Vision and Visionaries:
Imaging Israel at Sixty
April 6, 2008
The Schusterman Center for Israel Studies
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Jehuda Reinharz, President, Brandeis University
An Old-New Meta-Narrative: Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State Ruth Gavison, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Translating Israel to America Hillel Halkin, Author and journalist, Israel
Imagining Israel in the Region and the World David Makovsky, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Israel at Sixty: From Utopia to Reality? Shlomo Avineri, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
About the Speakers
Shlomo Avineri is a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and he served as director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the first government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He has held visiting appointments at universities across the United States and Europe and has been a fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In 1996 he received the Israel Prize, the country’s highest civilian decoration. A prolific author, he recently published an intellectual biography of Theodor Herzl (in Hebrew).
Ruth Gavisison is the Haim H. Cohn Professor of Human Rights in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the president of Metzilah: a Center for Zionist, Jewish, Liberal, and Humanist Thought. Gavison served as a founding member and president of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. She has held visiting appointments at the Yale University and University of Southern California law schools and was a fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values. Gavison won the Avi Chai Prize (with R. Yaacov Medan) for the Gavison–Medan New Covenant on State and Religion Issues among Jews in Israel; the Jerusalem Toleration Prize; and the Emet prize for law and political science. Her most recent work is an essay titled “Where There Is No Vision, the People Will Cast Off Restraint: A Meta-Purpose for Israel and Its Implications” (2007).
Hilllel Halkin, a translator, journalist, and author, has rendered more than fifty works of fiction, poetry, and drama from Hebrew and Yiddish into English, including works by S. Y. Agnon, Sholem Aleichem, Amos Oz, and Shulamit Hareven. He served as the Israel correspondent for the New York weekly Forward from 1993 through 1996, and he has written for Commentary and the New Republic. Halkin was also the weekly book reviewer for the Jerusalem Report from 1990 to 1993 and now serves as a regular columnist and contributing editor of the New York Sun. He received a National Jewish Book Award for his first book, Letters to an American Jewish Friend: A Zionist Polemic (1976). In 2002, Halkin received the Lucy Dawidowicz History Prize for Beyond the Sabbath River. Currently, he is translating novels by Agnon and the Soviet Yiddish author Moyshe Kulbak, and he is writing a book on Yehuda Halevi for the Schocken Books/Nextbook Series.
David Makovsky is a senior fellow and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Since 2000, he has served as an adjunct professor of Middle East studies at Johns Hopkins University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies and has published several monographs and numerous articles in leading American newspapers on Arab–Israeli relations. Makovsky has appeared on the PBS show The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, among other shows, and he also served as a contributing editor and special correspondent at U.S. News & World Report. He is collaborating with coauthor Dennis Ross on a book about the Middle East.
Jehuda Reinharz is the Richard Koret Professor of Modern Jewish History and, since 1994, president of Brandeis University. He is the author of some one hundred articles and twenty books on European Jewish history and the history of Zionism and the State of Israel. His most recent publications include A Fearless Visionary in the Land of Israel: The Letters of Manya Shohat, 1906–1960, coedited with Shulamit Reinharz and Motti Golani (2005); Glorious, Accursed Europe, coauthored with Yaacov Shavit (2006); and Israel in the Middle East: Documents and Readings on Society, Politics, and Foreign Relations, Pre-1948 to the Present, coedited with Itamar Rabinovich (2007).
Lynn Schuststerman is chair of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Schusterman Foundation–Israel, organizations dedicated to spreading the joy of Jewish living, giving, and learning, as well as to the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect in Oklahoma and in Israel. She also chairs the Center for Leadership Initiatives, which develops Jewish professional and volunteer leadership at nonprofit organizations. Her support for higher education includes gifts to the University of Oklahoma, the University of Texas, and Brandeis University. In 2007 Schusterman received an honorary doctorate from Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, and she was recently presented the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service. She currently serves in leadership roles at B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, Birthright Israel Foundation, Hillel, Israel Museum, and Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal.
Harold Shapiro is president emeritus and professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University. He came to Princeton from the University of Michigan, where he served on the faculty as professor of economics and public policy and as president. He is an elected member of the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine and the American Philosophical Society, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Shapiro is a trustee of the American Jewish Committee and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Along with William G. Bowen, he edited Universities and Their Leadership (1998). His latest book, A Larger Sense of Purpose: Higher Education and Society (2005), is based on the 2003 Clark Kerr lectures.
S. Ilan Troen is the Karl, Harry, and Helen Stoll Chair in Israel Studies and director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. Previously, he served as director of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute and Archives in Sede Boker, Israel. He is the founding editor of Israel Studies, an international journal sponsored by Brandeis University and Ben-Gurion University. Troen has authored or edited numerous books in American, Jewish, and Israeli history, including, most recently, Imagining Zion: Dreams, Designs, and Realities in a Century of Jewish Settlement, and, with Jacob Lassner, Jews and Muslims in the Arab World: Haunted by Pasts Real and Imagined.
The Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, founded in 2007, is dedicated to promoting exemplary teaching and scholarship in Israeli history, politics, culture, and society at Brandeis University and beyond. The Center is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the modern State of Israel by training a new generation of scholars and teachers, building a vibrant academic community, and supporting research, publications, and conferences. It seeks to make Brandeis a hub for nurturing and catalyzing Israel Studies.