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Author: Kantor Center


Center Concludes Its Academic Year with Gil Hovav’s Inspiring Lecture


Center Concludes Its Academic Year with Gil Hovav’s Inspiring Lecture

The Center concluded its activities for this academic year and its International Identity Seminar with a real treat – an inspiring, humorous and instructive lecture delivered by Gil Hovav, great grandson of the reviver of the Hebrew Language, Eliezer Ben Yehuda. Hovav, an author and television personality, shared the personal family stories that are behind one of the greatest cultural achievements of the modern era.

The Identity Seminar, which began in May, engaged students with the “big questions” Israeli society faces through field trips and discussions. Among other destinations, the students visited the Sea of Galilee and Gan Hashlosha, Kibbutz Lohamei Ha-Getaot and the Beit Shean National Park.

The program was attended by 25 international students from diverse disciplines and countries, including India, Peru, South Sudan, Italy, Poland, Britain, Ethiopia, Mexico, South Korea, the United States, Argentina, Kenya, Slovakia, Canada, China, Germany and Guatemala. Mauricio Robles Cortes, a Security and Diplomacy Master’s student from Mexico, said that the trips and discussions were a “great experience” that enabled him and others to gain a “broader perspective of Israel which cannot be understood without knowing the historical places we visited.”

Another student, Uwar Mathew Donato from South Sudan, noted that the seminar trips provided him the opportunity to learn more about Jewish history and about the different voices that define Jewish identity in modern times.  

A view of Gan HaShlosha
Tour of Beit Shean National Park

Center Concludes Pioneering So The World May Know Seminar


Center Concludes Pioneering So The World May Know Seminar


On August 3, the Center concluded its pioneering So the World May Know Seminar with a group of Tel Aviv University international students from across the globe, including Ecuador, India, Ethiopia, Mexico, Germany, Kenya, and Argentina. The two-month Seminar, serving as a pilot for a broader program currently under development, explored central topics related to the Holocaust and antisemitism, and provided participants with practical tools to organize and give workshops in their home countries on the means to fight antisemitism and racism at large.

Reflecting on his experience, Mateo Maya, a Security and Diplomacy Master’s student from Ecuador, said that the lectures he attended provided “a unique experience to understand in a more detailed way some aspects of Jewish history, the Holocaust, and testimonies of Holocaust survivors.” Similarly, Anusha Datta, a documentary filmmaker from India pursuing her master’s degree in film at TAU, said the seminar was “an enriching experience that was successful in condensing an expansive scope of history in a format that made it accessible to international students.”

As several other participants, Mateo and Anusha have already begun working on the workshops they intend to give this fall to university students, educators and officials in their home countries.

Jewish Sports Clubs in Germany Before and After the Holocaust


Jewish Sports Clubs in Germany Before and After the Holocaust

Over the course of the academic year, Dr. Yoval Rubovitch, the recipient of our 2022 research grant, has worked on a project on Jewish sports clubs before and after the Holocaust.

Dr. Rubovitch’s work highlights, among other things, similarities and differences between the current German-Jewish sports association “Makkabi Deutschland” and its predecessor “Deutscher Makkabikreis,” which existed before the Holocaust.  

Before the Second World War, Makkabi took upon itself the role of granting Jewish youth a refuge from antisemitism through sports, giving them a sense of Jewish nationhood, a Zionist education, preparing them for emigration to Palestine/land of Israel, and ultimately, the saving of thousands of Jewish lives by helping to organize this emigration through cooperation with other Jewish movements. 

Today, Makkabi Deutschland is open to all, Jews and non-Jews alike. The more universalistic approach reflects the vastly different circumstances of German Jews today compared to the 1920s and 1930s, and differentiates it from its predecessor.

However, as in the past, antisemitism remains a threat in Germany, which affects the association’s aims and objectives. Fighting antisemitism is a core part of the association and distinguishes it from other clubs and associations. It seeks to fight antisemitism in Germany – first, by identifying the reasons it exists in German society, particularly among football and sports clubs, and second, by combatting it through education and sports activities.

In addition, Zionism and Zionist ideology still play a major role in Makkabi Deutschland’s identity. The association actively cultivates connections to the state of Israel but, in contrast to the old Deutscher Makkabikreis, does not actively try to convince and prepare young Jews to make Aliyah.

