Nazarian Center Hosts First Israel Studies Conference Held on West Coast
The event featured Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami as the keynote speaker.
Published: Tuesday, July 09, 2013
There was wide participation from the UCLA and greater Los Angeles community, especially students, who came to hear the latest research on Israel.
The UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies hosted the 29th annual conference of the Association for Israel Studies (AIS), June 24–26, 2013 on the UCLA campus. This premier gathering of Israel Studies scholars alternates annually between the U.S., Canada and Israel; this was the first time it has taken place on the west coast.
The AIS conference is the primary forum where innovative new research about Israel—its society, politics, culture and history—is presented, analyzed and debated by scholars from around the world. Themed “Israel in the International Arena: Scholarship, Imagery, Discourse and Public Policy,” the conference showcased close to 300 faculty and graduate students from around the world, who addressed a wide array of topics.
Many panels brought new insights to familiar topics, such as "Jews and Arabs in Palestine and Israel: Nationalism and Bi-Nationalism" and "Foreign and Domestic Factors in Shaping Israeli Policy." Others delved deep into topics rarely covered in the headlines, from Israeli secularism to feminist movements to journalism and the arts. There was also a panel on China’s views of Israel and the Jewish people presented by visiting Chinese scholars.
One of the most notable points of the conference was certainly the keynote address on the international relations of Zionism and Israel by former Israeli foreign minister and diplomat, Shlomo Ben-Ami. Currently vice-president of the Toledo International Centre for Peace in Spain, Dr. Ben-Ami is renowned for his efforts in the Middle East peace process, particularly at the Camp David and Taba negotiations of 2000 and 2001.
The conference also examined the field of Israel studies and its impact on the discourse about Israel in universities, schools and broader communities. Cutting-edge presentations on the field included “New Arenas of Contention: the Israel Lobby, Birthright, and Israel Studies in the Classroom” and the final plenary session, “Israel Scholarship and Education: Between the Academy and the Community.”
The Y&S Nazarian Center is one the leading institutions in the Israel studies. In just a few years, the Center has become a catalyst for several new Israel studies programs in California, including those at Berkeley, the University of Southern California and the University of California San Diego, which recently launched the U.S.-Israel Center on Innovation and Economic Sustainability at its Rady School of Management.
In addition to the many scholars in attendance, there was wide participation from the UCLA and greater Los Angeles community, especially students, who came to hear the latest research on Israel at the conference from top international faculty and up-and-coming leaders in Israel Studies.
This article was first posted on 5/9/2013 and revised on 7/23/2013.