The Global Forum of the National Library of Israel

Gathered together under one roof, every two years prominent thinkers, scholars and leaders from Israel and abroad deliberate on contemporary issues, in light of the intellectual treasures preserved among the National Library of Israel's collections.

The topic of the last Forum was the Fate of Secularism – the relationship between the religious and the secular as they're reflected in the central aspects of our lives – the state, society, the individual, morality, human creativity, and philosophy.

29-30.11.2016
Jerusalem - Givat Ram

Highlights

The 5th conference Symposium is a success.

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Highlights from the 2016 Forum

Day 1, 29.11

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Prof. Karen Barkey, Prof. Noah Feldman, Prof. Mati Steinberg, and Prof. Shibley Telhami discussed "Religion and Secularism in the Tumultuous Middle East." The scholars discussed how the ethnic and religious battles raging in the Middle East will impact the future of the region.

Mr. Osvaldo Golijov, Ms. Agi Mishol, Ms. Nicole Krauss, and Rabbi Haim Sabato deliberated on "The Fate of Secularism – Literary and Cultural Creation," focusing on the different ways religion and secularism affect art and modern culture.

סיכום פורום 2016

Day 2, 30.11

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What are the roles of religion and secularism in political revolution? Prof. Michael Walzer presented his findings. Prof. Eva Illouz, Prof. Kesavan Veluthat, and Mr. Leon Wieseltier responded and presented their thoughts in a panel entitled: "Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions."

Does religion fuel bloodshed, or can it also serve to reduce the flames of violence? Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks wrestled with this question, extremely relevant to the current reality in the Middle East, in a keynote lecture entitled: "Violence in the Name of God – No Exit?"

   
   

The Forum's Theme: The Fate of Secularism

The Sacred and the Profane: Confrontation, Collaboration, and Mutual Influence

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Many platitudes about modernity are being challenged in our time. Foremost among them is the belief, which prevailed for centuries, that the path to modernization – to knowledge and development – requires a decline of religion as a dominant force in our lives.

The frontiers between the secular and the religious are less clearly demarcated, and the relationships between the sacred and the profane are more complex. The focus of the deliberations at the Second Gathering of the Global Forum will be the relationship between the religious and the secular as reflected in all the significant realms of our lives: the state, society, the individual, morality, philosophy and human creativity. These issues will be examined in their global manifestations as well as in their Jewish and Israeli contexts. 

http://nli-forum-2016.webflow.io/

Open Sessions

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Numerous public figures, authors, and scholars will participate in the discussions and deliberations of this year's Forum. 

What are the roles of religion and secularism in political revolution? Prof. Michael Walzer will present his findings. Prof. Eva Illouz, Prof. Kesavan Veluthat, and Mr. Leon Wieseltier will respond and present their thoughts in a panel entitled: "Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions."

Does religion fuel bloodshed, or can it also serve to reduce the flames of violence? Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks will wrestle with this question, extremely relevant to the current reality in the Middle East, in a keynote lecture entitled: "Violence in the Name of God – No Exit?"

Prof. Karen Barkey, Prof. Noah Feldman, Prof. Mati Steinberg, and Prof. Shibley Telhami will discuss "Religion and Secularism in the Tumultuous Middle East." The scholars will discuss how the ethnic and religious battles raging in the Middle East will impact the future of the region.

Mr. Osvaldo Golijov, Ms. Agi Mishol, Ms. Nicole Krauss, and Rabbi Haim Sabato will deliberate on "The Fate of Secularism – Literary and Cultural Creation," focusing on the different ways religion and secularism affect art and modern culture.

The Global Forum of the National Library of Israel

Robot and Human Interactive Communication.

The Forum includes approximately 80 prominent Israeli and international leaders from different fields including academia, the arts, and the public sphere, who have been invited by the National Library of Israel to take part in the Global Forum’s bi-annual gathering.

Professor Moshe Halbertal and Mr. Leon Wieseltier serve as co-chairmen of the Forum.

Mr. Shimon Peres, z"l, the Ninth President of Israel, served as honorary chairman of the Forum.

Some discussions will be open to the public; others will be attended only by Forum members and National Library of Israel staff.

All sessions will be broadcast live on the National Library of Israel website and Facebook page.

Future gatherings of the Global Forum will be held in the National Library's new complex in Jerusalem.

Until completion of the new National Library facility, Forum gatherings will take place in the current National Library of Israel building and other venues throughout Jerusalem.

