Take A Look at Some of The CJC’s Exciting Spring 2020 Courses!

Haven’t seen all of the CJC’s exciting course offerings for the Spring 2020 semester? Be sure to check these classes out before it’s too late!

Holocaust Courses 

  • “Holocaust Autobiography,” Rev. Dennis McManus, Fr. Patrick Desbois, JCIV 236 / INAF 236
  • “Use & Abuse of Holocaust in Politics,” Fr. Patrick Desbois, Prof. Anna Sommer, JCIV 272 / INAF 272
  • “Holocaust Forensics: Fieldwork,” Fr. Patrick Desbois, Prof. Anna Sommer, JCIV 309

International Affairs / Diplomacy Courses

Humanities and Jewish Studies Courses 

Required Certificate / Minor Courses 

Hebrew 

  • “Intensive Beginning Hebrew II,” Prof. Grayson, HEBR 012
  • “Intermediate Hebrew II,” Prof. Orr, HEBR 022
  • “Advanced Modern Hebrew II,” Prof. Grayson, HEBR 102

Read the Second Installment of our Faculty and Student Insight Series!

On November 19, the CJC launched its new blog series featuring insights from CJC professors and students. Maddox Angerhofer (SFS ’22) and Professor Moran Stern expounded on the future of Israeli politics after the expiration of Benny Gantz’s mandate to form a new government. In the second installment of the series, Angerhofer and Stern explore the implications Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu’s indictment, as well as a potential “post-Netenyahu era.”

What Happened

On December 21, the day after Benny Gantz’s deadline to form a government expired, the Israeli Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, announced his decision to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on three counts.  These indictments, the first ever of a sitting Prime Minister, came after three years of investigation and in the midst of significant political uncertainty, as the country awaits a successful government formation by the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) or through another round of elections, which, if necessary, will most likely take place in March 2020.  

On the first two charges, Case 1,000 and Case 2,000, Netanyahu was indicted for fraud and breach of trust.  Case 1,000 involved Netanyahu receiving upwards of about $150,000 in gifts of luxury goods, such as bottles of champagne and cigars, from various businessmen in exchange for preferential treatment and advancement of their private interests. In Case 2,000, Netanyahu discussed with one of Israel’s largest media tycoons an arrangement in which Netanyahu would successfully pass legislation annulling the free distribution of a rival newspaper in exchange for positive portrayal in the tycoon’s media. While Netanyahu did not accept the bribery, he did negotiate the terms of the offer – as audio recordings of the meetings have shown.  

On the final and most serious charge, Case 4,000, Netanyahu was indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.  He and members of his immediate family conveyed frequent requests for a positive portrayal of themselves and the blackening of Netanyahu’s political adversaries to another media conglomerate owner. In exchange, the Prime Minister offered to exercise his position of power to advance telecommunications regulation to the benefit of the owner.

In response to the Attorney General’s announcement, Netanyahu publicly accused Israel’s law enforcement and legal establishment of being corrupt and biased.  He called the decision to indict him an attempted coup, arguing that it is in fact the investigating team who should be investigated.

The Forecast

At this juncture, Netanyahu has three primary options.  He could try to get immunity from the Knesset.  To receive immunity, he would need the approval of the Knesset House Committee of the parliament.  Such a decision would be difficult, due to the current status of the transitional government which does not have active committees. Also, the Attorney General cannot file the indictment with the court before the Knesset reaches a decision over Netanyahu’s immunity status, a process which can start only after a new government is formed.

A second option would be to wait until he goes to trial and argue for his innocence in court. Should Netanyahu be proven guilty, he may face imprisonment.  The option of a court trial, however, would not play out for quite some time, especially given the possibility of elections where Netanyahu is likely to head Likud’s list. The final option would be a plea deal whereby Netanyahu is removed from office permanently but serves reduced to no jail time. 

What (or Who) to Watch

Israel may be entering the post-Netanyahu era, but this shift will not come quickly.  Netanyahu will fight the indictment all the way, working tirelessly to refocus the public’s attention on what he calls a disordered, conspiratorial, politically motivated investigation.  The Attorney General has stated that he will follow Israeli law in regard to Netanyahu’s continued service as Prime Minister. Unlike a minister or member of the Knesset, the Israeli Prime Minister can remain in office until there is a final court decision, even after an indictment. 

