Bartov’s lecture, “Genocide from Below: Rewriting the Holocaust as First-Person Local History.” RSVP required — you may do so here. Only those who register will receive the Zoom link to access the lecture.
For more than four hundred years, the Eastern European border town of Buczacz – today part of Ukraine – was home to a highly diverse citizenry. It was here that Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews all lived side by side in relative harmony. Then came World War II, and three years later the entire Jewish population had been murdered by German and Ukrainian police, while Ukrainian nationalists eradicated Polish residents. In this lecture, Dr. Omer Bartov will discuss his most recent works, including Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz (2018) and Voices on War and Genocide (2020), and how significant individual witnesses from one locality are to the writing of history, particularly of conflict and war. Using primarily diaries and personal letters from eyewitnesses in and around Buczacz – perpetrators, victims, and survivors – he will explain how genocide doesn’t occur as is so often portrayed in popular history, with the quick ascent of a vitriolic political leader and the unleashing of military might. It begins in seeming peace, slowly and often unnoticed, as the culmination of pent-up slights and grudges and indignities. The perpetrators aren’t only sociopathic soldiers. They are neighbors and friends and family. They are also middle-aged men who come from elsewhere, often with their wives and children and parents, and settle into a life of bourgeois comfort peppered with bouts of mass murder.
About the Speaker:
Born in Israel and educated at Tel Aviv University and St. Antony’s College, Oxford, Dr. Omer Bartov’s early research concerned the Nazi indoctrination of the Wehrmacht and the crimes it committed in World War II, analyzed in his books, The Eastern Front, 1941-1945, and Hitler’s Army. He then turned to the links between total war and genocide, discussed in his books Murder in Our Midst, Mirrors of Destruction, and Germany’s War and the Holocaust. Bartov’s interest in representation also led to his study, The “Jew” in Cinema, which examines the recycling of antisemitic stereotypes in film. His more recent work has focused on interethnic relations in the borderlands of Eastern Europe. His book Erased (2007) investigates the politics of memory in West Ukraine, while his most recent monograph, Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz (2018) is a microhistory of ethnic coexistence and violence. The book received the National Jewish Book Award and the Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research, among others, and has been translated into several languages. Bartov has just completed a new monograph, tentatively titled Tales from the Borderlands: Making and Unmaking the Past. His many edited volumes include Voices on War and Genocide: Three Accounts of the World Wars in a Galician Town (2020) and, reflecting his new interest, the forthcoming Israel/Palestine: Lands and Peoples.
Thursday, April 15, 2021
About the Event:
The CJC invites you to a lecture with Dr. Joseph Sassoon, the Director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS). The influential merchants of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries shaped globalization today. The Sassoons, a Baghdadi-Jewish trading family, built a global trading enterprise by taking advantage of major historical developments during the nineteenth century. Their story is not just one of an Arab Jewish family that settled in India, traded in China, and aspired to be British. It also presents an extraordinary vista into the world in which they lived and prospered economically, politically, and socially. The Global Merchants is not only about their rise, but also about their decline: why it happened, how political and economic changes after the First World War adversely affected them, and finally, how realizing their aspirations to reach the upper echelons of British society led to their disengagement from business and prevented them from adapting to the new economic and political world order. RSVP required. Only those who register will receive the Zoom link to access the lecture. RSVP here!
About the Speaker:
Dr. Joseph Sassoon is a Professor at the School of Foreign Service and History Department at Georgetown University and holds the al-Sabah Chair in Politics and Political Economy of the Arab World. He is also a Senior Associate Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford. In 2013, his book Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime (Cambridge University Press, 2012) won the prestigious British-Kuwait Prize for the best book on the Middle East.
