CJC Student Spotlight: Samuel Gang (SFS ’21)

The Center for Jewish Civilization is pleased to announce the latest installment of its Student Spotlight Series. This month’s spotlight is Samuel Gang, a senior in the School of Foreign Service from Bethlehem. Gang majors in International Politics and minors in both Arabic and Jewish Civilization. At the CJC, Gang developed his interests in counterterrorism and political and religious extremism. Read our interview with him below to learn about his experiences as a CJCer and on the Hilltop.

Q: How and why did you join the CJC?

A: I first learned about the CJC during orientation, week when I briefly stopped by a CJC event. I conversed with Professor Jacques Berlinerblau and mentioned that I was interested in the politics of the Middle East. He convinced me to come to other CJC events and consider a certificate. I realized that many of the courses offered by the Center align with my regional interest and count towards my major, International Politics. I also wanted to learn about the region through a multidisciplinary approach and differing viewpoints.

 

Q: What was your first CJC class?

A: I actually took three CJC classes during the first semester I decided to pursue a certificate, which were “Re-examining the Middle East Crisis through Literature and Film,”  “Israel and Arab Spring,” and “Intro to Jewish Civilization.”

 

Q: Have you had an extensive experience abroad? If so, how has it informed your studies and time at the CJC?

A: Although I lived in the Middle East before starting my undergraduate studies at Georgetown, I was always interested in learning more about the region by approaching it through different perspectives and disciplines. The CJC was the perfect place to explore my interest since its courses and programming approach the Middle East in more than just a political lens. In many of the classes, I was happy to contribute to class discussions about events that I have personally experienced.

 

Q: What are some of your research and academic interests? How have you developed them as a CJC student?

A: I had my regional interests before coming to the CJC. Though I had the opportunity to explore classes about counterterrorism and both political and religious extremism as a student in the Center. This led me to intern for the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where I spent time translating and analyzing extremist groups’ literature and videos from Syria. I am particularly interested in researching about Huras al-Din, an AQ affiliate based in Idlib. My other interests include the Israel and Gulf relationship, particularly in light of the growing Iranian influence in the region.

 

Q: What has been your favorite CJC class thus far?

A: My favorite class was “Re-examining the Middle East Crisis through Literature and Film” with Professor Meital Orr. I took it during the second semester of freshman year. I enjoyed the class because it offered us a background to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a humanities-oriented framework, as opposed to just a political lens. In fact, my main takeaway from the class was that Israeli and Palestinian literature and symbolism allows us to see connections between people that might not be readily apparent in politics and a conflict setting.

 

Q: Can you tell us a little about the research and administrative work you completed for the CJC during the summer? Did you have other work experiences last summer?

A:   I assisted Director Bruce Hoffman with administrative work by organizing class materials. Additionally, I worked as an intern for an Australian strategic consultancy firm called Arcana Partners, researching how disasters and emergencies play into “accelerationism” and the narrative of extremist groups.

 

Q: Have you had a very memorable CJC experience thus far? How has the CJC informed your time at Georgetown?

A: The CJC introduced me to some of my favorite classes and mentors, including professors and students. The Center has  offered me the most supportive community, one that regularly checks in with me and discusses internship and career opportunities. When I had to undergo emergency surgery earlier in the summer, the staff and students were very concerned and supported me through phone calls and by sending me wonderful books to read!

 

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your Master’s program? Additionally, what are some of your professional goals for the future?

A: Currently, I am pursuing an M.A. in Security Studies through an accelerated degree program. I plan to concentrate on terrorism and substate violence. As a Korean citizen, I have to serve in the military and hope to be part of the Korea UNIFIL mission in Lebanon or anywhere else in the region where I can use my language skills. Afterward, I hope to pursue a career at a think tank or the United Nations.

 

Q: What do you look forward to during your last year on the Hilltop? How have you been making the most of our online environment?