The indictment has major implications for the two largest parties, Likud and Blue & White.  In Likud, some had hoped that internal unrest would result in a change in leadership. However, the majority of the ministers have rallied around Netanyahu, potentially prioritizing their leader’s political survival over the viability of their party and, crucially, Israel’s rule of law.  The one exception is Gidon Sa’ar, who sees himself as the next leader of Likud. He attacked Netanyahu’s rhetoric against the law enforcement authorities and called for immediate primaries to contest Netanyahu’s leadership. There may also be a shakeup within the right wing bloc as a whole, if the other right wing parties turn away from their commitments to Netanyahu, although this option seems unlikely in the short term

The main objective for Benny Gantz’s party has remained to divide Netanyahu from Likud.  If Netanyahu were replaced as the party leader, the chances of Blue & White forming a coalition partnership between themselves and Likud will increase, thereby breaking the stalemate that has kept the government of Israel in limbo.

In Conclusion

Politicians on both sides view the groundbreaking indictment – as well as Netanyahu’s attack of Israel’s law enforcement authorities – as a sad and embarrassing moment, indicative of the high degree of polarization within Israeli society and politics.  Netanyahu’s legal status and political conduct has become the center of this division that has impeded numerous attempts to form a government with majority support.

Maddox Angerhofer is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service majoring in international politics, studying Jewish Civilization and Persian. She is also a member of the Georgetown lightweight women’s rowing team. Maddox is from Durham, New Hampshire. Moran Stern is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Maryland, College Park and a Graduate Fellow in Advanced Israel Studies. Since 2012, Stern has been teaching courses at the Center for Jewish Civilization on Israel and the contemporary Middle East.

RSVP to the CJC’s Final Event of the Semester!

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. We are excited to welcome Dr. Erica Lehrer to deliver her talk, “Terribly Close: Polish Vernacular Artists Face the Holocaust.” RSVP today

About the Lecture: “Terribly Close: Polish Vernacular Artists Face the Holocaust”

How can Jewish-Catholic relationships play out in the form of inanimate objects? This talk examines “folk art” made by non-professional Polish artists – most of them uneducated peasants – documenting the German Nazi occupation of Poland and the Holocaust. Made largely in the 1960s and 70s, these objects are uncanny: at times deeply moving, at others grotesque, they can also be disturbing for the ways they impose Catholic idioms on Jewish suffering, or upend accepted roles of victim, perpetrator, and bystander. Cultural anthropologist and curator Erica Lehrer describes her collaboration with Polish researchers to explore the motivations, uses, and ethical implications of these works, asking whether we might view them as legitimate “arts of witness.”

About the Speaker

Dr. Erica Lehrer is sociocultural anthropologist and curator. She is currently Professor in the departments of History and Sociology-Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal, where she also is Founding Director of the Curating and Public Scholarship Lab (CaPSL). She is the author of Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places (Indiana University Press (2013); and editor (with Shelley Butler) of Curatorial Dreams: Critics Imagine Exhibitions (McGill-Queens 2016); (with Michael Meng) of Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland (2015); and (with Cynthia Milton et al) of Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places (Palgrave 2011), as well as numerous articles. In 2013 she curated the exhibit Souvenir, Talisman, Toy and in 2018-19 co-curated Terribly Close: Polish Vernacular Artists Face the Holocaust at the Kraków Ethnographic Museum (MEK) in Poland.

About the Reception

A Hanukkah reception will precede the lecture. Please arrive at 4:00 PM for food and refreshments! Save your spot here

Any person with an accommodation request is welcome to email us at cjcinfo@georgetown.edu. We will try to meet these accommodation requests to the best of our ability.

Faculty and Student Insight Series: The Future of Israeli Politics

The CJC is pleased to launch its new blog series featuring insights from CJC professors and students. Our first piece was written by our very own Maddox Angerhofer (SFS ’22) and Professor Moran Stern. Their article below explores the current state of Israeli politics and offers insight into the future of both domestic Israeli politics and Israeli-U.S relations, at large.

The State of Affairs

In the 120-member Israeli Parliament (the Knesset), a 61 seat majority is the minimum number of seats required to form a government.  As of today, neither Benjamin Netnayahu’s Likud party nor Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party have reached this threshold after two rounds of elections this year.  Israel has been governed by a transitional government since the first round of elections this past April. In the September elections, Gantz’s Blue and White party won with 33 seats while Likud came second with 32.  At midnight on Wednesday, November 20, however, Gantz will see his mandate to form a government expire. This leaves the composition of the future government up in the air, with major implications for Israeli domestic politics and the relationship with the U.S.