Sassoon completed his Ph.D at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He has published extensively on Iraq and its economy and on the Middle East. He is working currently on a book about the Global Merchants: The World of the Sassoons which will be published next year by Penguin in the UK and Knopf in the US.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
The CJC invites you to our book discussion with Dr. Ori Z. Soltes, the former Director of the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum. RSVP here! RSVP required. Only those who register will receive the Zoom link to access the lecture. This program will delve into the following books:
- Immortality, Memory, Creativity, and Survival: The Arts of Alice Lok Cahana, Ronnie Cahana, and Kitra Cahana
This book reviews the story of a 14-year-old girl from Sarvar, Hungary who was deported to Auschwitz by the Nazis, together with her family. She was the sole survivor of the deportation and transit through three different camps, ended up marrying a rabbi, moving to Houston, Texas, by way of Israel, and becoming an artist. She defeated Hitler in three ways: she survived; she ended up turning the destructive processes of her Holocaust experience into creative expression–extracting rainbows from the ashes; and she and her husband produced three children (both sons becoming rabbis) and nine grandchildren. Her older son, Ronnie, also achieved artistic success as a poet; his oldest daughter, Kitra, has already gained recognition as a photographer and filmmaker–and both of them and their work are in part informed by Alice’s experience and the powerful impact of its transmission on their lives and those of the other members of the family. These two narratives could hardly be more opposite in expressing aspects of the Jewish experience in the modern and contemporary world. The talk will include an array of visual images.
Funding for this publication was made possible with a grant by the Federal Republic of Germany. Dr. Ori Z. Soltes conceived this publication with Rachel Stern, the Founding Director and CEO of The Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art in New York. Immortality, Memory, Creativity, and Survival: The Arts of Alice Lok Cahana, Ronnie Cahana and Kitra Cahana was published by The Fritz Ascher Society. The Fritz Ascher Society researches, discusses, publishes, and exhibits artists whose life and work were affected by the German Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945. Its work commemorates their artistic achievements, introduces work that may have been forgotten to a broad audience, and initiates an active dialogue about individuality and artistic integrity in response to conditions of extreme duress and to political tyranny.
- Growing Up Jewish in India: Synagogues, Customs and Ceremonies from the Bene Israel to the Art of Siona Benjamin
This book considers the diverse and positive experience of the Jewish communities in India, culminating with a discussion of the work of an artist who, growing up in that Hindu and Muslim country, went to Catholic and Zoroastrian (Parsi) schools, before migrating to America and finding her artistic voice as a harmony of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious influences.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Ori Z. Soltes teaches at Georgetown University across a range of disciplines. He is the former Director of the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum. Soltes has authored or edited 24 books and scores of articles and exhibition catalog essays. This includes several articles on the work of Siona Benjamin, and volumes such as Our Sacred Signs: How Jewish, Christian and Muslim Art Draw from the Same Source; The Ashen Rainbow: Essays on the Arts and the Holocaust; Mysticism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Searching for Oneness; Tradition and Transformation: Three Millennia of Jewish Art and Architecture; Magic and Religion in the Greco-Roman World: The Beginnings of Judaism and Christianity, and most recently, Eros and Eris: Love and Strife in and Beyond the Greco-Roman World.
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.
Welcome to the latest installment of the CJC Student Spotlight Series! This month, we are pleased to spotlight William Hammond, a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service from Los Angeles. In addition to Jewish Civilization, Hammond minors in Theatre and Performance Studies. Read our interview with him below to learn more about Hammond, his experience as a CJC student, and his time on the Hilltop!
Q: Briefly tell us about yourself, Will!
A: Hello! One thing that might be good to know is that I am the baby of seven children between my Mom, Dad, and Stepmom. My development in such a large, diverse, and supportive family has provided me with the spectacular gift of knowing that my studies are, in large part, up to me. I do not bear the pressure of being the first or only child and find solace in the fact that I can learn from the multitude of experiences that my siblings have to offer.
Other miscellaneous facts about me are that I have a Jack Russell Terrier named Edmund, whom I love beyond life itself. Additionally, I made the decision to go skydiving the day after turning 18 (which was awesome!), and one time I met Drake Bell at a dentist appointment. Also, I am half Ethiopian!
Q: How were you introduced to the Center for Jewish Civilization (CJC)?
A: As many in the CJC will attest, Professor Jacques Berlinerblau is a very persuasive man. I was scrolling through the school’s courses in search of my second theology class, and found none other than “Blacks and Jews in America,” co-taught by Berlinerblau and Professor Terrence Johnson. As a Black man in America who was blissfully unaware of any tensions between the two minority groups, the course sparked my interest. I signed up right away and was enlightened during each and every class. After some time, Professor Berlinerblau ended up inviting students to a “Sushi Social,” at the CJC where he would later convince me within minutes that this was what I wanted to minor in.
Q: Do you have a favorite CJC class?
