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At a campus near you: an Israeli artist-in-residence, here ‘to teach’

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American friends of Israel are working hard to keep that country’s presence felt in positive ways in American universities. From the cutting edge Cornell-Technion campus on Roosevelt Island to numerous “Israel studies” programs on campuses (also in the UK), to this Israeli artists-in-residence program I learned about last week, they are seeking to weave Israel into the tapestry of the American academy, at a time when Israel’s critics are seeking to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Below are excerpts of press release last week promoting the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Israel Institute. Schusterman, a Zionist organization, has helped create Israel Studies departments at schools around the country, reportedly pressured Ruth Messinger and the American Jewish World Service to sponsor a pro-Israel trip, and has sent many congresspeople to Israel too, through the AIPAC arm, the American Israel Education Foundation. From the press release:

Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artist Program kicks off, bringing prominent Israeli artists to teach at top universities across the U.S.

10 prominent Israeli artists to arrive on U.S. campuses this school year for residencies to help bring contemporary Israeli culture to a wider audience

Washington, DC, September 10, 2013 — The 2013-2014 track of the Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artists Program has officially kicked off, bringing 10 Israeli artists for residencies at top universities across the United States. The Program, an initiative of the Israel Institute, a DC-based academic institute aimed to enhance the study of modern Israel, brings Israeli artists—among them filmmakers, choreographers, musicians, writers and visual artists—for residencies at top universities and other cultural organizations in North America.

The idea of the Visiting Artist Program is to foster interaction between the artists and the communities in which they are based, exposing a broader audience to contemporary Israeli culture. The Program was founded in 2008 by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, which is part of the Schusterman Philanthropic Network.

“What makes The Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artist Program unique and so effective is that it allows members of the host community and the visiting artists to connect in a variety of settings—from formal to informal, Jewish to non-Jewish over a significant period of time, rather than the more traditional one-off experience,” says Marge Goldwater, the program’s director. “As we look back on the first five years, we see that the success of the residencies has prompted host institutions to find ways to bring Israeli cultural leaders to their communities after the Schusterman artist has left.”

Since the program began in 2008, there have been 42 residencies at colleges and universities across North America. To date, 47 artists have participated, among them, a recipient of The Israel Prize, Israel’s most prestigious award; an Emmy nominee; numerous recipients of Israel’s highest literary awards; and many winners of multiple Israeli Oscars.

“The Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artists program is the bridge between the Israel Institute’s academic and cultural programing. These visiting artists provide more than just classes that teach skills; these artists provide a window into the heart of Israel,” said Ariel Roth, Executive Director of the Israel Institute. “Cultural education provides insights into the fabric of a society in the way that other courses cannot and the understanding of students enrolled in these classes is deeper and more enriched as a result.”

The artists in this year’s program are:

· Dror Burstein, 43, an award-winning Israeli novelist, who will be in residency at Clark University and the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts this fall semester. Burstein will be teaching a course, Israeli Culture as Reflected in Hebrew Literature since the 1970s, at Clark. In addition, he will also teach a course on Genesis in Art and Literature at Holy Cross.

· Noemi Schory, a renowned Israeli documentary film director and producer, will be in residence at the University of Minnesota this upcoming fall semester. On campus, Schory will be teaching a course, The Holocaust in Film: Recent Israeli and German Documentaries, which will trace the path of documentary representations of the Holocaust. In addition, Schory will also speak at the Jewish Community Centers in the area, at Carleton College, and other public venues.

· Oded Ezer, 41, a critically acclaimed Israeli graphic artist and typographer with an international reputation, will be in residence at the Rhode Island School of Design this fall semester. On campus, Ezer will be teaching a course on typography…

· Gilad Ratman, 38, one of Israel’s leading visual artists and Israel’s representative this year at the Venice Biennale, will be in residence at SUNY Purchase this fall semester. On campus, Ratman will be working with both undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Art and Design, lecturing and offering workshops and critiques, and he will also participate in events at the Neuberger Museum of Art, where his work will be on view.

· Talia Beck, 33, an acclaimed Israeli dancer and choreographer, will be in residence at the University of Kansas this fall semester, where she will be teaching dance and speaking about her own career and the dynamic dance culture in Israel….

· Gabriella Barouch, 28, an award-winning Israeli Illustrator, will be in residence at Lehigh University this fall semester. On campus, Barouch will be teaching two courses – Journal Diary and Illustration and Text.