The Forecast

There are four potential outcomes from this situation.  In the first and perhaps least likely, Gantz could successfully form a minority government between now and Wednesday night. This means that Blue and White and the left wing parties will form a coalition, while the Arab Joint List and Lieberman’s secular-nationalist party, Israel Beiteinu, will remain outside the coalition but will cast their support through vote or abstention. This would be the first time in Israeli history that a minority government was newly established.

In a second scenario, Gantz and Netanyahu will successfully bridge their differences and form a wide national unity government with Blue and White, Likud, and Israel Beiteinu as its anchors. This is the scenario that, at least rhetorically, all sides support.

In a third scenario, like Netanyahu before him, Gantz fails to form a government before the deadline.  At midnight on Wednesday, the mandate would be turned over to the Knesset to negotiate. A 61 member majority would still be required to form the government. While Gantz or Netanyahu would be the most likely choices for prime minister, Israeli law stipulates that any member of parliament could be selected, not the leaders of the largest parties. If the Knesset does agree on a candidate, they will have two weeks to announce their government.  

Should the members of parliament fail to obtain the necessary majority consensus, another unprecedented scenario would unfold: Israel would conduct its third round of elections since April 2019. Such a situation would only extend the time spent under a transitional government, continuing the paralysis of Israeli policy making.

What (or Who) to Watch

The fates of two men will play a significant role in determining the outcome of the current political turbulence. Netanyahu awaits a decision from the attorney general on his pending indictment, which is likely to be released sometime in the next few weeks. His personal freedom and political survivability have become the central driving force in Israeli politics over the last year and a half, and the decision from the attorney general is certain to create a political tsunami.  

The second man to watch is Avigdor Lieberman.  With neither Likud nor Blue and White commanding a majority, Lieberman’s small party has taken on an outsized role in determining who can reach the threshold to assemble a government. He has said he would only be willing to join a liberal national unity government with Likud, Blue and White, and Israel Beiteinu, at the exclusion of right-wing religious and ultra-Orthodox parties.  The eight seats won by Israel Beiteinu in the September election have become the focal point of coalition building, putting Lieberman in the position of kingmaker.

Implications for the U.S.

President Trump had hoped close ties with Netanyahu could boost his efforts to win a second presidential term by mobilizing American conservative Jews and Evangelicals.  The recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian-occupied Golan Heights and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, along with the subsequent relocation of the American embassy in late 2017, represented strong goodwill gestures toward Netanyahu. Even more significant was Trump’s decertification of the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) and the classification of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.  Since Netanyahu’s two consecutive failures to win elections, Trump has altered his tactics to be less explicitly focused on supporting Netanyahu, and more amicable toward Israel as a whole. This change comes as the future of Israeli leadership remains uncertain. Finally, the release of the “deal of the century” on the Israeli-Palestinian issue will likely be delayed until such a time as Israel can produce an elected government. This timeline may keep the contents of the deal undisclosed until after the U.S. presidential election.

Maddox Angerhofer is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service majoring in international politics, studying Jewish Civilization and Persian. She is also a member of the Georgetown lightweight women’s rowing team. Maddox is from Durham, New Hampshire. Moran Stern is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Maryland, College Park and a Graduate Fellow in Advanced Israel Studies. Since 2012, Stern has been teaching courses at the Center for Jewish Civilization on Israel and the contemporary Middle East.

RSVP to our Exhibition Discussion, “Re-Generation. Jewish Life in Poland”!

The Center for Jewish Civilization is pleased to invite you to “Re-Generation. Jewish Life in Poland”! RSVP today!

About the Event 

Press photographer Chuck Fishman achieved great renown for his work, having won the World Press Photo Foundation medal four times, and having been featured on the covers of magazines such as Life, Newsweek, Time, and Fortune. The Jewish Historical Institute’s exhibit “Re-Generation. Jewish Life in Poland,” explores the history of Jewish communities in post-war Poland throughout a 43-year period.

The images selected for the “Re-Generation. Jewish life In Poland” exhibition cover different periods and are divided into two parts. The earlier ones taken in the 1970s and 1980s depict the few remaining members of the “struggling” remnant Jewish communities of Kraków, Wrocław, Warsaw, Lublin, Łódź, Przemyśl. In contrast, the photographs taken since 2000 (the most recent ones at the 75th commemoration of the Ghetto Uprising in 2018) present the renewed Jewish congregations and organizations where jubilant young people demonstrate enthusiasm and astuteness as they engage in the renewal of Jewish religious and cultural life in the country. This discussion will explore Fishman’s multi-faceted documentation of Jewish life.