A: I could not possibly write down everything that I learned in “Blacks and Jews in America,” however, one of my favorite subjects relating to the overarching themes of the course was the discussion of the intricacies that differentiate how the two groups have been treated by White Christian society throughout the history of the United States. This crucial topic is important within the larger discussion about how the two groups have historically been treated by each other. This would have to be my favorite class so far, due to how specialized it is and how much it got me to think about my identity from the Jewish-American perspective.
Another spectacular class I took was my “Introduction to Jewish Civilization” course taught by Professor Meital Orr, in which we read and analyzed much of the Jewish Study Bible, in addition to many other historical documents dating back thousands of years. Acquiring all of this information within such a short period of time was a useful exercise and gave me a strong foundation from which to draw any basic knowledge of Judaism and the culture that has driven its survival throughout millennia. I cannot emphasize enough how helpful Professor Orr’s passion for the subject was in bringing scholarly texts to life.
Q: What are some of your academic interests? Have you been able to explore them while at the Center?
A: I am a sophomore in the SFS who is extremely interested in the junction between performance and International affairs! Throughout my life, being on stage has been at the forefront of my development, manifesting itself in various ways. This has ranged from acting in plays in school and with local theatre ensembles, to taking risks in branches of performance like stand-up comedy and spoken word. My interest in theatre absolutely consumed my childhood and continues to dominate my life. International affairs, however, specifically in terms of the factors that influence the growth of both domestic and international terrorism and/or extremism is a relatively new interest that has been fostered through my studies in Jewish Civilization. Learning about the roots of anti-Semitism and how it continues to fester in even the most advanced and educated societies boggles my mind, and is another topic that I look forward to further exploring as I pursue my CJC minor and security studies focus.
Q: How has the CJC impacted your time at Georgetown?
A: The CJC has provided me with a community with which I can talk about virtually anything. Though I have yet to use Center resources to their fullest extent due to current circumstances, I know that being part of such a diverse community of people with vastly different interests and experiences will benefit me in the long run. It is so easy to grow numb to Georgetown’s broader, more homogenous campus population. Whether intentionally or unwittingly, the CJC maintains a standard of cultural richness in the people that it recruits. Also, if it were not for my head on immersion into Jewish history, I am unsure whether I would have been as secure in the major I am trying to lock down. It was only after having a recent discussion with Director Bruce Hoffman that I understood what my ideal course of study was. As an expert in the field of terrorism, he recommended International Politics with a focus in Security Studies, a track that I am hopping on as we speak.
Q: Have you been able to further your (CJC and non-CJC) research and extracurricular interests while online? If so, how?
A: Yes! While last semester was difficult due to the transition into a completely online culture, I have opted to keep myself busy this semester by doing what I do best: taking risks. In doing so, I have co-written an article about Jesuit slavery for the Georgetown Voice, been cast in the Don B. Murphy One Acts Festival with the Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society, been elected as Associate Producer on the board of the Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society, and decided to begin the process of co-writing a play for my fellowship with the Georgetown Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics! Once I am finished with one more article for the Voice, I will have satisfied the requirements necessary to be elected to its Editorial Board as well! In the future (hopefully when we are all on campus), I hope to get more involved with CJC specialized classes and events.
Q: That’s amazing, Will! How have you furthered your learning experience outside of the CJC and SFS?
A: Over the summer of 2020, I was honored to serve as a legislative intern in the office of Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez. This was an especially busy time to be working there as I started in the midst of June’s nationwide protests against police brutality. As a member of the Black community, I was given the unique perspective of protesting on the front lines while also being a fly on the wall, witnessing the local government’s response to all that was going on. For one of my assignments, I was even tasked with creating a brief for the Council President detailing the key points of The People’s Budget; a plan introduced by Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles to reorganize the structure of the city’s budget. This would lower the funding of law enforcement for the sake of investment in reimagined alternatives. Being able to discuss these issues with the Council President openly was a privilege that very few people get to have and one that I will always treasure.
Q: What have been some of your favorite moments while an SFS student in general?
A: There have been certain points in my SFS tenure when I have sat in a classroom and had to pinch myself because of how engaged I was with the material I was learning. This may be a reflection of Georgetown or college coursework in general. However, those moments were noticeably rare when I was in high school. I also continue to be astounded by the SFS’s reach in terms of day-to-day international relations. While I suppose this should be assumed of a top tier school in the foriegn service, I still find myself mystified whenever I get to interact with any of Georgetown’s many diplomatic alumni and practitioners.
