Spring 2024 CJS series to feature lectures on “In The Shadow of October 7”

The Spring 2024 College of Jewish Studies Series will explore the causes, character and effects of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. On Thursday, April 4, at 7:30 pm, political theorist Joshua Muravchik will address the question “Is Anti-Zionism More Dangerous than Anti-Semitism Today?” during a Zoom lecture. On Thursday, April 11, at 7:30 pm, Israeli journalist and historian Gershom Gorenberg will speak on “Israel and the War in Gaza: What Went Wrong and What Must Go Right” during a Zoom lecture. On Thursday, April 18, members of Binghamton University’s Judaic Studies Department and Israel Studies Institute will host a live in-person discussion with audience members at 7:30 pm at the Jewish Community Center, 500 Clubhouse Rd., Vestal. They will address questions and comments on all aspects of the tragedy and its aftermath. There will be an $8 charge for the in-person event. 

Those wishing to attend one or both of the Zoom lectures can pre-register via the College of Jewish Studies Facebook page or the homepage of the Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton. An e-mail with the “CJS Spring 24 Series” in the subject line may also be sent to jkarp@binghamton.edu.

CJS chairman and Judaic Studies Professor Jonathan Karp said, “I felt the October 7 attacks had to be confronted directly. It is too soon to take the full measure of the event and its aftermath. But because it is so horrific and momentous, we have an obligation even now to try to understand its various meanings. We will have two extraordinary scholars to help us – one from the center right, the other from the center left. They will give us valuable, yet distinctive, perspectives. Then we will draw on the expertise that we have right here at Binghamton University, through our Judaic and Israel studies scholars, to put the talks in perspective while addressing some of the still unanswered questions. This final event will be more of a community conversation than an academic presentation.” 

Joshua Muravchik is the author of “Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel,” as well as 10 other books and more than 400 articles about politics and international relations. He has been a scholar or fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, the American Enterprise Institute, the George W. Bush Institute and the Washington Institute on Near East Policy. He teaches at the Institute of World Politics in Washington DC.

Muravchik describes his topic by noting that “when Jews see Israelis subjected to murder and rape at home and calumnies abroad, they are bound to see antisemitism at work. But Arabs often say that they can’t be ‘antisemites’ because they are Semites, while advocates of ‘social justice’ scoff at the idea that they might be bigoted. Indeed, a fair number of them are Jews. In this era, when Western publics have been sensitized to the issue of racism, Jews often feel that antisemitism is the critical issue. But is it? The goal of Hamas and Iran and the entire ‘axis of resistance’ is the elimination of Israel.” When assessing this threat, Muravchik will ask whether it matters if their actions and statements are motivated by hostility to Jews per se or to Israel (not precisely the same thing). He suggests that if people want to truly understand and combat this threat, the distinction matters a great deal.

Gorenberg is an Israeli journalist and the author, most recently, of “War of Shadows: Codebreakers, Spies and the Secret Struggle to Drive the Nazis from the Middle East.” Gorenberg previously wrote three critically acclaimed books on Israel’s history and politics: “The Unmaking of Israel,” “The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977” and “The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount.” He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Review of Books and, in Hebrew, for Haaretz and Maariv. He lives in Jerusalem, except during stints teaching a workshop on writing history at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

Gorenberg will provide an overview of the steps and missteps that led to the October 7 atrocities and Israel’s military response. Among other key questions he will ask is why Israel was taken by surprise, how Israeli society has changed as a result and why the war must lead to a new push for peace.

CJS provides opportunities for adult Jewish education for the Broome County community by offering fall and spring programs. Drawing on local resources and inviting scholars and experts from a range of universities and cultural and religious institutions, CJS sponsors a wide array of programs dealing with Jewish history, culture, religion and politics.

Founded in 1986, CJS is an informal coalition between the Judaic Studies Department of Binghamton University and several area Jewish sponsoring institutions: the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton, Beth David Synagogue, Temple Concord and Temple Israel. Programming for CJS would not be possible without the additional financial support of a grant from The Community Foundation for South Central New York – David and Virginia Eisenberg Donor Advised Fund, the Jacob and Rose Olum Foundation, the B’nai B’rith Lectureship Fund, the Victor and Esther Rozen Foundation, an endowment fund from the former Temple Beth El of Endicott, a grant from the JoyVel Charitable Fund and the donations of individual sponsors.

Anyone who would like to become an individual sponsor or make a donation so that the CJS can continue bringing quality programs to the community should e-mail bingcjs@gmail.com. The College of Jewish Studies is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.