A: Last semester, I came to Sydney, Australia as a study abroad student and lived at St. Paul’s residential college at the University of Sydney. I decided to continue to live here until the end of the year and take Georgetown classes virtually. I have been able to take advantage of experiencing college life both in Sydney and Georgetown. While participating in many of the webinars hosted by Georgetown and think tanks in DC, I am also able to physically partake in many events–both academic and athletic– while being in Australia. I look forward to further engaging with my peers and friends at my Master’s program if we return to campus next semester.

 

Q: What are some other clubs you’re involved in and activities you engage in at Georgetown?

A: I have been involved as the treasurer of the GU Arab Society and directed many MUN committees through the International Relations Club.

Don’t Forget: RSVP to our Fall Events!

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Israeli-Emirati Normalization and its Implications for the Middle East
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Online Lecture
Zoom Invitations Will Be Sent to All RSVPs

RSVP Here

About the Event:

Join Ambassador Dennis Ross, a veteran negotiator and expert on Israeli-Arab relations, as he sheds light on the announcement that Israel and the United Arab Emirates will normalize relations. Amb. Ross will illuminate the origins of the historic announcement, discuss its implications for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and explore its ramifications for the wider region.

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.

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.
 

Thank you for your interest in “Israeli-Emirati Normalization and its Implications for the Middle East.” Please note that the CJC reserves the right to cancel this virtual lecture in the event of any major changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. We prioritize the health of our audience foremost, and hope that this online event will foster a sense of community as we transition to a virtual learning environment. 

 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

From Checkpoint to Waze: Israel as a Cyber Tiger

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Online Lecture
Zoom Invitations Will Be Sent to All RSVPs

A new Eventbrite link will be distributed within the next few days!

About the Event

Join the Center for Jewish Civilization for its first event of the semester! Professor Eviatar Matania will discuss current threats in cyberspace; elections in the cyber age, the risk to critical infrastructures; power, supremacy and deterrence in the cyber world; Israel as a cyber nation; and the strategic cyber alliance between the US and Israel.

About the Speaker

Professor Eviatar Matania is a professor at the School of Political Sciences, Government and International Affairs at Tel Aviv University, where he heads the MA program of Security Studies and the MA program of cyber politics and government. Matania is also an Adjunct Professor at Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, where he convenes the Cyber Module. Matania was the founding head and former Director General of the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) in the Israeli Prime Minister office, where he reported directly to the Prime Minister, and was responsible for Israel’s overall cyber strategy, policy and its implementation to defend the Israeli civilian sector. On 31 December 2017 he completed his six-year term.

During the last two years Matania has been co-heading the Smart Systems (AI) National Initiative to recommend the PM and the government about a national plan to promote Israel as a global power in AI. Matania has been a thought leader in policies of technologies, from both national and organizational perspectives, cyber strategies and national security issues, participating in the foremost international fora, and engaged by leading global companies and global VCs, by top league universities (Harvard Kennedy School, Columbia, George Washington University), as well as by top government officials and formal committees (such as the US Senate Committees and Sub-Committee and the Israeli National Security Advisor).

Matania is a graduate of the Israeli military-academic prestigious Talpiot Program and he holds a B.Sc. in Physics and Mathematics (honors, Hebrew University of Jerusalem), a M.Sc. in Mathematics with an expertise in Game Theory (honors, Tel Aviv University), and a Ph.D. in Judgment and Decision Making (Hebrew University of Jerusalem).

 

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.
 

Thank you for your interest in “From Checkpoint to WazeIsrael as a Cyber Tiger.” Please note that the CJC reserves the right to cancel this virtual lecture in the event of any major changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. We prioritize the health of our audience foremost, and hope that this online event will foster a sense of community as we transition to a virtual learning environment. 

RSVP to “From Checkpoint to Waze: Israel as a Cyber Tiger”

The Center for Jewish Civilization invites you to Professor Eviatar Matania’s virtual lecture, “From Checkpoint to Waze: Israel as a Cyber Tiger.” A new Eventbrite link will be distributed within the next few days! 

Professor Eviatar Matania’s virtual lecture will take place on Tuesday, October 6, at 12 PM. It will only be accessible to all viewers via Zoom. Zoom invitations will only be emailed to all those who RSVP. 

