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19.06.2022 | כ סיון התשפב

Association for Israel Studies Annual Conference

The international conference, which is taking place at Bar-Ilan University on June 27-29, includes a wide array of lectures and sessions from a range of disciplines

ארץ ישראל

This week more than 500 scholars from four continents are arriving in Israel to participate in the Association for Israel Studies' (AIS) annual conference, taking place this year at Bar-Ilan University.

The AIS is an international scholarly society devoted to the academic and professional study of Israel. Its annual meeting is taking place on site – rather than online – for the first time in three years. 

Over three full days (June 27-29), the conference will offer more than 90 parallel and plenary sessions in multiple locations on campus focusing on almost every aspect of Israeli society, from architecture and art to modern Haredim and from women, diplomacy and politics to Zionism and Israel in American eyes. Scholars from Yale, Brown, Princeton, Northeastern, Brandeis, Johns Hopkins, McGill, Boston, Ohio State, and Concordia Universities, the London School of Economics and Political Science, Suffolk University, the University of Delaware, University of Notre Dame, University College Dublin and more will deliver lectures, in addition to researchers from many Israeli universities and colleges.

"As is well-known, the academic freedom to run impartial study of Israeli society, history, politics, law, and culture is under threat. Bar-Ilan University, an emerging center of dynamic, diverse, and effervescent academia in central Israel, is proud to bring together international scholars who run cutting-edge study of Israel," says Prof. Hizky Shoham, of Bar-Ilan's Program for Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies. Prof. Shoham is co-chairing the conference with Prof. Lilach Rosenberg, Chair of the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology.

Prof. Shoham will moderate a mini-plenary entitled “Israel and the Diasporas – Towards a Symmetry?” Prof. Rosenberg will chair panels on Teaching Israel and Israeli Teaching and Mothers and Fathers: Old Age in the Yishuv in the 1920s-1950s.

Dr. Itzik Pass, coordinator of the Finkler Institute of Holocaust Research and administrative director of the conference, will focus on "Canaanism", an anti-religious movement that preached against religious coercion in Israel, and was accused of the assassination attempt of the religious transportation minister David-Zvi Pinkas, in protest of regulations he amended to prevent cars from traveling on the Sabbath. Pass will present the radicalization of the movement until it dissolution.

Additional conference highlights:

Prof. Judy Baumel-Schwartz, of the Koschitzky Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry and Director of the Finkler Institue of Holocaust Research, will examine the lives and deaths of women Holocaust survivors who died while on active duty during the first decade of Israeli statehood by analyzing the degree to which their experiences in Israel reflected their background as Holocaust survivors, the ways in which they differed from other young immigrant women of their age in Israeli society, and the extent to which they remained "foreigners", even after spending over a third of their lives in Israel.

Prof. Jonathan Rynhold, Chairman of the Department of Political Studies and Senior Research Associate at Bar-Ilan's Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies, will assess the current state of, and future prospects for, the relationship between the United States and Israel by analyzing the three components that comprise the relationship: shared strategic interests, the resonance of Israel in American political culture and the influence of the pro-Israel lobby.

During national crises and emergencies, many government agencies turn to social media to transmit rapid information about relief services, official guidelines, and news updates. Dr. Gal Yavetz, of the Department of Information Science, will present the findings of his study with Prof. Jenny Bronstein, Chairwoman of the Department, examining how social media was used in five major Israeli cities when more than 4,000 rockets were fired at them during the Guardian of the Walls operation in May 2021.

Long and extensive interactions between backpackers and local people in foreign countries may represent a specific type of public diplomacy called "Backpacking Diplomacy". Prof. Eytan Gilboa, of the School of Communication, will present a case study of the social interactions between young, post-military service Israeli backpackers with the village people of north India’s region of Himachal Pradesh and discuss how Israeli backpacking diplomacy has contributed to create favorable public opinion in India toward Israel, which is essential for supportive official policy.

Prof. Motti Neiger, of the School of Communication, will speak about the use of the term "their collaborators", taken from the phrase "the Nazis and their collaborators, which Israelis use in various contexts on websites and social media regarding diverse issues and topics, many of which have nothing to do with the Holocaust and its commemoration, and how this expression creates polarization and division.

In her lecture on young Haredi men in academia Dr. Tali Farkash, of the Program in Gender Studies, will highlight the tension these men endure between societal, religious and gender-based expectations of engaging exclusively in Torah study and their choice to integrate, expressed by taking on an academic studies track.

As part of her talk on Challenges in Teaching Conflict Resolution in Israeli Multicultural Society, Dr. Revital Hami Ziniman, of the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation, will present a Conflict Reframing Model she has developed which includes seven steps to reframe a conflict to promote collaborative negotiation between intercultural parties.

Dr. Sharon Haleva-Amir, of the School of Communication, will discuss how three prominent Israeli online newspapers cover and frame six gay Knesset Members (MKs) and cabinet ministers.

Dr. Rami Zeedan, of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Kansas, will discuss how voting behavior in Israel is expressed as tribalism and kinship vs. socio-economic considerations.

Prof. Motti Inbari, of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, will focus on current levels of evangelical support for Israel, as well as how this support has changed since the recent conflict in Gaza.

Dr. Sivan Rajuan Shtang, of Brandeis University, will look at artworks by three contemporary Mizrahi women artists who use the platform of fine arts to participate in and respond to an ongoing collective Mizrahi feminist struggle that takes place in today`s public sphere in Israel.

Dr. Roy Horovitz, of the Department of Comparative Literature at Bar-Ilan and Center for Israel Studies at American University, will discuss how two female Holocaust survivors, who are today veteran Israel Prize-winning actors, each made use of a different strategy to address the memory of the Holocaust in Israel. 

The evenings of the conference will feature a keynote address by Israeli academic and former politician Yuli Tamir, a performance by members of Kelim Shluvim, a Bar-Ilan program that uses music to foster communication between music students and autistic kids, at-risk teens, and other marginalized populations under the supervision of the Music Department and in conjunction with AKIM Israel, a national organization for people with intellectual disabilities and their families. In addition, Dr. Roy Horovitz will host a cultural program with Lea Koenig, the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Bar-Ilan University.

For more information about the conference, click here.