· Almog Behar, 35, an award-winning Israeli fiction writer and poet, will be in residence at Cornell University and teaching a course, Literature of Jews from the Arab-Islamic World, and hosting a roundtable discussion on contemporary Israeli literature with Israeli writers that will be broadcast at select college campuses, including Cornell.

· David Fisher, 57, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, will be in residency at Yale University this upcoming spring semester. He will be teaching a course on world documentary and working with his students on their senior year films.

· Dan Chyutin, 35, a filmmaker and film historian, will be in residence at American University spring semester. On campus, Chyutin will be teaching a course titled, Israeli Identities through Film.

· Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor, 41, 42 respectively, will be in residence at Rutgers University the spring semester. Sheinfeld and Laor, who have been collaborating together since 2004, combine contemporary dance with performance-art and physical theatre. … At Rutgers they will be offering classes on technique and advanced improvisation and performance.


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13 Responses

  1. K Renner
    K Renner
    September 19, 2013, 8:43 am

    So all of these people are essentially going to go around and spread some warped, “expansionist Zionism is necessary” point of view with the expectation that people will lap it up without question (as well as the implication that the Palestinians and Arabs as a whole are inferior– as portrayed in the Israeli schooling system)?

    I mean, they have artists and novelists and all the rest, but the implication remains the same. And presumably a plurality of American students will lap it all up, for the usual idiotic reasons.

    • amigo
      September 19, 2013, 12:34 pm

      And if Palestinians try to do the same —–whoa there—they will be called terrorists and anti semites.

      Geez, is there no limit to these liars and land thieves and criminal ass—-s.

      Sickening but it shows their desperation.

      • K Renner
        K Renner
        September 20, 2013, 1:35 am

        >> Geez, is there no limit to these liars and land thieves and criminal ass—-s.

        Sickening but it shows their desperation.

        For sure. They are starting to feel the squeeze, especially as it becomes more and more obvious that a majority of Israelis aren’t interested in actual peace with the Palestinians, or in treating them as equal human beings either.

        Their excuse “because the holocaust” is at a new low of effectiveness, I hear– that probably causes them a lot of distress as well.

    • LeaNder
      September 19, 2013, 1:53 pm

      Hilerious: I am interested in investigating very primal and basic situations, ahem, the borderline between humanity and nature is something that I am interested in.

      Chaotic and the idea of audience participation is not really new. But who cares?

      ; and many winners of multiple Israeli Oscars.

      What exactly does that mean?. What are the Israeli Oscars?

  2. marc b.
    marc b.
    September 19, 2013, 9:07 am

    and speaking of public relations:

    Ruth Eglash, the Washington Post’s recently hired Jerusalem correspondent, has what could be a serious conflict of interest – her husband’s political and business ties to the Israeli government and its overseas propaganda apparatus.

    The newspaper, however, refuses to say if Eglash disclosed her husband’s activities to her bosses as company policy demands.

    Her own reporting and activities indicate that Eglash has difficulties providing fair and dispassionate coverage regarding Palestinians.

    Eglash, who joined the Washington Post in April, was previously deputy managing editor of the far right-wing Jerusalem Post.

    Close ties to Israeli government, army and anti-Palestinian propaganda

    Ruth Eglash’s husband, Michael Eglash is president of the marketing firm Upstart Ideas.

    Michael Eglash, who hails from Milwaukee, has been deeply involved in efforts to promote Israel and Israeli government policy for years and this is now his main business.

    His firm lists among its past and present clients and close partners numerous Israeli government and Israeli-government backed entities including the the Ministry of Tourism, Taglit-Birthright Israel and the Jewish National Fund (JNF).

    The JNF is deeply involved in the ongoing forced removals of Palestinian Bedouins from their ancestral lands in the Naqab (Negev) region.

    Eglash’s company provides “marketing analysis, strategic recommendations and full service implementation of marketing campaign and recruitment strategy for a range of Israel programs,” according to its website.

    Upstart Ideas says that it “helped to establish the wildly successful ‘Hasbara Fellowships’ organization and … worked extensively with JNF’s Caravan for Democracy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Hillel.”

  3. September 19, 2013, 10:16 am

    “at a time when Israel’s critics are seeking to delegitimize the Jewish state.” You forgot to add “like me” – should have been “at a time when Israel’s critics LIKE ME are seeking to delegitimize the Jewish state.” Not its government policies, not some of its political parties but the entire state of Israel. With all its 8 mln citizens. I am not sure this has ever been done before. Deligitimizing an existing and internationally recognized state. Quite a feet to try, tovarish Weiss. Even Communist Russia could not do this. Very scary.