About the event:

Join the Center for Jewish Civilization for its first event of the semester! Professor Eviatar Matania will discuss current threats in cyberspace; elections in the cyber age, the risk to critical infrastructures; power, supremacy and deterrence in the cyber world; Israel as a cyber nation; and the strategic cyber alliance between the US and Israel.

About the Speaker

Professor Eviatar Matania is a professor at the School of Political Sciences, Government and International Affairs at Tel Aviv University, where he heads the MA program of Security Studies and the MA program of cyber politics and government. Matania is also an Adjunct Professor at Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, where he convenes the Cyber Module. Matania was the founding head and former Director General of the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) in the Israeli Prime Minister office, where he reported directly to the Prime Minister, and was responsible for Israel’s overall cyber strategy, policy and its implementation to defend the Israeli civilian sector. On 31 December 2017 he completed his six-year term.

During the last two years Matania has been co-heading the Smart Systems (AI) National Initiative to recommend the PM and the government about a national plan to promote Israel as a global power in AI. Matania has been a thought leader in policies of technologies, from both national and organizational perspectives, cyber strategies and national security issues, participating in the foremost international fora, and engaged by leading global companies and global VCs, by top league universities (Harvard Kennedy School, Columbia, George Washington University), as well as by top government officials and formal committees (such as the US Senate Committees and Sub-Committee and the Israeli National Security Advisor).

Matania is a graduate of the Israeli military-academic prestigious Talpiot Program and he holds a B.Sc. in Physics and Mathematics (honors, Hebrew University of Jerusalem), a M.Sc. in Mathematics with an expertise in Game Theory (honors, Tel Aviv University), and a Ph.D. in Judgment and Decision Making (Hebrew University of Jerusalem).

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. 

Thank you for your interest in “From Checkpoint to Waze: Israel as a Cyber Tiger.” Please note that the CJC reserves the right to cancel this virtual lecture in the event of any major changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. We prioritize the health of our audience foremost, and hope that this online event will foster a sense of community as we transition to a virtual learning environment. 

CJC Student Spotlight: Liam Scott (SFS ’23)

The Center for Jewish Civilization reintroduced its Student Spotlight Series to showcase the diversity and wide-ranging accomplishments of its students. This month’s spotlight is Liam Scott, a rising sophomore from Connecticut in the School of Foreign Service. This year, Scott plans on declaring his major in International Politics. His engagement with the Center has been guided by his longtime academic and research interests in both genocide and Holocaust studies. At the CJC, Scott serves as a research assistant for Father Desbois and Professor Andrej Umansky, each of whom engage in groundbreaking forensic research on the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. Read our interview with him below to learn about his research interests and experience on the Hilltop.

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Q: Could you tell me about how you joined the CJC? 

A: I went to a CJC event early in the fall semester and found it really interesting. I got an email from the CJC after the event that encouraged student attendees to get involved with the Center, so I reached out to Brittany Fried to inquire about any opportunities related to Holocaust and genocide studies research, which is a topic that I have been passionate about for a couple years now. Brittany helped put me in touch with Dr. Umansky and Father Desbois, and I have been a research assistant ever since! I was looking for a place where I could pursue my passion for genocide studies, and I found that with the CJC.

 

Q: What was your first CJC class?

A: I will be taking Holocaust by Bullets as my first CJC class this fall.

 

Q: When did you develop your research and academic interests in genocide and hate studies?

A: My interest in genocide studies began in high school. I went on a school trip to Cambodia the summer after my junior year. While there, we learned about the Cambodian genocide, and I was struck by how little I knew about not only the Cambodian genocide, but also genocide more broadly. So during my senior year, I engaged in an Independent Study with a teacher, through which we designed the course Genocide: Media, Remembrance, and the International Community. The course is now taught at my high school. I also engaged in an interview project with genocide survivors and descendants of genocide survivors toward the end of my senior year. These experiences were indelibly transformative and impactful. They were formative in sparking my interest in human rights and genocide studies.