About the Speakers

This panel discussion will featuring many renowned speakers, including:

Dr. Edyta Gawron (Jewish Studies Institute, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland)

Jakub Nowakowski (Director, Galicia Jewish Museum, Krakow, Poland)

Shana Penn (Executive Director, Taube Philanthropies, San Francisco, CA)

Dr. Anna Sommer Schneider (Center for Jewish Civilization, Georgetown University, Washington DC)

With opening remarks by Chuck Fishman, Author of the Exhibition.

Any person with an accommodation request is welcome to email us at cjcinfo@georgetown.edu. We will try to meet these accommodation requests to the best of our ability.

RSVP to “Welcoming the Stranger: Abrahamic Hospitality and Its Contemporary Implications”!

The Center for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University is pleased to invite you to its upcoming conference, Welcoming the Stranger. The event will take pace in the Arrupe Multipurpose Room on Georgetown University’s Main Campus. RSVP on the CJC eventbrite today!

About the event:

The Center for Jewish Civilization and its cosponsors (Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Georgetown Jewish Life, The Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Alfanar, and The Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art, Inc. ) are pleased to announce its upcoming conference, Welcoming the Stranger: Abrahamic Hospitality and Its Contemporary Implications. This forum will examine the positive and negative receptions of strangers in the three Abrahamic traditions through Biblical and historical anecdotes. Our examination will be deepened by a reevaluation of welcoming strangers around the world over the past 85 years. From forced isolation leading to genocide, to the refusal of asylum, we seek to understand the repercussions of welcoming and rejecting strangers in our modern, interconnected world. RSVP today!

Conference Agenda and Speakers:

10:00 am Welcome Remarks

10:05 am Introductions

Dr. Ori Z. Soltes, Professor of the Teaching of Jewish Civilization, Center for Jewish Civilization, Georgetown University

10:15 am – 11:45 am First Panel

“Welcoming the Stranger in Judaism”

Rabbi Rachel Gartner, Director for Jewish Life, Campus Ministry, Georgetown University

“Welcoming the Stranger in Christianity”

Reverend Craig Mousin, Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, DePaul University

“Welcoming the Stranger in Islam”

Dr. Zeki Saritoprak, Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies, John Carroll University

11:45 am – 12:45 pm

Lunch Served

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm – Second Panel

Rachel Stern, Founding Director and CEO, Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art, Inc.

Dr. Lindsay Balfour, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies, Concordia College

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Q&A with all of the Speakers

3:30 pm – 4:15 pm Endnote Conversation

Carol Prendergast, Senior Policy Advisor on Refugees, Victims of Torture and other Marginalized Communities & Venture Philanthropy Advisor, Alfanar

4:15 pm – 4:30 pm

Closing Remarks

Any person with an accommodation request is welcome to email us at cjcinfo@georgetown.edu. We will try to meet these accommodation requests to the best of our ability. 

The CJC Looks Back at “The Bystander Effect” with Professor Danielle Pletka

About the Event 

The third annual Andrew H. Siegal Memorial Lecture took place on Thursday, October 17. The Center for Jewish Civilization’s Professor Danielle Pletka spoke about “The Bystander Effect: When Bad Things Happen in the World and No One Cares.” CJC Director and Rabbi Harold White Professor of Jewish Civilization Jacques Berlinerblau provided introductory remarks and thanked the Andrew Siegal Foundation for its ongoing support of the CJC. Professor Pletka then began her urgent call to action against global injustices, and decried the ongoing lack of response to current issues, such as the ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims and the internment of Muslim Uighurs in China. Pletka ended her compelling lecture by asserting her belief that “the world will be a better place when we [the United States] lead.

About the Speaker 

Danielle Pletka is the Andrew H. Siegal Professor at the Center for Jewish Civilization in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. She is also the Senior Vice President for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Before joining AEI, Ms. Pletka was a longtime senior professional staff member for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where she specialized in the Near East and South Asia.