An End to Antisemitism!


An End to Antisemitism!

An End to Antisemitism! is a five-volume series published by De Gruyter that brings together more than one-hundred internationally renowned experts to address different aspects of the problem of antisemitism. The studies published in the collection resulted from an international conference held in Vienna, Austria, in 2018 that was organized by the University of Vienna, New York University, Tel Aviv University, and the European Jewish Congress. Prof. Dina Porat, the Center’s Founding Head, served as co-editor of the volumes together with Armin Lange, Kerstin Mayerhofer, and Lawrence H. Schiffman.

The first volume, Comprehending and Confronting Antisemitism: A Multi-Faceted Approach, offers a comprehensive overview on the history of and discourse about antisemitism. The second volume, Confronting Antisemitism from the Perspectives of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, engages with antisemitic stereotypes as religious symbols that express and transmit a belief system of Jew-hatred. Volume three, Comprehending Antisemitism through the Ages: A Historical Perspective, deals with the long history of antisemitism, while volume four, Confronting Antisemitism from Perspectives of Philosophy and Social Sciences, addresses the role of antisemitism in philosophy, pedagogy and social sciences. Lastly, the fifth volume, Confronting Antisemitism in Modern Media, the Legal and Political Worlds, explores manifestations of antisemitism in the media, legal and political worlds.

The volumes are Open Access and available for download as PDF files on the De Gruyter website here. Printed copies can also be purchased from De Gruyter at the same link.

Pioneering Identity Field Workshop Launched


On May 1, the Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University launched its pioneering Identity Workshop, in which international students explore Israeli and Jewish histories and realities through field trips across the country.

The program is attended by 25 international students from diverse academic disciplines and countries, including India, Peru, South Sudan, Italy, Poland, Britain, Ethiopia, Mexico, South Korea, the United States, Argentina, Kenya, Slovakia, Canada, Germany, and Guatemala.

The first field trip included a guided visit to the Ghetto Fighters Museum in Northern Israel followed by a discussion of the socio-historical roots of Nazi barbarism; a meeting with the Christian-Aramean community in Gush Halav, in which its quest for recognition was debated; and a visit to the Sea of Galilee. More exciting and informative field trips and discussions will follow.

Participants at the Ghetto Fighters Museum
Hearing about Adolf Eichmann at the Ghetto Fighters Museum
Hearing about the Christian-Aramean community in Gush Halav
View of the Sea of Galilee
Participants at the Ghetto Fighters Museum discussing the Righteous Among the Nations

In the News: Antisemitism Worldwide Report


On Wednesday, April 27, 2022, the Center released its annual report on the state of antisemitism worldwide. The publication of the report has been widely covered in the international and Israeli press. Below are links to some of the coverage the report has received in English, Hebrew, and other languages.

English

Prof. Uriya Shavit on BBC Radio

Hebrew

Prof. Dina Porat on the Knesset television channel

Other

Channel 13 News Update (Israel)
Discussion on Antisemitism Worldwide report on Israel’s Kan network

Cyprus Top-Officials Attend Center’s First-of-its-Kind Seminar on Antisemitism


Cyprus Top-Officials Attend Center’s First-of-its-Kind Seminar on Antisemitism

On March 15-16, our Center led a seminar and training for 25 high-ranking Cypriot law enforcers and other top Cypriot public officials in Nicosia. The seminar, which gained wide coverage in the local media, was initiated and organized by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Embassy of Israel in Cyprus, together with the Cypriot Ministry for Justice and Public Order.

Prof. Uriya Shavit, Head of the Center, gave lectures on the history of Zionism and the reasons for the current-day proliferation of destructive conspiracy theories. Dr. Dina Porat, Founding Head of the Center, spoke about the history of antisemitism and the legal means of fighting it. Dr. Carl Yonker, Researcher and Media Director at the Center, discussed the Dark Web and antisemitism in the American and European far-right and far-left movements.

In the opening ceremony, Cyprus Minister of Justice, Stephie Dracos, emphasized racism and discrimination must be dealt with immediately and effectively. Stylianos Papatheodorou, Cyprus Police Chief, spoke on the importance of the seminar in raising awareness about the Holocaust among members of the police and relevant ministries and institutions in Cyprus. Israel’s Ambassador to Cyprus, Oren Anolik, noted that learning about the historical roots of antisemitism helps understand its manifestations today.