 

Q: You have been so helpful to the Center this summer. Can you tell us a little about what you have been working on for the CJC the past few months?

A: I have been helping Dr. Umansky acquire primary sources regarding the Holocaust from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I’m grateful that I have had the opportunity to continue this work throughout the summer, and I’m happy that I am able to contribute, even in a small way, to research on a topic that I am passionate about.

 

Q: What new insights have you gained through your research?

A: My research for CJC faculty has led to new ways of thinking about the Holocaust that I otherwise may never have been exposed to. My experience as a research assistant has only further cemented my belief in the urgency of Holocaust research. The Holocaust is, after all, what led Raphael Lemkin to coin the term “genocide” and work to mark it as an international crime under the Genocide Convention. It is to this end that I believe we cannot fully understand genocide at large without studying the Holocaust and its implications for international human rights law.

 

Q: If you have been engaging in any other research or professional activities this summer, what have they been?

A: I have also been doing remote internships with Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal, The Uyghur Human Rights Project, and the Embassy of Timor-Leste in Washington, D.C.

 

Q: Have you had a very memorable CJC experience thus far? How has the CJC informed your time at Georgetown?

A: Many moments come to mind, but perhaps more broadly I think of the many events that the CJC holds—both formal events with academics and practitioners and informal social events. The educational events are always interesting and thought-provoking, and the CJC community is always very friendly and welcoming. I think that being passionate about Holocaust and genocide studies is not overwhelmingly popular, so I have appreciated meeting people with similar interests through the CJC. I was looking for a place where I could pursue genocide studies, which I found, but I also found a network of friendly, caring, and helpful individuals.

 

Q: What are some of your professional goals for the future? What do you look forward to during your next few years on the Hilltop?

A: During my career, I hope to engage in a mixture of journalism, international human rights law, and diplomacy. Presently, I’m most looking forward to just returning to campus—hopefully it is safe to do so sometime soon. I am also looking forward to engaging in more research related to the Holocaust with the CJC and growing as both a student and person.

 

Q: What are some other clubs you’re involved in and activities you engage in at Georgetown?

A: I am an Editorial Assistant for the Society and Culture section of The Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, I write for the Features section of The Hoya, and I am on the club equestrian team.

Take a Look at the CJC’s Fall 1-Credit Course Offerings!

The Center for Jewish Civilization is pleased to announce its lineup of Fall 2020 (virtual) one-credit courses! For a look at our complete Fall 2020 course offerings, visit this link.

Bringing Nazis to Justice, JCIV 025

Professor Andrej Umansky

Saturdays: Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31

11:00 AM – 1:30 PM

Course Description

After the Nuremberg trials, Germany and other countries brought Nazis to justice for Holocaust-related crimes. These trials ran over decades, with varying degrees of success. State interests, legal issues and public opinion were some of the many hurdles to justice. The most recent trial against a Nazi criminal ended in July 2020: Bruno Dey, a guard at the concentration camp of Stutthof in Poland, was found guilty of complicity in the murder of more than 5,000 prisoners. Dey was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence.

Why do these trials still take place? Why are they taking place only now, almost 80 years after the fact? We will approach these questions and others during the class through analysis of trial material, historical backgrounds and geopolitics. This 1-credit course runs from 11:00am -1:30pm EST on 5 consecutive Saturdays: October 3, October 10, October 17, October 24, and October 31, 2020.

 