    But see I just wanted to check how many anti Israeli programs are to balance this
    Visiting Israeli Artist Program. So I Googled “anti-Israeli program” and I found this
    The anti-Israel sentiment on American university campuses, encouraged by an anti-Israel professorate, stems in large part from the way Middle Eastern studies is taught at the post-graduate level. When graduate students and PhD candidates are trained to teach anti-Israel invective, they ultimately become anti-Israel professors themselves.
    To understand why so many graduate students are trained to teach anti-Israel bias, we need to follow the money.
    A great deal of the grant monies allotted to these professors-in-training come from the federal government through a program known as Title VI.
    While in theory the program would prepare new generations for the challenges ahead in a dangerous region, this is not the case. In practice, Title VI uses federal government funds to subsidize the anti-Israel and anti-America (!!!!) vitriol reported all too often on campus. Take, for example, the Bethesda, Maryland-based Palestinian American Research Center (PARC). This registered nonprofit organization receives Title VI funding, along with monies from the U.S. State Department, for “Palestinian studies.” Unfortunately, the grant recipients rarely, if ever, study the radicalism and violence that dominates Palestinian society. Rather, much of the work produced by PARC funding recipients glorifies Palestinian “resistance” against Israel and vilifies the Jewish state.

    It’s not hard to figure out why this approach is encouraged. Prominent PARC professors include: Columbia University’s Rashid Khalidi, a reported former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) spokesman (see pages 3 and 5 for more on Khalidi); Boston University’s Augustus Norton, an apologist for the Lebanese terrorist group, Hezbollah; Stanford University’s Joel Beinin, who denounced U.S. “imperialism” on al-Jazeera television; New York University’s Zachary Lockman, who backed a proposed academic boycott of Israel; and the University of Pennsylvania’s Ian Lustick, who rails against America for the war on terror, rather than those who spill blood in the name of Islam.

    Under the direction of these and other controversial figures, according to PARC’s tax returns, the organization has raised more than $550,000 since 2002 for graduate students of the Middle East to foster an “appreciation of Palestinian culture and society.” On an individual basis, PARC doles out grants of $3,000 to $8,000 for scholar activism disguised as academia.

    An additional concern is the fact that PARC has received “foreign grants” from a member of the radical London School of Economics Students’ Union (LSESU), a professor of the West Bank’s radical al-Najah University, as well as other funds from Lebanon, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and beyond.

    • talknic
      September 20, 2013, 2:46 am

      @fnlevit “should have been “at a time when Israel’s critics LIKE ME are seeking to delegitimize the Jewish state.”

      And you’re doing a good job of it too. The article you linked is from propagandist Jonathan Schanzer of CAMERA On Campus. CAMERA has been shown time and again to LIE

      Were all that he says true, the recipients would have been charged and gaoled under US law. The fact that they aren’t is testimony to the fact that he writes bullsh*t! People who write bullsh*t do more to delegitimize what they’re trying to protect, a state in breach of hundreds of UNSC resolutions. By being in breach, Israel delegitimizes itself quite adequately.

  4. kamanja
    September 19, 2013, 11:09 am

    Umm… you may be jumping to the wrong conclusions about their political stances. I can’t speak for all of them, but both Behar Almog

    and Dror Burstein (do a search on his name on both these links)

    are known to take positions not dissimilar to yours, Philip Weiss. They’re certainly not the kind of people Im Tirzu would be particularly happy about planting in American universities.

  5. Taxi
    September 19, 2013, 3:02 pm

    “Israeli artist-in-residence”.

    So is that what israeli spies in the US are calling themselves now?

    • Rusty Pipes
      Rusty Pipes
      September 19, 2013, 6:01 pm

      Coming to a campus near you: “9/11 Israeli Art Students, Where are they now?” “The culture and technique of Israeli Mover dancing” and “How to create and market your own ‘shoot and cry’ novel or film”

  6. Citizen
    September 20, 2013, 7:09 am

    The 2013 US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act now has 345 cosponsors in the House: here they are:

  7. Balfour
    September 21, 2013, 6:18 am

    Israeli soldiers pushing European diplomat’s faces in the ground while the international media records the event will quickly destroy any good will the Israeli artists managed to nurture at American universities.

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