Prof. Shavit noted the recent public statement of the leading researches of the Center, who condemned the war crimes committed under the directives of Vladimir Putin, as well as Putin’s cynical distortion of the Holocaust.

The participants in this first-of-its-kind seminar expressed their deep appreciation for the opportunity to gain knowledge and tools to help them in their jobs as frontline law enforcers. Maria Efren from the Operations Office Nicosia stated that the seminar provided her with practical knowledge on identifying antisemitism, as well as techniques and tools for investigating online antisemitism. Michalis Angelides, the Safety and Security Officer of the Cyprus Football Association, expressed how important the seminar was to him in providing practical tools to apply in his current role.

At the end of the seminar, participants were awarded a certificate of participation by Themistos Arnaoutis, Chief Superintendent Director of the Cyprus Police Academy, and Noga Caspi, Deputy Head of Mission of the Israel Embassy in Nicosia.

Prof. Shavit thanked the Cyprus Police for their exceptional hospitality and keen interest. He congratulated the Israeli embassy in Cyprus on the superb organization of the seminar, and Ruth Cohen Dar, Director of the Foreign Office Department for Combating Antisemitism and for Holocaust Remembrance, for her dedicated efforts and pioneering initiative.  

Prof. Uriya Shavit presents Themistos Arnaoutis, Chief Superintendent Director of the Cyprus Police Academy, with a gift
Israel’s Ambassador to Cyprus, Oren Anolik, makes opening remarks
Cypriot law enforcers and officials during one of the seminar sessions
Noga Caspi, Deputy Head of Mission of the Israel Embassy in Nicosia, presents one of the seminar participants with a certificate

Statement on Russian War Crimes and Holocaust Distortion


We condemn Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the cowardly war crimes committed under the directives of Vladimir Putin.

The fascist-styled aggression stands against some of the most important moral lessons humanity should have learned from the Nazi period, including the sanctity of human life and the sovereignty of democratic, peaceful nations. Putin has the blood of thousands of victims, including children, on his hands. His policies pose an existential threat to world democracy, peace, and security.

To add insult to injury, in claiming that present-day Ukraine, with its Jewish president, is Nazi, Putin has trivialized the memory of the Holocaust. He entirely discredited his past commitments to fight antisemitism and placed himself among a notorious group of Holocaust distorters.

As a minority in all countries but Israel, Jews learned that fascist regimes often pose the gravest threats to their existence, and democracy is the best guarantee for their wellbeing. 

As students of history, we know there is time for nuance and time for clarity. So let us be clear in standing up unequivocally against Putin’s war crimes, oppression, and threats. 

Prof. Uriya Shavit, Head

Prof. Dina Porat, Founding Head

Dr. Giovanni Quer, Project Manager

Dr. Carl Yonker, Researcher, Media Director

Call for Applications – Identity Seminar


The Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University welcomes applications for its annual Identity Seminar. The Identity Seminar comprises three one-day study trips that will explore core historical, social, and cultural issues through visits to some of Israel’s most beautiful and interesting sites and meetings and discussions at those sites with leading scholars and public figures.

Among the issues addressed in the seminar: the tension between utopia and normalcy in Zionist thought; Biblical archeology; the role of the Holocaust in shaping contemporary Israeli society; Israel-Diaspora relations; the Christian communities of Israel; and the identity challenges of Arab-Israelis.

Along with lectures and discussions, the three study trips will include visits to Kibbutz Lohamei HaGetaot, the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee and Gan Hashlosha, the communities of the Ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem and the Black Hebrew Israelites in Dimona, and several exciting archeological and religious sites.

The day-trips will take place on Sundays from 09:00 to 20:00. The scheduled dates for the seminar are May 1, May 29, and June 12.

Applications are open to TAU international students with public leadership potential at all levels, of all faiths, and of all nationalities.

Lectures, discussions, and instruction will be in English.

Participants will be awarded a letter of documentation. Participation is free of charge.

Applications (including a short CV and contact details) should be sent to Dr. Giovanni Quer, the Kantor Center’s Project Manager, by March 11, 2022: giovanniquer@tauex.tau.ac.il

The Center will accept up to 14 applicants.