Israeli National Security Decision Making, JCIV 279

Professor Sarah Fainberg

Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays: Nov. 16 – Nov. 20

11:00 AM – 1:30 PM

Course Description

This modular course provides a hands-on insight into Israel’s national security challenges, dilemmas, strategies, policymaking, and implementation in an increasingly turbulent and volatile Middle East. Together we shall explore the unique conditions that have framed Israel’s national security decision-making including Regional and Great Power dynamics, the weight of the intelligence agencies and of the military vs. the relative weakness of the civilian national security organs, and the limitations resulting from the proportional electoral system. We shall also examine rising variables in Israel’s national security thinking and strategy including, among others, information warfare and societal resilience. The course includes four lectures and a wrap-up wargaming session: 1) Israel’s Emerging Threats in the Regional and Global Arenas 2) Adapting Israel’s National Security Doctrine 3) Israel’ Decision-Making in Practice: Structure, Mechanisms, and Power Struggles 4) Case Study Analysis: The Israeli-Russian Tango in Syria and Beyond 5) Wargaming Session. Students will participate in the wargame simulation by playing the moves and countermoves of Israel’s national security stakeholders. Students shall be trained to formulate security assessments, generate policy-oriented solutions, and examine their policy objectives and unexpected outcomes. This course is designed to improve decision-making skills across a wide range of policy areas and empower students and young professionals in the foreign policy and national security realms. This is a non-standard class. Dr. Fainberg’s 1-credit course meets from November 16 – November 20.

 

To Pray or Not Pray? JCIV 017

Rabbi Rachel Garner

Tuesdays: Oct. 15 – Dec. 18, 10:00 AM – 10:55 AM

Saturdays: Nov. 14 & Dec. 5, 11:00 AM – 1:30 PM

Course Description

To Pray or Not to Pray? Judaism as a Civilization Is Judaism a religion or an ethnicity? Do Jews believe in the Afterlife? My grandmother never went to synagogue, so why did she care if I married a Jew? What does it mean to sit shiva? This broad exploration of Judaism will take as a point of departure the notion that Judaism is neither a religion nor an ethnicity but instead a civilization. It will have two central foci. First, we’ll explore what it means to define Judaism as a civilization. Second, we’ll take a deep dive into the religious dimension of the Jewish Civilization as we study the core religious ideas and practices that animate, shape and reshape Jewish life. Students with all levels of background are welcome. The intention is that this course will have something for everyone. For those entirely new to the subject, it should serve as an accessible introduction to Judaism. For those with more familiarity with the subject (on any level of depth), this course aims to shed new light on the existing ways one thinks about and understands Judaism. Rabbi Rachel Gartner’s 1-credit course meets from October 15 – December 18, 2020.

The Off Season: CJC Student Summers

The Center for Jewish Civilization is pleased to present the second installment of “The Off Season.” Historically, the CJC has offered guidance on the application process for internships, research positions, fellowships, and jobs. We asked a handful of students what they are up to during this extraordinary summer. Despite unusual circumstances, some of our CJCers have managed to continue their research work and intern remotely. Here is what they had to report!

Maddox Angerhofer

“This summer, I am studying Persian intensively through a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, while working on a few research projects.  In June, along with my 3 coauthors, I was invited to present research from a Spring Centennial Lab with Professor Dan Byman on national security and social media.  We presented at the U.S. Army Futures Command Information Warfare Conference.  A write up can be found on the U.S. Army website and a recording of the web conference is available on YouTube. Additionally, I am continuing to assist CJC Professor Moran Stern with his research on Palestinian domestic politics.”

Maddox Angerhofer is a rising junior in the School of Foreign Service from Durham, New Hampshire. She majors in International Politics with a concentration in security. Additionally, she minors in Persian and pursuing a certificate in Jewish Civilization.

Matthew Davis 

“This summer, I am taking a philosophy class about the TV show BoJack Horseman, as well as interning with Congressman Jim Cooper who represents Tennessee’s Fifth District. Throughout my internship, I am learning about how Congress is adapting during the pandemic. Additionally, I am expanding my knowledge on issues including systemic racism, economic inequality, and voter suppression in Tennessee.”

Matthew Davis

Matthew Davis is a rising junior in the School of Foreign Service from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Davis majors in Regional and Comparative Studies.

Tara Maloney

“This summer I am working as a research assistant for Dr. Elizabeth Grimm Arsenault (of Georgetown University) and Dr. Tricia Bacon (of American University). We are in the process of writing a book on leadership, decapitation, and the transfer of authority in terrorist organizations. The particular focus of the book is on how leaders of terrorist groups affect the organizational culture and structure, and when a change in leadership occurs, how that transition changes both the new leadership and the makeup of the group. Over the summer, I have been working on researching and writing the empirical case study on al-Qaida in Iraq and, subsequently, the Islamic State of Iraq. The case study explores AQI/ISI as a highly institutionalized group which also existed in an extremely high counterterrorism pressure environment, and under the command of a charismatic and hands-on leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.”