Q: What are you most looking forward to this upcoming semester?
A: This semester, I look forward to taking on more leadership roles in the organizations that I am associated with. While it is still a virtual semester, it is my intent to make the best I can out of it. Because I have completely filled up my schedule, I also look forward to getting better at time management. My theory is that if I can survive this many commitments in the soul-sucking zoom world, I will be able to achieve anything when we eventually return to physical life. Thank you so much for reading this!
Tuesday, March 02, 2021
“Fighting COVID—Lessons From Israel’s Experiences: A Conversation with Dr. Shmuel Shapira.”
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm EST
Zoom Invitations Will Be Sent to All RSVPs
About the Event:
Dr. Shmuel Shapira, a pioneering figure in the field of “terror medicine”—treating victims of terrorism—was at the forefront of Israel’s recent efforts fighting the coronavirus, especially with respect to the development of a safe vaccine. He will share his thoughts in conversation with Professor Bruce Hoffman, director of the CJC.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Shmuel Shapira, MD MPH, is a Full Professor of Medical Administration at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine. He is also the Director General of the Israel Institute for Biological Research and Chair of the Board of Life Science Research Israel. Professor Shapira was formerly Deputy Director General of the Hadassah Medical Organization; Director and founder of the Military Track of the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine; former Director of the Hebrew University Hadassah School of Public Health; and, the founder and head of the Department of Military Medicine of the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine and IDF Medical Corps. Professor Shapira is a Full Colonel (Res.) in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and served as the IDF Head of Trauma Branch. He is an authority on terror, trauma, emergency medicine and military medicine. He instructs medical students, physicians, EMS, medical leaders and rescue teams on terror medicine, management of mass casualty’s events, military medicine, advanced trauma life support and risk management. Professor Shapira has published more than 110 articles, in addition to chapters and editing books on trauma, terror medicine, military medicine and mass casualty management.
Among other textbooks, Professor Shapira is the editor of Essentials of Terror Medicine, Best Practice for Medical Management of Terror Incidents, and Medical Response to Terror Threats. He was cited as second in the Jerusalem Post’s list of the 50 most influential Jews of 2020.
***For all other accommodation requests, please email firstname.lastname@example.org by February 23. A good-faith effort will be made to fulfill all requests.
Thursday, March 11, 2021
“2021 Andrew H. Siegal Lecture: What the Biden Administration Faces in the Middle East”
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm EST
Zoom Invitations Will Be Sent to All RSVPs
About the Event:
Join Ambassador Dennis Ross as he sketches the contours of the Middle East the Biden administration has inherited. Ambassador Ross will discuss the wars in Syria, Libya, and Yemen, highlight the three groupings vying for influence throughout the region, underline what the Abraham Accords says about the region’s evolution, and outline the challenge posed by Iran.
About the Speaker:
Ambassador Dennis Ross is counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is also Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. For more than twelve years, Ambassador Ross played a leading role in shaping U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process, dealing directly with the parties as the U.S. point man on the peace process in both the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations. He served two years as special assistant to President Obama and National Security Council senior director for the Central Region, and a year as special advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Ambassador Ross’s book, Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny (PublicAffairs, 2019), was co-written with his colleague David Makovsky and published in September 2019. The work profiles four Israeli prime ministers who made historic choices and explores their decisions to see if they can provide a guide to dealing with the fateful choice that Israel’s leaders must soon confront or by default become a binational state.
***For all other accommodation requests, please email email@example.com by March 4. A good-faith effort will be made to fulfill all requests.
The Center for Jewish Civilization is pleased to announce its lineup of Spring 2021 (virtual) one-credit courses! For a look at our complete Spring 2021 course offerings, visit this link.
Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Digital Edition: Propaganda, Conspiracy, and the Politics of Hate, JCIV 181
Professor Emily Blout
Tuesdays: 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Digital Edition: Propaganda, Conspiracy, and the Politics of Hate. For more than a century, Protocols of the Elders of Zion has been used to advance a powerful and persistent anti-Semitic trope: that Jews are plotting to take over the world. From Adolf Hitler to Henry Ford, rabid anti-Semites have championed the fabricated text as a historical document and published it widely. Using Protocols as a launching point, this course will examine the history and nature of propaganda and conspiracism, with an eye toward understanding how such vehicles of influence are constructed and deployed in the today’s hyper-mediated politics.