Former Polish President Visits Center Amidst Crisis in Europe


On February 22, the Center hosted a distinguished delegation from the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center (BYHMC) led by the Hon. Aleksander Kwaśniewski, the former President of Poland (1995-2005) and member of the BYHMC’s Supervisory Board. The visit took place amid rising tensions in Ukraine, just hours before Russia began its military operations.   

During the meeting, President Kwaśniewski spoke about the importance of commemorating the untold and forgotten story of the Holocaust in Ukraine and Babyn Yar as a symbol of what is known as the “Holocaust by Bullets.” President Kwaśniewski stressed that the projects at Babyn Yar are key to fighting antisemitism and racism while honoring the memory of the victims. 

President Kwaśniewski expressed his hope to promote cooperation between the BYHMC and the Center.

The BYHMC’s Artistic Director Ilya Khrzhanovsky also discussed his important role in designing an immersive experience that takes visitors on an emotional and historically fact-based journey to commemorate and honor the victims of the Holocaust’s largest single-mass-shooting and the largest mass grave in Europe.

The discussion ended with a conversation on current events in Ukraine. President Kwaśniewski noted that the world finds itself in a dreamlike situation and in different times, and noted that Russian President Vladmir Putin was using dangerous rhetoric that declares that Ukraine is neither a state nor a nation. The President stressed the importance of limited terms in democracy, noting that long periods in power project negatively on leaders’ conduct and self-perception.

The Head of the Center, Prof. Uriya Shavit, said: “We are honored to host such a distinguished delegation, led by a European icon of democracy and tolerance, a man for whom the lessons of the past are a constant moral obligation.”

New Book: Contemporary Jewish Communities


This week, De Gruyter published Prof. Lilach Lev Ari’s new book, Contemporary Jewish Communities in Three European Cities: Challenges of Integration, Acculturation and Ethnic Identity. The Center was proud to support Prof. Lev Ari’s research that resulted in the publication of this new monograph, which expands and builds upon a report she authored for the Center in 2019. Contemporary Jewish identity, integration and acculturation in Europe has become an increasingly relevant topic amid rising incidents of antisemitism in Europe but reliable research on the present state of Jewish identity in Europe is scarce. In Contemporary Jewish Communities, Prof. Lev Ari, the dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and a lecturer at Oranim College, examines three ethnically diverse communities – Paris, Brussels, and Antwerp – to shed light on the identity and acculturation of the Jewish minority in Europe.

To purchase a copy of book the book, visit De Gruyter or Amazon.

In the News: For a Righteous Cause


On Thursday, January 27, 2022, the Center presented its inaugural report on encouraging legal, political, and cultural developments in the fight against antisemitism to the President of Israel, Isaac Herzog at a ceremony held at his official residence in Jerusalem. The publication and presentation of the report, titled For A Righteous Cause: Positive Trends in Fighting Antisemitism and Radicalization around the World, has been widely covered in the press in Israel and abroad. Below are links to some of coverage the report has received in English, Hebrew, and Swedish.

English

Hebrew

French

Swedish

Prof. Dina Porat on Arutz Sheva discussing the report

Center Presents Inaugural Positive Trends in Fighting Antisemitism Report to the President of Israel


On a snowy Thursday in Jerusalem, a delegation from the Center, led by Prof. Uriya Shavit, the Head of the Center, presented its inaugural report on encouraging legal, political, and cultural developments in the fight against antisemitism to the President of Israel, Isaac Herzog. President Herzog was presented the report, titled For A Righteous Cause: Positive Trends in Fighting Antisemitism and Radicalization around the World, at a special ceremony held at his official Jerusalem residence on International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27), the day on which the Auschwitz death camp was liberated in 1945.

The report is the product of a six-month team effort by eight academic experts at Tel Aviv University from various fields and addresses positive developments in a number of different areas. The contributors include: Dr. Inna Shtasker, who wrote on the restoration of Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe; Dr. Ofir Winter and Dr. Giovanni Quer, who wrote on encouraging developments in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain; Prof. Dina Porat, who wrote on political and legislative developments in Europe and North America; Dr. Tomer Fadlon, who wrote on the efforts of sports organizations and clubs to combat antisemitism; and Adv. Talia Naamat, who wrote on legal developments in Europe and the United States.