Ms. Pletka has authored, coauthored, and coedited a variety of studies and book chapters, including the report “Tehran Stands Atop the Syria-Iran Alliance” (Atlantic Council, 2017), and the chapter “America in Decline” in Debating the Obama Presidency (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

The CJC Holds Its Second Brown Bag Lunch

About the Event 

After a successful inaugural Brown Bag lunch with Professor Moran Stern in which students discussed the 2019 Israeli elections, the Center for Jewish Civilization held its next installment of the popular series. On October 16, Professor Andrej Umansky discussed anti-Semitism in North America and Europe with CJC students in an emergency Brown Bag lunch inspired by the tragic Halle synagogue shooting, which took place on the 9th of October. Umansky paid special attention to the complex politics of Germany, educating students about political and economic disparities between the country’s east and west regions. Specifically, Professor Umansky stressed that relatively high unemployment rates in eastern Germany are a determinant of the resurgence of far-right and anti-Semitic sentiments in the region. Furthermore, Umansky noted a lack of policy responses to the problem of anti-Semitism in Germany. Similar themes were explored in CJC’s Professor Danielle Pletka’s October 17 Andrew H. Siegal Memorial Lecture, “The Bystander Effect: When Bad Things Happen in the World and No One Cares.” 

There is more to come from the CJC’s Brown Bag Lunch Series–– stay tuned, students! 

About the Professor 

Andrej Umansky is the Center for Jewish Civilization’s Braman Post-Doctoral Fellow. Additionally, Professor Umansky also serves on the Board of Directors of Yahad in Unum. As a member of the leadership team at Yahad, Mr. Umansky works to advance the mission of the organization through forensic investigation, academia, and community engagement.

The CJC Looks Back at “The Use and Abuse of the Holocaust in Political Discourse Today”

On October 10, the Center for Jewish Civilization held “The Use and Abuse of the Holocaust in Political Discourse Today” with Ambassador David Saperstein. The CJC’s Associate Director, Dr. Anna Sommer, provided introductory remarks, after which Ambassador Saperstein began his instructive lecture about modern invocations of the Holocaust in politics and discourse. At the core of the event was the fraught question of whether or not events should be compared to the Holocaust. Saperstein revisited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s June 24 press release, which rejected “efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary.” Ambassador Saperstein assessed existing surveys, ads, and speeches, and created an interactive environment in which members of the audience could discuss their opinions about the problematic. 

Ambassador Saperstein offered his nuanced view of the subject, noting that while comparing every historical event to the Holocaust would “diminish” its significance and distinct nature, viewing the Holocaust as something too unique to be referenced in political discourse inhibits the world from learning from it. Ultimately, Sapestein asserted that “one of the most valuable lessons” to be learned from the Holocaust is that any genocide or ethnic cleansing must be stopped as soon as “the first identifiable actions…first appear.”

About the Speaker

Ambassador Saperstein was the U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom from January 2015 to January 2017. He is currently an adjunct professor with the Walsh School of Foreign Service’s Center for Jewish Civilization and previously was a senior research fellow of the Religious Freedom Research Project at the Berkley Center. An ordained rabbi, he served for several decades as the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism representing the public policy positions of the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest segment of American Jewry, to the government and leading the movement’s efforts to strengthen social justice programming in synagogues across North America.

RSVP to the 2019 Andrew H. Siegal Lecture with Professor Danielle Pletka!

The Center for Jewish Civilization invites you to attend the annual Andrew H. Siegal Memorial Lecture featuring Danielle Pletka. RSVP today!
About the Event

The Bystander Effect: When Bad Things Happen in the World and No One Cares. Democracy is on the wane, anti-Semitism is on the rise, jihadis are coming back, rogue regimes feel secure, and it seems that few politicians or world leaders truly care. Is it the 1930s all over again? What should America do in this new and dangerous time?

About the Speaker

Danielle Pletka is a visiting lecturer at the Center for Jewish Civilization and an adjunct professor at the Walsh School of Foreign Service. She is also the Senior Vice President for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Before joining AEI, Ms. Pletka was a longtime senior professional staff member for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where she specialized in the Near East and South Asia.

Ms. Pletka has authored, coauthored, and coedited a variety of studies and book chapters, including the report “Tehran Stands Atop the Syria-Iran Alliance” (Atlantic Council, 2017), and the chapter “America in Decline” in Debating the Obama Presidency (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

A reception with light hors d’oeuvres will take place at 2:45pm. RSVP is strongly encouraged.

Any person with an accommodation request is welcome to email us at cjcinfo@georgetown.edu. We will try to meet these accommodation requests to the best of our ability.