Tara Maloney

Tara Maloney is a rising senior in the School of Foreign Service from Madison, Connecticut. Maloney majors in International Politics with a concentration in security studies. 

Cheyenne Martin

“This summer I am managing social media and doing logistics and research work for a non-profit global classical music organization called Lyrica Classic. I’m also volunteering to help transcribe and translate documents from the Smithsonian and National Archive online. Additionally, I am participating in an entrepreneurship fellowship where I’m creating a podcast on my own. On the podcast I discuss the more taboo topics of YouTube with some of the creators on the site. When I am not doing volunteer work or podcasting, I am completing preliminary research for my history thesis about the musical response to the massive right wing movement during the Thatcher era.”

Cheyenne Martin

Cheyenne Martin is a rising senior in the College from Santa Fe, Tennessee. Martin majors in History and is pursuing a minor in both Government and Jewish Civilization. 

Ria Pradhan

“This summer, I have spent my time taking classes, doing research, and interning at the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition as a Research and Advocacy Intern. In my role at the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, I advocate to increase the supply of housing to combat the Bay Area’s regional affordability and displacement crisis.

As a Georgetown University research assistant, I am working with the CJC’s Professor Jacques Berlinerblau on various endeavors relating to secularism. I am also working with Professors Berlinerblau and Shareen Joshi of the Asian Studies Department, on a project about judicial systems and social justice in India. I hope to apply the skills I have gained this summer to my passion for development economics in South Asia.”

Ria Pradhan

Ria Pradhan is a rising sophomore in the School of Foreign Service from the San Francisco Bay Area, and plans to major in International Political Economy. 

Thank you for sharing, CJCers! For more updates on our students and programming this summer, be sure to regularly visit our website, follow us on Twitter, and on Instagram.

Incoming Letter from CJC Director Bruce Hoffman

Dear CJC Community:

Amidst all the upheaval and uncertainty today in the world, in this country, and on our campus, we are fortunate that the CJC’s core values of diversity and inclusiveness as well as its long-standing commitment to social justice and tikkun olam—repairing the world—remain as important and relevant as they are timeless. That these values align so closely with those of the Jesuit university which is our home, is an additional source of strength and replenishment in these especially trying times.

Under Professor Berlinerblau’s leadership, the CJC established an impressively solid foundation of expertise in the religion, literature, history, culture, language, music, politics, and diplomacy of the Jewish people. My intention is to build on that legacy and further energize the CJC’s efforts in new directions, especially the study and countering of hate and intolerance. Among my other priorities is to expand our curriculum on Israel studies and also further deepen our understanding of the Holocaust.

I am at once both honored and humbled to have this opportunity to work with you to ensure the CJC’s continued vitality and consolidate the remarkable success it has achieved during Professor Berlinerblau’s decade-and-a-half as director. There will eventually come a time when the pandemic will be over and we all will again be able to gather to celebrate in person our friendship and fellowship. Until then, I am eager to meet and hear from you whether individually, in small groups (health and safety concerns permitting), via Zoom, or over the telephone.

With best wishes and kindest regards,

 

Yours ever,

Bruce Hoffman

Bruce Hoffman

Statement on the Ongoing Fight Against Racial Injustice

Dear Students of the Center for Jewish Civilization,

We are writing to express our deepest sympathy to those affected by the tragedies and losses of these past few months. We wanted to reach out to you to convey our shock, concern, and anger at the murder of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, the continued brutalization of our brothers and sisters, and the abhorrent actions of our current national leadership. We feel no need to couch this notice in cautious tones, institutional cadences, and empty platitudes. The situation is unacceptable, has been unacceptable, and will never change unless every one of us devotes our thoughts and actions to bringing about structural change.

