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MSU Jewish Studies Program to host its largest conference

Michigan State University’s Jewish Studies Program is sponsoring its largest academic conference, “Israel at 70: Complexity, Challenge and Creativity,” to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel and reflect on its history. The conference will take place Sept. 16-17 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.

“The MSU Jewish Studies Program is expanding its focus on Israel studies and is thrilled to host its largest conference yet to commemorate Israel at 70,” said Yael Aronoff, director of the Jewish Studies Program. “Nine of our own faculty are participating, along with two of our Israeli visiting scholars and 30 other scholars from Israel and the United States.” 

The speakers, 40 in total, will discuss Israeli society, culture, politics and foreign policy, as well as agricultural, biomedical, water, environmental and business innovation.

Scholars and researchers are coming from universities including Johns Hopkins University, Smith College, Syracuse University, University of Illinois, University of Notre Dame, University of Wisconsin and Washington University.

Keynote Speakers: 

  • Gilead Sher, head of the Center for Applied Negotiations and a senior researcher at the Tel Aviv Institute for National Security Studies. Sher was chief of staff and policy coordinator to former prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak. From  1999 to 2001, he served as the Israeli chief and co-chief negotiator at the Camp David peace summit and the Taba peace talks. He has written several books and co-chairs the NGO Blue White Future.
  • Oded Shoyseyov, an expert in nanobiotechnology, has authored or co-authored more than 160 scientific publications and is the inventor or co-inventor of 45 patents.

Other Speakers:

  • Naomi Chazan, professor emerita of political science at Hebrew University, has served three terms as a member of the Knesset on behalf of the Meretz Party. Chazan has also authored eight books on comparative politics, served as president of the New Israel Fund from  2009 to 2012 and is among the founders of the International Women’s Commission for an Israel-Palestinian Peace.
  • Sayed Kashua is a leading Palestinian Israeli novelist, screenwriter, journalist and public commentator.
  • Saliba Sarsar, political scientist and poet, is the associate vice president of Monmouth College, on the board of directors of the American Task Force on Palestine, edited “Palestine and the Quest for Peace” and co-edited “Principles and Pragmatism: Key Documents from the American Task Force on Palestine” among other publications.
  • Donna Robinson Divine, the Morningstar Family Professor of Jewish studies and professor of government emerita at Smith College, who has written several books and is currently serving as president of the Association for Israel Studies.

“We are proud to have co-sponsorships from seven different colleges at MSU and welcome faculty, students and community members to attend,” Aronoff said.

The conference is open and free to the public. Registration for panel discussions closes on Sept. 17. Donations will be accepted until Oct. 31.

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