A Pope and a Rabbi: Unlikely Friends, JCIV 014
Father Dennis McManus and Rabbi Abraham Skorka
Thursdays: 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM
An Unlikely Friendship: The Lifelong Dialogue of Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Pope Francis. This course will explore how two great religious figures in Argentina — Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka — became world-wide dialogue partners, modeling the new relationship between Jews and Catholics. The course is co-taught by Fr. Dennis McManus and Rabbi Skorka, himself. The course includes readings, films, live interviews by Zoom, and a final essay. Course meeting dates are: Jan 28, Feb 4, Feb 11, Feb 18, Feb 25. The course is also listed as INAF 014.
The Lands of Blood of Honey: Israel and the Balkans in the 21st Century, JCIV 285
Professor Sarah Fainberg
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM
This modular course highlights the multifaceted relations that have developed between the countries of the Balkan Peninsula and the State of Israel since the breakup of Yugoslavia. Their encounter draws upon an acute sense of the 20th century tragedies as the Jewish people and minorities across the Balkans experienced genocidal policies and ethnic cleansing. Based on the Ottoman legacy, the Balkan countries and Israel also perceive themselves as “crossroads between Christian and Muslim civilizations” while wrestling with the challenge of integrating their own ethnic and religious minorities. From a geopolitical perspective, Israel and the Western Balkans are viewed as soft underbellies of Western security architecture and aspire to foster a stable neighborhood and regional integration. Specifically, they share a concern for the rise of Jihadi extremism, the refugee crisis’ destabilizing effects, Iran’s and Turkey’s muscle-flexing and rivalry, Great Power collusion, and the imperative to protect their energy needs and infrastructures. Ideologically, they tend to converge in their unwavering commitment to the national principle and the nation-state framework. Israel’s intensifying relations with the Balkan region in the broad sense (from the Adriatic coast to the Ionian, Aegean, and Black Seas) testify to the rise of a new and often overlooked geopolitical continuum between the Balkan area and the Middle East. Together we shall explore Israel’s multidimensional engagement with the Balkan countries by focusing on three main questions: What are the main drivers and constraints of their relationships? What lies behind the US involvement in their relationship dynamics? To what extent can the Balkan countries provide Israel with a second circle of allies in the periphery of the Middle East? This course is designed to empower students and young professionals with a keen interest in European, Eurasian, and Middle East studies in the foreign policy and national security realms. Students shall be trained to formulate security assessments and generate policy-oriented objectives and solutions. Course meeting dates are: Feb 15-19.
The following is our latest installment of the CJC Student Spotlight Series! The Center is pleased to spotlight Gabriel Panuco-Mercado. Panuco-Mercado is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service from Los Angeles majoring in Regional and Comparative Studies. In addition to minoring in Jewish Civilization, he minors in Arabic. On campus, he is an active member of the SFS Academic Council, the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, and Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de Georgetown. Learn more about him, his experience as a CJC student, and his time at Georgetown, below!
Q: How were you introduced to the CJC?
A: I heard about the CJC through Professor Jacques Berlinerblau. During the fall semester of my freshman year, I took his proseminar, “Fictions and Politics of International Relations.” It ended up being one of my favorite courses. Our thought-provoking conversations and intense writing exercises in his course have been seminal to my experience as a student at Georgetown. One day, Professor Berlinerblau invited my peers and I to a conversation about the JCIV minor and the Center’s opportunities with him and CJC advisors. I decided to pursue the minor after that warm interaction.
Q: What was your first CJC class? Additionally, have you had a favorite CJC class thus far?
A: I actually took three “first CJC classes,” all at once. They are also my favorites. My freshman year spring, I took “Intro to Jewish Civilization” with Professor Benjamin Haddad; “Confronting Contemporary Antisemitism” with Professor Ira Forman; and “Wording Your Identity” with Professor David Ebenbach. Of course, I enjoyed aspects of each course. In Professor Haddad’s class, I participated in engaging discussions about Jewish civilization. In Professor Forman’s class, I learned first-hand about what confronting antisemitism entails from Forman’s experience as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. Professor Ebenbach’s class challenged my preconceptions about reading and writing prose and poetry. All three are great courses which illustrate the breadth of the CJC’s academic offerings.
