Conference of scholars at IU Bloomington to examine connections between anti-Zionism, antisemitism

  • March 24, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Human-rights advocate and former Canadian government official Irwin Cotler will speak April 3 at Indiana University Bloomington during an international conference of scholars convened to address the connections between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.

The conference, “Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism and the Dynamics of Delegitimization,” will take place April 2 to 6 at the Indiana Memorial Union. Hosted by the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at IU Bloomington, it will include over 65 scholars from 15 countries as participants.

While Cotler’s keynote address is open to the public, the conference is for invited participants only.

Alvin Rosenfeld, director of the institute and organizer of the conference, said it responds to a growing concern among scholars about anti-Jewish violence in many parts of the world along with political rhetoric that calls into question the legitimacy of the state of Israel.

“The conference is a major attempt to bring together a community of scholars from around the world to deliberate on these issues,” said Rosenfeld, who holds the Irving Glazer Chair in Jewish Studies and is professor of English at IU Bloomington.

In a letter endorsing the conference and welcoming the visiting scholars, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie praises the work done by the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. He also has praise for Rosenfeld, who this month gave three lectures on antisemitism in Germany, including an invited presentation to the German parliament.

“As participants in this conference, and through the scholarly work in which you are engaged, you, too, are making vital contributions to this important mission,” McRobbie tells the scholars. “Your outstanding scholarship gives us invaluable insights into the motivations, the nature and the manifestations of contemporary antisemitism and its relationship with anti-Zionism.”

The conference also has support from Yuli Yoel Edelstein, speaker of the Israeli Knesset, and from Judea and Ruth Pearl, parents of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered by militants in Pakistan in 2002.

“I honor the presence of this institute at your university and your own forthright voice in unconditionally condemning prejudices of all kind, including antisemitism,” Edelstein writes in a letter to McRobbie. “We at the Knesset itself, and in the country at large, try to combat antisemitism, and it is very important for us to know that we are not alone in this battle.”

Conference sessions will focus on anti-Zionism and antisemitism in Europe, the United Kingdom, the U.S., the Middle East and Asia; on trends in Muslim and Christian antisemitism; on the “boycott, divestment and sanctions” movement against Israel; and on other related topics. The opening reception for conference participants will feature remarks by Tad Stahnke, director of the Initiative on Holocaust Denial and Antisemitism of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Cotler, the keynote speaker, will present a free public lecture on “Global Antisemitism, Demonization and the Laundering of Delegitimization Under Universal Public Values” at 8 p.m. April 3 in Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union. He will be introduced by Lauren Robel, IU Bloomington provost and executive vice president.

Cotler is professor emeritus of law at McGill University in Montreal, where he is director of its Human Rights Program and chair of InterAmicus, an international human rights advocacy center. A longtime member of the Canadian Parliament, he was minister of justice and attorney general of Canada and headed the Canadian delegation to the Stockholm International Forum on the Prevention of Genocide.

Cotler was at the forefront of the international struggle against apartheid. He served as counsel to prisoners of conscience Andrei Sakharov and Natan Sharansky in the former Soviet Union, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Jacobo Timerman in Argentina and Saad Eddin Ibrahim in Egypt. He is founding director of the newly established Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights.

The upcoming conference builds on work done at two previous IU Bloomington conferences of scholars sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism: “Resurgent Antisemitism: Global Perspectives” in April 2011 and “Deciphering the New Antisemitism” in April 2014.

Papers presented at the conference are expected to produce a book that will be published as part of the IU Press Studies in Antisemitism series that Rosenfeld edits.

Sponsors of the conference include IU Press and the IU School of Global and International Studies.

Related Links

Media Contacts

Steve Hinnefeld