We stand in solidarity with the Black community in the ongoing fight against injustice. As an academic center, we need to use our privilege to educate ourselves on the continued threat of systemic oppression and its tolerance of police brutality. To this end, we need to recognize and confront racism, not only in our community, but within ourselves. And we need to share this knowledge, and the process through which we attained it, with our students. 

Since our founding, we have taught students about Jewish Civilization’s role in the global community. We have dedicated ourselves to putting our undergraduates first, and aspired to learn from their diverse experiences. Our Center exposes explicit and implicit forms of antisemitism, and their culmination into crimes of hatred. But we strive to take this one step further. By drawing parallels between biases, prejudices, and ideologies, we challenge our students to monitor and combat all forms of hatred.  

Please remember that the CJC’s faculty members and administrators are always available as a resource. For your reference, we have linked additional programs and services offered by Georgetown affiliate programs. Please also note that Georgetown Jewish Life and the Jewish Student Association will be hosting a moderated conversation, “Let’s Talk Racial Justice,” today at 9 PM EDT. Rabbi Rachel Gartner will moderate the discussion, and you can find out more about the event by emailing jewishlife@georgetown.edu

This is not a moment, but a movement. We must commit all of our efforts, as we embark upon another effort to repair a broken world.    

Yours in solidarity,

Professor Jacques Berlinerblau, Director, CJC

Professor Bruce Hoffman, Incoming Director, CJC

Professor Anna Sommer, Associate Director, CJC 

Professor Jessica Roda, Assistant Director, CJC

Jocelyn Flores, Program Coordinator, CJC

Brittany Fried, Center Manager, CJC

Bethania Michael, Research Specialist & Signature Events Coordinator, CJC

Have a CJC Summer!

School may be out, but the Center for Jewish Civilization will have plenty of updates this summer! Be sure to regularly check our website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for news.

CJC Student Spotlight: Yebin Won (SFS ’22)

This month, the Center for Jewish Civilization is reintroducing its Student Spotlight Series! Our spotlight is Yebin Won, a sophomore in the School of Foreign service majoring in International Politics with a concentration in Security Studies. Recently, she was awarded funding to conduct independent research this summer. The Lisa J. Raines Fellowship provides up to $5,000 in funding for successful applicants; 66 Georgetown students have won the award in the past 20 years. Won, who is from Singapore and Seoul, South Korea, will conduct research on the incel movement this summer. In the fall, she plans to study ethnopolitical conflicts at Oxford University. Read our interview with her below to learn about her research interests and experience on the Hilltop.

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Q: Could you tell us about how you joined the CJC? What were some of the push factors?

A: I first learned about the CJC while being in Prof. Berlinerblau’s freshman proseminar, Fictions of Politics and International Relations. I came to Georgetown interested in learning about genocide prevention and ethnopolitical conflicts. After talking with Prof. Berlinerblau, CJC staff, and students about the center, I knew CJC was the place for me. Everyone was so sweet and welcoming whenever I was at the Center, and as a brand-new freshman I was drawn to its sense of community and warmth. It also didn’t hurt that Prof. Berlinerblau is very persuasive!

Q: What was you first CJC class?

A: My first (and favorite) CJC class was Holocaust Forensics with Fr. Desbois and Fr. McManus. It was an absolutely riveting class – I had superficial knowledge of the Holocaust from my fourth-grade history unit, but this class took it to a whole new level. In addition to learning about concepts like “perpetrator culture” and the stages of a genocide, the class’s impact was further augmented by our trip to Lviv, Ukraine. Following Fr. Desbois, we visited mass graves of Holocaust victims, interviewed witnesses, and examined the legacy of the Holocaust in Ukraine. I still find myself flipping through our syllabus, reminding myself of our readings and the discussions; so much of this class informed me of my studies as well as my how I might translate my academic pursuits into meaningful forms of service.

Q: You have just won a Raines award to research incels this summer. Congratulations! Can you tell us about how you developed this research interest and what you hope to accomplish this summer?