In his opening remarks, Prof. Shavit addressed the impetus behind the report and the purpose in highlighting encouraging legal, political, and cultural developments in the fight against antisemitism. Noting that discourse on antisemitism typically focuses on troubling negative trends, Prof. Shavit stated, “[The Center] decided that a positive report, describing encouraging developments and activities, should also be published – for three reasons:  expressing appreciation for those already active; impelling more governments and organizations worldwide to initiate similar activities; and promoting a discussion on concrete proposals for improving existing programs.”

Adv. Arie Zuckerman, the Chairman of the Center’s Board, spoke after Prof. Shavit and noted the rise in antisemitic incidents in the last several years, much of it fueled by conspiracy theories connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. This, in turn, has led to a growing sense of insecurity among Jewish communities across Europe and around the world. Nevertheless, as the Center’s new report shows, positive steps have been taken in the past year to fight against the rise in antisemitism. These efforts should be commended and others should be encouraged to follow their example.

Two of report’s contributors, Prof. Dina Porat, the Center’s Founding Head, and Dr. Tomer Fadlon, spoke briefly about their respective articles, highlighting political and legislative developments and developments in the world of sports in fighting antisemitism and radicalization. In addition, Dr. Carl Yonker, the Center’s Media Director, commented on the recent hostage crisis at the Colleyville synagogue in Texas and the need to encourage local Christian communities to more proactively engage with local Jewish communities to provide better support and create a sense of security.

In his closing remarks, President Herzog expressed his appreciation for the report and observed that while the crisis of global antisemitism is intensifying, so, too, are international efforts to fight against it. Indeed, stated President Herzog, “We are witnessing many initiatives for combating antisemitism around the world, and we must encourage and foster these positive trends. Strengthening the light is just as important as fighting darkness. I thank the Center for its dedicated research and faithful work in monitoring antisemitism worldwide.”

President Herzog also added, “I wish you much luck and I want to thank Tel Aviv University and the Center within it. I am an alumnus of the University, a friend of the University, and I think it’s a very worthy place. [The Center] is one of the most important Centers in Israeli academia and at TAU specifically.”

For a Righteous Cause – Annual Positive Report 2022 (Footnotes)

For a Righteous Cause – Annual Positive Report 2022 (without Footnotes)

Maccabi, Now and Then


The Center is pleased to announce that Dr. Yoval Rubovitch is the recipient of our 2022 research grant. Over the course of the year, Dr. Rubovitch will conduct a research project on the connections, similarities, and continuities between Jewish sports clubs before and after the Holocaust, focusing primarily on the Maccabi clubs in Leipzig and Frankfurt. As part of his research, he will interview members of the Leipzig and Frankfurt clubs and the Maccabi sports association in Germany, and will also examine the current literature on this topic.

Dr. Rubovtich has a prolific research and publications record. He completed his doctoral studies at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in 2019. His dissertation examined the debate on Zionism between Karl Kautsky and Eduard Bernstein, two of Germany’s leading theoreticians on social democracy. His book Marxismus, Revisionismus, Zionismus: Eduard Bernstein, Karl Kautsky und die Frage der jüdischen Nationalität (“Marxism, Revisionism, Zionism: Eduard Bernstein, Karl Kautsky and the Question of Jewish Nationality”) was published in August 2021 by Hentrich & Hentrich, a publishing house in Leipzig. He has also authored a biography of Bernstein (2019) and a book about the “Bar Kochba Leipzig” Jewish sports club (2020), both of which were published by the same publisher.

Honoring the Battle against Antisemitism


The Center is pleased to share the following news:

Prof. Dina Porat named Ramat Hasharon’s Honorary Citizen for 2021

Next year, the city of Ramat Hasharon will celebrate its 100th anniversary, commemorating its establishment in 1922 as Ir Shalom (City of Peace) on lands purchased from several Arab landowners. Originally a small moshav (an agricultural settlement), Ramat Hasharon became a city in 2002 with a population of over 50,000. Every year, the city council nominates four candidates as honorary citizens, from which the mayor selects a single honoree. This year, the Ramat Hasharon selected Prof. Dina Porat, the Founding Head of the Center, as the city’s honorary citizen in acknowledgment of all her contributions to fighting antisemitism and to the community she and her family have lived since 1976.