In This Issue

  • Latest Updates
  • Member Writings
  • Travel Opportunities to Israel for Faculty
  • Upcoming Initiatives


For more information and updates, please check out our website!

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August 2017 Newsletter

Latest Updates

AEN now has 465 members on 183 campuses across the country. 
AEN Speakers Bureau, 2017-18
AEN is pleased to announce our Speakers Bureau for the 2017-18 academic year. 

Members of the Speakers Bureau are available for individual subsidized visits to campuses through AEN member invitations. Each speaker will receive a $1000 honorarium from AEN for a campus visit. AEN will also help contribute to travel and lodging costs, when appropriate. We expect a program with a visiting speaker to include a public talk and also a participatory session with students and faculty in a class or small group setting. 

These AEN members have been selected for their expertise on BDS and on ways to challenge the BDS narrative; on Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict; on Zionism and anti-Zionism; and on several related subjects. One new emphasis this year, in keeping with a grant from the Natan Fund through its “Confronting Antisemitism” initiative, is consideration of rising antisemitism on campus and in society.

A full list of Speakers Bureau members, as well as their biographies and proposed topics, can be viewed here. If you are interested in hosting a speaker, please apply using this application form.

AEN Microgrants Program
AEN micro-grants are now available to AEN members in amounts of up to $4,000 for the 2017-18 academic year. Initiatives may be aimed at confronting BDS and its claims about Israel, educating about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, affirming academic freedom and free expression on campus, exploring relevant aspects of Israeli society, culture, and diversity, and combating antisemitism. If you are interested in applying for an AEN micro-grant, please fill out the application on our website.

AEN Seminar on the First Amendment and Academic Freedom
AEN staff participated in a 2-day seminar on the First Amendment and academic freedom led by AEN Advisory Board chair Mark Yudof. This was a shortened and adapted version of a course Yudof taught earlier this summer at Hebrew University.

AEN Members at the American Sociological Association Meeting
On August 14, during the American Sociological Association's Annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada, AEN member Arnold Dashefsky convened an informal meeting on the sociology of antisemitism. AEN member Chad Alan Goldberg was the lead discussant, speaking on the topic, "Anti-Semitism and the Jews in Modern Western Social Thought."

Lin Batsheva Kahn to Receive Excellence in Teaching Award
AEN would like to congratulate AEN member Lin Batsheva Kahn, a professor of dance at DePaul University's Theatre School, who will receive the university's highest teaching honor, an Excellence in Teaching Award, for her work in 2016-17. The award recognizes her teaching philosophy, her collaborations with DePaul's School of Music, and her impact on DePaul's cultural life, including the event "Celebrating Women and Multiculturalism through the Universal Language of Dance," which featured professional dance artists Miriam Engel and Sergey Shamota from Jerusalem. Photo credit: DePaul University.

Member Writings 

In Commentary, Jonathan Marks highlighted the importance of celebrating the BDS movement's many defeats, while remaining cognizant of its pernicious impacts - "... yes, we should never underestimate the BDS movement. But every now and then, it’s all right to spike the football." In a separate article, Marks called out faculty who were willing to believe anti-Zionist conspiracy theories.

In the Washington Post, Todd Gitlin provided historical perspective on threats to free speech on campus, which in past decades often came from traditional, conservative elements. "Rejecting free speech only undercuts the left. And from a liberal point of view, there’s an irony that goes largely unnoticed. The intense hatred of racial “microaggressions” is flourishing on campuses just as state and national Republican officials are zealously practicing macroaggressions..."

In Algemeiner, Miriam Elman described how textbooks in some US public schools contain pro-Palestinian propaganda, often without context or opposing information. "How many people are aware that pushing vehemently anti-Israel and pro-Islamist materials into K-12 educational programming is now the BDS movement’s new frontier?"

During the New York Times' Higher Ed Leaders Forum, Larry Summers defended the importance of free speech on campus. "There’s a safe space with respect to hearing ideas you don’t like. It’s your parents’ house. It is not any place on a college campus...The obligation to maintain order and give every speaker a chance to be heard should be respected. And when those norms of civility are violated, there should be consequences for those who violate them.”

We know that our members have lots to say and share about developments in the US, Israel, and around the world. If you are writing, speaking, blogging, or tweeting, please let us know! 

Travel Opportunities to Israel for Faculty

There are multiple opportunities for faculty members to go on educational trips to Israel:

Academic Exchange organizes missions to Israel to deepen faculty members' understanding of the country and region. It also hosts multiple conferences every year on relevant topics.

The Faculty Engagement Program of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of New York sponsors a study tour of Israel focused on the role of academics in community relations and peace building. The next study tour will be in January 2017.

The Israel Action Network (IAN) arranges faculty trips to Israel, with a focus on conflict resolution. Please contact the IAN for more information:

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) organizes a Faculty Fellowship Program in Israel, focused on research, exchange, and collaboration. The Winter program is currently accepting applications - the deadline to apply is September 12.
AEN member Gary Grossman, Professor of Animal Ecology at the University of Georgia, recently went on JNF's summer program. He developed a movie and spoke to AEN Senior Communications Associate Raeefa Shams about his experience:

What inspired you to go on the JNF Faculty Fellowship this summer?
I had never been to Israel, so that played a major role. It just looked like a wonderful trip, culturally and academically.

What were some of the most memorable aspects of the program?
One of the most memorable was talking to a Holocaust survivor that Joseph Mengele had operated on. Just to listen to someone like that, who still had a positive outlook on life; seeing the Kotel and Old Jerusalem; meeting with academics who were working with Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, Druze, Bedouin, and getting a sense of the inclusivity of Israeli academia; just seeing the whole country from the Upper Galilee, to the Negev; the vibrancy of the culture; the fact that for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like the “other,” by virtue of being in a Jewish country. Nonetheless, you didn’t have to look far under the surface to see some of the challenges of Israeli society, particularly those between Jewish and Arab Israelis.
To whom would you recommend the fellowship?
Anyone who is interested in the region, particularly those without a lot of personal experience or connections there. Anyone interested in contemporary international politics would also benefit – we met with members of Knesset as well as a Palestinian journalist. Also, those interested in conducting research and collaborating with Israeli researchers.
What are your plans for following up on your experience?
I’ve been talking to people at the Arava Environmental Insitute about doing some teaching there – I particularly like their emphasis on working with Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians. I’m also exploring an opportunity to do some short-term teaching at Tel Hai College in the Upper Galilee. Finally I’m exploring possibilities for collaborative research with professors at Tel Hai College and Tel Aviv University.

Upcoming Initiatives

We will soon be sending out a survey asking all members to measure their engagement with AEN, assess our programs and publications, and make recommendations for future work. We encourage you to fill this out, so we have the information necessary to better meet your needs and interests.

Please stay tuned for more information from AEN as the fall semester begins. This will include our Guide and Resource Book for Faculty, as well as a schedule of upcoming convenings, educational opportunities, and other events and programs.
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