Q: What are some of your academic interests? Have you been able to explore them while at the Center?
A: As the son of Mexican immigrants, I am interested in all things relating to Latin America and especially about Mexican affairs. As a CJCer, I have been able to explore Catholic-Jewish relations in Latin America extensively. Professor Forman’s course was instrumental to my exploration of this topic. For his class, I wrote my final research paper about efforts to confront antisemitism in Mexico. This was one of my favorite papers I have have ever written while at Georgetown. Through my research interviews with journalists, clergy, and professionals, I was able to learn about Catholic-Jewish relations in Mexico and the Mexican Jewish community, at large.
Q: How has the CJC impacted your time at Georgetown?
A: The guidance I receive from professors and advisors at the CJC shapes my experience at Georgetown in ways I doubt would have been possible anywhere else. From deciding which courses to take to crafting internship applications, my time at Georgetown has been impacted for the better because of the Center. Needless to say, I have found my favorite professors, mentors, and peers as a CJC minor.
Q: Have you been able to further your research and extracurricular interests (CJC and non-CJC) while online? If so, how?
A: Because of the online transition, I have been able to expand the geography of my extracurricular involvement. Currently, I am organizing with a couple of housing and food justice groups at home and in Mexico City. With both organizations, I help in some capacity with mutual aid initiatives. For the group closer to home, I help secure community-based funds and donations for weekly food distributions. I also assist with those distributions, ask tenants about their housing conditions and prepare grocery bags for them to take home. Moreover, I build bridges between the organization based in Mexico City and US-based organizations, in order to establish a mutual aid coalition of networks in both countries. I have been able to connect with diverse people from across the country and in Mexico. Each of them are passionate about developing community-based solutions to housing and food insecurity. I believe that our virtual adjustment actually helped to foster my connections with this cohort.
Q: How have you furthered your learning experience outside of the CJC and SFS? This can be through internships, or other activities.
A: As I mentioned, I have worked with a couple of housing and food justice groups. Recently, I also started my internship at the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA). As an intern, I engage with domestic workers and labor organizers to advance domestic workers’ rights in the Washington metropolitan area. While at the NDWA, I hope to learn more about the intricacies of labor organizing, which is something I aspire to pursue after graduating from Georgetown.
Q: What have been some of your favorite moments while an SFS student in general? What have been some of the highlights of your time as a Georgetown student?
A: One of my favorite moments at the SFS thus far was attending the Centennial Gala last fall. I was fortunate enough to win a ticket through the Georgetown Scholars Program. Although I was hesitant about going at first, the Centennial Gala is one of the most memorable experiences I have had as an SFS student. Where else would I have been able to watch Yo-Yo Ma perform with a bagpiper?
Q: What are you most looking forward to this upcoming semester?
A: I really look forward to continuing my work with the National Domestic Workers Alliance and securing new virtual opportunities. I am also excited to declare my major!
The Center for Jewish Civilization invites you to Dr. Suzanne Brown-Fleming’s virtual lecture, “’The Church is Not Afraid of History:’ The Opening of the Vatican Archives.” RSVP to the lecture here!
Our virtual lecture with Dr. Suzanne Brown-Fleming will be accessible to all viewers via Zoom. RSVP required. Only those who register will receive the Zoom link to access the lecture. Zoom invitations will be emailed to all those who RSVP.
This online event will take place on November 05, from 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM.
About the Event
The Hal Israel Endowed Lecture in Jewish-Catholic Relations is named in memory of Hal Israel (C’92) and seeks to facilitate dialogue and strengthen ties between Jews and Catholics. It explores the many ways in which members of these two faiths continue to replace ancient prejudices with cooperation and understanding in today’s world.
In March 2019, when Pope Francis opened the archives for the pontificate of Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), His Holiness marked this momentous occasion with the phrase “the Church is not afraid of history.” The archives opened to researchers in March 2020 for only four days before the COVID pandemic required closing them. Since their reopening in June, the international research community has begun their work in one of the most consequential archives for study of the Holocaust in our lifetime. Dr. Brown-Fleming will reflect on key questions about the Holocaust the archives could help answer and the meaning of this research for Jewish-Christian relations going forward.