A: I was inspired to pursue my research into incels (involuntary celibates) when I attended Professor Bruce Hoffman’s talk on incels and their interaction with online far-right groups this January. When Professor Hoffman detailed key incel rhetoric and jargon, I was struck by how common these features were in everyday social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. After doing some research, I found that there was a group of Asian incels separate from the mainstream, predominantly white “inceldom.” Despite being thoroughly disturbed by their violently misogynistic rhetoric, especially against Asian women, I was drawn to studying them, as they embodied a very unique space in online extremism and radicalization. They not only juggled a multitude of identities (e.g. race, gender expression), but also showed no noticeable violent strain like their mainstream counterpart. By conducting a comparative analysis between Asian and mainstream inceldoms, my research hopes to make sense of why that might be.

My summer will be spent following the incel movement on social media forums, Zoom-interviewing experts in the field of terrorism and extremism, and drinking lots of cold brew! I’m so excited to see where this research will take me.

Q: Another amazing development in your academic career was your acceptance to Oxford’s study abroad program. Can you tell me a bit about the opportunity, why you applied, and what you anticipate for the fall?

A: The Oxford study abroad program is an opportunity for Georgetown juniors to spend an entire year at the University of Oxford. The selection process is a bit different from other study abroad programs in that it requires applicants to receive a university nomination from Georgetown before they can apply to Oxford; this means that applicants start preparing in early September!

Oxford didn’t really enter my mind until the beginning of my sophomore year. Since I’m an international student, I was always a bit hesitant to go abroad (or, as my dad jokes, go “abroad-abroad”). However, while researching possible study abroad destinations, I was immediately drawn to the University of Oxford. Not only is the campus absolutely gorgeous (always a plus if you’re going to be anywhere other than the Hilltop), but it also affords students the opportunity to engage in the famous Oxford tutorial system. The one-on-one tutorial system was definitely a big push factor because I wanted to explore a more intimate learning experience than ones usually offered in American universities. And, as someone who used to be a classical singer, I was also intrigued by the possibility of joining (or at least attending live performances of) Oxford’s famous choirs.

Due to the current pandemic, my study abroad plans are a bit up in the air; that being said, if I am allowed to go to Oxford, I plan on studying violent ethnopolitical conflicts and their influence on post-conflict democratic processes. In particular, I hope to investigate ideological and philosophical thoughts around ethnicity and how they contribute to violent state disintegration and formation. Going to Oxford this fall seems a bit unrealistic at the moment given the COVID-19 situation, but I’m hoping that I will get to take classes with my tutors online and arrive on campus during the second term.

Q: How has the CJC informed your time at Georgetown?

A: I’ve been very fortunate to call this incredibly community my on-campus family since my first semester on the Hilltop. It’s where I go almost every day to chat with my friends, check in with my favorite professors, or discuss cover letters and career opportunities with its stellar staff. The CJC has introduced me to some of my favorite classes, amazing academic mentors (in both professors and students), and an unbeatable support system. I’ve also found that CJC people are the first I turn to for advice, encouragement, and celebration, whatever the occasion may be.

Q: What are some of your professional goals for the future? What do you look forward during your next few years at Georgetown?

A: Looking forward to the next few years on the Hilltop, I hope to continue my studies in violent ethnopolitical conflicts and extremism. I’ve also been planning to apply for the accelerated degree program for the Security Studies Program, which I believe will help further my academic and professional interests.

Q: What are some other clubs you’re involved in and activities you engage in at Georgetown?

A: I’m currently a regular contributor for the Caravel, a barista at Uncommon Grounds (a branch of Students of Georgetown, Inc.), and a TA for the Map of the Modern World. When I’m not chatting up a storm in the CJC or frantically brewing coffee during UG rush hour, you can find me religiously avoiding the gym or strolling down to Compass Coffee on Wisconsin Avenue.

Yebin Won (SFS '22) in Ukraine with the CJC's Holocaust Forensics Class (2018).
Yebin Won (SFS ’22) in Ukraine with the CJC’s Holocaust Forensics Class (2019).