Invitation I Einladung I הַזמָנָה

Panel Discussion

“Israel at War. Civil Rights, the Role of International Law and the Future of Democracy.”


Panel Discussion
Israel at War: Civil Rights, International Law and the Future of Democracy
in cooperation with the Department of Political Science, University of Vienna,
and with the support of the New Israel Fund, Austria
Date and Time: Thursday, 7 December 2023, 7 p.m.
Place: The Aula on the Campus of the University of Vienna, Hof 1.11, Spitalgasse 2, 1090 Wien
Please register:
Amichai Cohen, Senior Fellow, Israel Democracy Institute, Jerusalem and Ono Academic College
Karen Saar, Director of Resource Development and Outreach, ACRI (Association for Civil Rights in Israel), Jerusalem
Dorit Geva, Professor of Political Science, Central European University, Vienna
Words of Greeting: Drin Eleonore Lappin-Eppel, Chairwoman, New Israel Fund Austria
Moderation: Univ Prof (em.) Dr. Mitchell G. Ash, Professor Emeritus of Modern History, University of Vienna and President, Center for Israel Studies Vienna

The horrific mass murder and hostage-taking of Israelis and other nationals living with them or nearby by Hamas terrorists on 7 October 2023 shocked the world. The bombing of Gaza and the following ground offensive by the Israeli military have been justified by the Israeli government as acts of self-defense intended to eliminate Hamas and thus prevent any recurrence of attacks like the one on 7 October. This policy and the high number of civilian casualties in Gaza have led to international protests and calls for a cease fire, which the Israeli government rejected, although a brief interruption in the fighting was agreed to enable an exchange of a limited number of hostages for prisoners held by Israel. A large majority of the Israeli public, divided only a few months ago by the current government’s attempt to weaken the judiciary, supports the war effort. Protests by the families of those taken hostage calling on the government to assure their immediate return are being heard. Protests by Israeli peace activists, among them Arab members of the Knesset, have been prohibited by the police.

The panel discussion will consider wider implications of the conflict, going beyond the immediate military and humanitarian issues now at stake. Amichai Cohen, an expert in international legal affairs, will take note of alleged violations of international humanitarian law and the law of war by both Hamas and Israel, and will address the role of international law in the conflict. Karen Saar will discuss the question of human rights in a time of war and the present and future work of ACRI in this connection. Dorit Geva will analyze the assault on Israeli and Palestinian women’s rights prior to, and during, the Israel/Gaza war, and will also ask how polarization of the war outside Israel has contributed to the policing of who may speak, and who may be mourned, with worrisome consequences for the future of democracy in Israel.

For a statement by the Israel Studies Center on 10 October in solidarity with the people of Israel against the vicious aggression of Hamas and its allies see:

supported by:   

23 January 2023.  Film screening and Panel Discussion “Game Changers”
Panel discussion with:  Film Director Noam Sobovitz and
the panelists: political scientist and historian Dr. Georg Spitaler, University of Vienna and the Ambassador of Germany to the UN (Vienna), Götz Schmidt-Bremme.
Moderator:  Martin Nesirky, Director of United Nations Information Service (UNIS), Vienna



10 December 2019. Imaging the Unimaginable. The Holocaust in Israeli Visual Culture.

Welcome: Mag. Marianne Windsperger (The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies)

Inspiring lecture by Dr. Anat Gilboa (Director of the German Project at Ben Gurion University/ Israel) at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute, followed by an intellectual discussion elaborating on “Imaging the Unimaginable. The Holocaust in Israeli Visual Culture” Tuesday at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies.
What is the linkage between an iconic photo “The Boy” from the uprising at the Warsaw Ghetto, that has been “prettified” by a rather unknown Israeli artist, between the outstanding dance performance of Ohad Naharin ”Echad mi Yodea”, photos that break taboos and a number of monuments and memorial sites in Israel?
According to Anat Gilboa these are different expressions of Israeli cultural heritage relating to the Holocaust and commemorating the “Unimaginable” as it is perceived in Israel. The crucial question remains: how do we distinguish between visual culture versus visual art?
Dr. Gilboa uses categories to bring clarification: is it memorialisation, commemoration, re-enactment?
It was fascinating to observe a discussion that expanded into spheres such as gender issues (relating to Nir Hod’s painting “Mother”), to the question what is taboo (relating to the photo of three sisters, Holocaust survivors depicting their pain through showing the tattooed numbers of the concentration camp), to the question of my/your/our Holocaust as perceived by Holocaust survivors as well as by the Mizrachi (the Sephardic) community and by the Arab population in Israel. It’s all about the context one could argue and continue an ongoing debate of utmost importance regarding the loss of oral history, the loss of eyewitnesses and the loss of direct interaction.
With this function, the Center for Israel Studies sets off for a number of lectures dealing with the disappearance of vital voices remembering the “Unimaginable” . Many thanks to Mag. Marianne Windsperger and the whole team of the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies as well as the ÖIG for this wonderful cooperation.

Dr. Anat Gilboa is the Academic Director of the German Project at the Ben-Gurion University in Israel. She earned her Ph.D. in Art History from the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Her dissertation, entitled „Images of the Feminine in Rembrandt’s Work” was published in 2003 in Europe and the US.
She was invited by the Center for Jewish Studies in the University of Graz, Austria to be their 2019 Guest Professor. Previously, Dr. Gilboa was invited by the UCLA Nazarian Center for Israel Studies to teach courses on Israel. She also held the Schusterman/AICE Guest Professor for Israel Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where she taught and published an exhibition catalogue, entitled „My Heart is in the East, and I am in the Farthest West“ (2014).
Her expertise is wide-ranging and includes, among others, courses on Israeli visual culture and film; Gender themes in Israeli visual culture; Jewish art; The Bible in art through the ages, as well as the art of the Renaissance and Baroque.