About the Speaker
Dr. Suzanne Brown-Fleming is the Director of International Academic Programs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Dr. Brown-Fleming’s work has been featured in the Catholic News Service (CNS), Catholic News Agency (CNA), and The Catholic Virginian. She has appeared on Cable News Network (CNN), EWTN Global Catholic Television Network, and several documentaries, including Holy Silence (2019).
This event will be recorded. By joining this event you consent to Georgetown University using video and photos of you taken during the event in its social media and promotional materials. For all other accommodation requests, please email firstname.lastname@example.org by October 31. A good-faith effort will be made to fulfill requests after October 31.
It is time for the latest installment of the CJC’s Student Spotlight Series! This month’s spotlight is Marisa Morrison, a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service from Japan. Morrison serves as a teaching assistant for the course, “Nazi Camps and the Holocaust,” taught by the Center’s Associate Director, Professor Anna Sommer. Read our interview with her below to learn about her CJC and Georgetown experience!
Q: How were you introduced to the Center for Jewish Civilization (CJC) and why did you join? What your first ever CJC class?
A: During the fall semester of my freshman year, I took Professor Jacques Berlinerblau’s proseminar, “Fictions and Politics of International Relations.” The class allowed me to meet some of my best friends from the SFS and it has been one of my favorite courses thus far. The discussion-based class kept me on my toes and forced me to think critically about my thought-provoking readings. Professor Berlinerblau encouraged us to join the Center––after seeing how welcoming everyone was, I decided to join!
Last semester, I took “Introduction to Jewish Civilization” (a core CJC course) with Professor Benjamin Haddad. It was a great class that taught me the history of Jewish civilization and politics. It also introduced me to very interesting thinkers.
Q: Could you explain what some of your research and academic interests are and how you have furthered developed them as a CJC student?
A: This past summer, I was able to conduct research for the Center’s Associate Director, Professor Anna Sommer. Professor Sommer explores the question of whether women Holocaust survivors had agency after liberation. My work involved listening to and reading testimonies of women who survived the Holocaust. I have learned so much from their stories and have been able to study the Holocaust through a new lens. As for my own research interests, I am interested in learning about how different social contexts and conditions breed international order. I am specifically interested in understanding this issue through a gendered perspective. My research has allowed me to take a deep dive into individual women’s experiences and understand their macro impact on society.
Q: What did the research and administrative work you completed for the Center during the summer entail? What was your biggest takeaway from the experience? Feel free to also let us know if you engaged in other summer activities.
A: By now, you know that my work with Professor Sommer largely involved reading through, watching, and listening to testimonies from women who survived the Holocaust. These women started families and immigrated to the United States. Many of them felt very grateful that the U.S. provided them with a home after they had been persecuted in their own homes. But these women also recounted many difficult circumstances, such as having to balance their family lives and jobs, experiencing depression and PTSD, and not being able to talk about their past to their families. One thing that struck me was that some women gradually lost their faith, while others had their faith reaffirmed. This project really opened my eyes to the many facets of their experiences and helped me understand the importance of listening to individual narratives in order to truly comprehend the impact of a tragedy or conflict.
Over the summer, I also conducted research for Professor Michael Green, who is the Director of the Asian Studies Program. Specifically, I studied contemporary Japanese domestic and foreign policy using Japanese and English sources. This experience led me to examine and understand some of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies, including “Womenomics,” among other reforms.
Q: Are you continuing this work during the Fall 2020 semester? If so, what are you working on now?
A: Currently, I serve as Professor Sommer’s teaching assistant for her course, “Nazi Camps and the Holocaust.” I am also picking up my research again!
Q: Although it is only your sophomore year at Georgetown, can you describe how the CJC has impacted your time on the Hilltop?
A: I did not get the chance to spend enough time at the CJC before being sent home because of the pandemic. However, the Center has been really helpful in offering me support, guidance, and opportunities like working with Professor Sommer. I am looking forward to spending more time at the Center when we’re allowed back on campus!
Q: What have been some of your favorite moments while an SFS student? Have there been any major highlights thus far?
A: One of my favorite memories is attending the SFS Centennial Gala. I happened to win a ticket through a lottery, and it was such an amazing night. It was incredible to listen to speakers like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former President Bill Clinton, and to performances by Yo-Yo Ma and other musicians.
