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




28 November 2022. Dr Einat Wilf „„The Elections in Israel: Is the Collapse of the Left Parties Punishment for Their Conciliatory Attitude Toward Palestinian Illusions? Is This Also a Problem for the West in General? “

Words of Welcome and Moderation: Univ. Prof (em.) Dr Mitchell Ash, President of the Center for Israel Studies Vienna


The recent elections in Israel are likely to produce the most right-wing government in the country’s history. Commentators on this outcome have written that one reason for the left parties‘ disastrous performance is that voters no longer think that a two-state solution has any chance of success and have therefore punished liberal and left parties for continuing to maintain what the right calls a conciliatory attitude toward the Palestinians. Einat Wilf sees a connection between this analysis and her own view that the West in general, by indulging Palestinian illusions, has stood in the way of peace.


Einat Wilf studied at Harvard University (B.A.) and at Insead (MBA), and received her PhD in Political Science from Wolfson College, University of Cambridge in 2008 with a study of the World Jewish Congress‘ campaign against the Swiss Banks. She served in the Knesset (Avoda, Labour) from 2010 and co-founded the party Ha’Atzma’ut in 2011, which however did not enter the Knesset elections in 2013. She is now an author and political consultant. Among her numerous publications are:
My Israel, Our Generation (2007)
Winning the War of Words: Essays on Zionism and Israel (2015)

Telling Our Story: Essays on Zionism, the Middle East, and the Path to Peace (2018)


Her most recent book (with Adi Schwartz) has just appeared in German translation:Der Kampf um Rückkehr. Wie die westliche Nachsicht für den palästinensischen Traum den Frieden behindert hat (2022). 


25 October 2022. Univ-Prof Dr Amos Morris-Reich „Helmar Lerski’s ‘Jewish and Arab Types’ Project: Political and Aesthetic Perspectives“

This talk addresses the “failed” project of arguably the most prominent art photographer working
in British Mandate Palestine:the 1930s “Jewish and Arab Types” project by German-born Swiss American Jewish art photographer Helmar Lerski. Lerski’s project involves at least two significant
political contexts. The first is racial photography within science, art, and popular culture, and the
second is Zionism. The talk will pay special attention to Lerski’s photographic method and to its
relationship to the aesthetic and political question of “light” in 1930s Palestine. The talk will attempt
to develop the argument that, in opposition to most recent (especially American) historiography,
aesthetic rather than political categories can better explain Lerski’s motivations, method, and the
grounds of “failure”.

Words of Greeting: Univ Prof Dr RaphaelRosenberg,  Department of Art History
Moderation: Univ Prof (em.)  Dr Mitchell G. Ash, President of the Center for Israel Studies Vienna

Amos Morris-Reich is The Geza Roth Chair of Modern Jewish History, the Director of The Stephen
Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, and a Professor at The Cohn
Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University.
His book Photography and Jewish History: Five Twentieth Century Cases has just appeared in October 2022 with Penn University Press. His previous book is Race and Photography: Racial Photography as Scientific Evidence, 1876 – 1980 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016)


27 June 2022. Lecture with Univ Prof (em.) Dr Dan Diner

„Kontingenz. Das jüdische Palästina und der Zweite Weltkrieg“

“The lecture deals with a core part of the Jewish-Palestinian understanding during the Second World War: namely, the threat of the Yishuv by the German-Italian troops advancing under the command of Rommel approaching Egypt in the summer of 1942. In doing so, in this case, it is essential to describe the situation of the area of the British Mandate in general in the context of WWII. In terms of historical theory, the lecture deals with the empirical object, telos, and contingency and is underlining the question of historical amnesia.
In cooperation with the University of Vienna, Department of Contemporary History
Venue: University of Vienna, Sky Loung

Welcome: Univ Prof DDr Oliver Rathkolb
Moderator: Univ Prof (em.) Dr Mitchell Ash

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Photos: ComebackFilms

24 January 2022. Film Screening International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. “Box for Life” by Uri Borreda

In cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations (Vienna), with the French Embassy in Austria and the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna
“Box For Life”
With opening remarks by
Ambassador Mordechai Denis Paul Rodgold, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations (Vienna) and Ambassador Gilles Pécout, French Embassy in Austria
Panel discussion with
Uri Borreda – Director of the film  ‘Box For Life‘
Iris Lifshitz Klieger – Journalist
Shlomo Balsam – Instructor, Yad Vashem
Martin Nesirky – Director UNIS, Vienna
Film synopsis:
This is the story of a boy who smuggled Jewish children from Belgium to Switzerland. He was captured by the Germans and was sent to the Auschwitz death camp. When he arrived at the camp, he claimed himself as a boxer which saved his life. In this documentary, Noah Klieger returns for the first time to the places that marked his life as a French Jewish teenager, before immigrating to Israel as a crewmember on board the famous boat „Exodus – 1947”. Noah Klieger, who passed away in 2018, was an example of courage, optimism and resilience.

Welcome: Ambassador Mordechai Denis Rodgold, Ambassador of the State of Israel
Moderator: Martin Nesirky, UNIS



25 November 2021. Web Forum with Prof Dr Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder

„The challenges of diversity in Israeli higher educational institutes“
Abstract: The lecture will address the challenges of diversity in Israeli universities from the perspectives of minority groups. It will present the gaps and obstacles that minority students face, such as: economic, social, and political within the academic Israeli context. Through two case studies of Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel and Ethiopian Jews, I will discuss the implications of diversity policies practiced in this sphere.
In cooperation with the Vienna School of International Studies (Diplomatic Academy).

Welcome: Univ Prof (em.) Dr Mitchell Ash
Moderator: Dr Eleonore Lappin-Eppel

28 October 2021. Web Forum with Dr. Anat Gilboa „The Legacy of Helmar Lerski”

„The Legacy of Helmar Lerski“ “Faces” was the title of an outstanding exhibition of photography at the beginning of the year at the Albertina in Vienna. The artworks of Helmar Lerski (1871-1956), a path breaking avant-gardist in modern photography at the beginning of the 20th century, formed the main part of this exhibition. Lerski’s extraordinarily innovative attitude towards photography of human images as well as his connection to Mandatory Palestine brought a stunning artist to broader public notice. His life as a Zionist and pioneer of modern photography has been illustrated from an interdisciplinary angle.

Welcome and Moderator: Univ Prof (em.) Dr Mitchell Ash

31 May 2021. Web Forum with Prof Dr Itamar Rabinovich
Virtual Book Launch „Syrian Requiem“

Leaving almost half a million dead and displacing an estimated twelve million people, the Syrian Civil War is a humanitarian catastrophe of unimaginable scale. Syrian Requiem analyzes the causes and course of this bitter conflict—from its first spark in a peaceful Arab Spring protest to the tenuous victory of the Asad dictatorship—and traces how the fighting has reduced Syria to a crisis-ridden vassal state with little prospect of political reform, national reconciliation, or economic reconstruction.
In cooperation with the Vienna School of International Studies (Diplomatic Academy) and our supporter University of Vienna, Department of Contemporary History.

Welcome: Amb. Dr Emil Brix, Director of the Vienna School of International Studies
Moderator: Univ Prof (em.) Dr Mitchell Ash, President, Center for Israel Studies Vienna

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12 April 2021. Web Forum with Univ Prof (em.) Dr ltzhak Galnoor

“Arab Citizens in the Jewish State of Israel”

Israel’s Declaration of Independence proclaims full equality for all Israel’s citizens and calls upon members of the Arab nation “to participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.” This solemn pledge has not been kept. Nevertheless, the growing pluralism of the political system has strengthened the foothold of Arabs in Israeli society and politics. The situation of the Arab community in Israel is still dire. The tenuous relationship between Jews and Arabs is under constant pressures, exacerbated by the 2018 Basic Law: Israel – The nation-state of the Jewish people, that undermines the status and legitimacy of the Arab citizens. Nonetheless, a change began to surface tacitly in the official state approach towards the Arabs – recognizing the justification of equality, particularly in economic terms. Politically, the last Knesset elections have increased Arab parties‘ visibility and potential strength.
In cooperation with the Diplomatic Academy and the University of Vienna, Department of Contemporary History

Welcome: Amb. Dr Emil Brix, Director of the Vienna School of International Studies
Moderator: Univ Prof (em.) Dr Mitchell Ash, President Center for Israel Studies Vienna

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