Q: How have you been making the most of our online environment this semester?
A: I am really just taking this semester and trying to focus on myself. Sometimes it is easy to get overwhelmed and constantly being on my computer kind of sucks. So, I am trying to focus on going outside to exercise and doing things other than schoolwork!
Q: What are some other clubs or activities you are involved in at Georgetown?
A: I write for the Indo-Asia-Pacific section and the Compass Futures section of the Caravel. I really enjoy this because I get to learn more about the region and about developments in science and technology. I am also on the executive board of What’s A Hoya. Currently, we are working on creating an accessible and engaging platform for new students to learn more about Georgetown and the resources it has to offer.
The Center for Jewish Civilization is excited to announce that our own Ambassador Dennis Ross is the 2020-2021 Andrew H. Siegal Professor in American Middle Eastern Foreign Policy. The annual professorship and lectureship is made possible by the support of Mr. Michael Deutsch (COL ‘ 88, L ‘ 92; partner with and co-founder of Singer Deutsch LLP) and his family. It was established in honor of Deutsch’s late friend, Andrew Siegal, a philanthropist who lived in the United States and Israel. It is guided by Siegal’s hopeful vision for the Middle East.
The Siegal professorship allows thought leaders to work closely with CJC students and faculty. Past fellows have included Professors Elliot Abrams, Tamara Cofman Wittes, and Danielle Pletka. This semester, Ambassador Dennis Ross continued to teach his celebrated course, “History of Peace-Making in the Middle East,” as Siegal Professor. The course places the Arab-Israeli conflict in a historic context. Next semester, Ambassador Ross will teach his other hallmark course, “Statecraft and Negotiation,” which analyzes American foreign policy toward the Middle East within the framework of of statecraft.
The importance of the professorship in cultivating ties between the Center’s students and community members is not lost on Ambassador Ross, who stated that it “has been responsible for the rich engagement between thought leaders and students for years.” Ross continued, “the Center for Jewish Civilization’s first Andrew H. Siegal Professor was U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela Elliot Abrams, followed by Tamara Coffman Wittes of The Brookings Institute, and Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute. I am pleased to follow them as the 2020-2021 fellow and professor. Through my courses, I have been able to share my experience as a diplomat who is extensively involved in the Middle East peace process with students. Crucially, I have learned from their insights in the process, as well.”
Ambassador Dennis Ross serves as the counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is a Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. For over twelve years, he played a leading role in shaping the U.S.’s involvement in the Middle East peace process, dealing directly with the parties as the U.S. point man on the peace process in both the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations. For two years, he served as special assistant to President Obama and as National Security Council senior director for the Central Region. For one year, he served as special advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Before his time as special Middle East coordinator under President Clinton, Ambassador Ross served as director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff in the first Bush administration. In the past, he played a prominent role in U.S. policy towards the former Soviet Union, the unification of Germany and its integration into NATO, arms control negotiations, and the 1991 Gulf War coalition. Additionally, he served as director of Near East and South Asian affairs on the National Security Council staff and deputy director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment during the Reagan administration.
Ambassador Ross graduated from UCLA, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on Soviet decision-making. He served as executive director of the Berkeley-Stanford program on Soviet International Behavior, received UCLA’s highest medal, and has been named UCLA alumnus of the year.
Ambassador Ross has authored five books on the peace process, the Middle East, and international relations. His most recent publication, co-written with David Makovsky, was published in September 2019 and is titled Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny. The book profiles four Israeli prime ministers and their historic choices. It explores the lessons from those decisions and assesses whether they can provide a guide to dealing with the fateful choice that Israel’s leaders must soon confront or by default become a binational state. His previous publications include Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2015), which was awarded the 2015 National Jewish Book Award for history. He also co-authored Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East (Viking, 2009) with Mr. Makovsky. An earlier study, The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004), offers comprehensive analytical and personal insight into the Middle East peace process. He also received critical acclaim for his 2007 publication Statecraft, And How to Restore America’s Standing in the World (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007), which the New York Times praised as “important and illuminating.”
Ambassador Ross will offer the 2021 Andrew H. Siegal Memorial Lecture in American Middle Eastern Foreign Policy. Stay tuned for the Center’s announcement of the event’s topic!