Forum Program

The Fate of Secularism

The Sacred and the Profane: Confrontation, Collaboration, and Mutual Influence

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  • 08:30
    Gathering and Registration

    Mount Zion Hotel, 08:30

  • 09:00
    Opening Session
    Mount Zion Hotel, 09:00-10:15
    Chair: Dr. Raquel Ukeles
    Welcome and opening remarks: Mr. David Blumberg, Prof. Moshe Halbertal
    Introductory keynote speech – Prof. José Casanova, "The Sacred and the Profane:
                      Confrontation, Collaboration, and Mutual Influence"
                      Respondent: Dr. Yochi Fischer
  • 10:30
    The Fate of Secularism – The Moral-Philosophical Dimension
    Mount Zion Hotel, 10:30-12:00

    In contradiction to the argument that secularism and religion are two distinct philosophical and ethical frameworks, some argue that the boundaries between them are not so distinct and that cooperation and mutual influence between the two worldviews is significant. Regarding issues relating to justice, authority, truth, science, the meaning of human existence, the definition of human nature, and the reform of society, when might we expect conflict and when might we expect cooperation? Do religious and secular lifestyles give rise to differentiated moral sensitivities? In a society that includes both the sacred and the profane, is an ethical consensus possible?

    Chair: Prof. Avishai Margalit
    Speakers: Prof. Meir Buzaglo, Prof. Jonathan Lear, Prof. Tamar Ross
  • 12:00
    Lunch Break

    Mount Zion Hotel, 12:00-13:00

  • 13:30
    Jerusalem and the Overlappings of the Sacred
    Mishkenot Sha'ananim Conference Center, 13:30-15:00

    Jerusalem is home to the holy sites which rouse the emotions of the three major monotheistic faiths. The sites inspire hope and they inspire anger. They inspire the believers to aim high and to aim low. What is the significance of the three faiths being inextricably linked to one another and to the ancient stones of one city?

    Speakers: Ms. Emuna Elon, Prof. Sari Nusseibeh, Mr. Amos Oz
  • 15:15
    Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions
    Open to the public, Mishkenot Shaananim, 15:15-17:00

    Why have secular revolutions been succeeded by religious counter-revolutions? Are national liberation movements predicated on secular values, or can political emancipation also take place in the name of religion? Why are liberals and secularists so regularly disappointed by the morning after the overthrow of dictators? Is democratization possible in a public square dominated by religion? Professor Michael Walzer will present the conclusions of his study of these questions, as they have been illustrated by the recent experiences of India, Algeria and Israel. Respondents will discuss the roles of the sacred and the secular in creating and sustaining open societies.

    Chair: Prof. Leora Batnitzky
    Keynote address: Prof. Michael Walzer
    Speakers/Respondents: Prof. Eva Illouz, Prof. Kesavan Veluthat, Mr. Leon
                       Wieseltier
  • 17:15
    Violence in the Name of God – No Exit?
    Open to the public, Mishkenot Shaananim, 17:15-18:00

    Human history is replete with violence committed in the name of God. Religious wars and divinely sanctioned bloodshed have been presented as positive commandments and defended with religious arguments. And yet every great religion also calls for peace. What is the origin of religious violence and how should it be understood in our time? Can religion, commonly seen as part of the problem, also be part of the solution?

    Chair: Prof. Rachel Elior
    Keynote address: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
  • 18:30
    Reception & Dinner
    The National Library of Israel - Givat Ram, 18:30
  • 20:30
    A Different World Than We Knew?
    The National Library of Israel - Givat Ram, 20:30-21:15

    The complex relations between the religious and the secular are taking place within a world which is dynamic, unpredictable and full of uncertainties.

    The triumph of Trump, Brexit, the rise of the right in Europe.

    The threat posed to liberal and democratic values, the phenomenon of ISIS and Islamic extremism.

    Do these all reflect profound global trends defining a world different than that which we knew?

    Chair: Moshe Halbertal
    Speakers: Mustafa Akyol, Dominique Moisi and Leon Wieseltier
  • 09:00
    The Fate of Secularism – The Political Dimension
    Mount Zion Hotel, 09:00-10:30

    Webster's Dictionary defines secularism as "the belief that religion should not play a role in government, education, or other public parts of society". But political realities do not easily respond to sharp distinctions and dichotomies. Indeed, political life is flooded with reflections of the complex relationships between secular and religious: the relationship between religion and nationalism, and between religion and democracy; the encounter between religion and sovereignty; the struggle over the identity of the public sphere; the tension between religious and secular codes of law; and more. What are the main manifestations of the relationship between secular and religious in the political context? Is it possible to ascertain the direction of significant trends in this field which will affect the character of the state in the future?

    Chair: Prof. Dominique Moisi
    Speakers: Mr. Mustafa Akyol, Prof. Ruth Gavison, Prof. Mark Lilla
  • 11:20
    President of Israel's remarks: Mr. Reuven "Ruvi" Rivlin

    Mount Zion Hotel, 11:20-11:50

  • 12:00
    The Fate of Secularism – The Social Dimension
    Mount Zion Hotel, 12:00-13:30

    Throughout human history religion has played a significant role in the formulation of communities and societies, providing meaning and a distinct identity for their members and outlining modes of life which distinguish one polity from another. How do confrontation, mutual influence, and cooperation between secular and religious affect the character of a society, in its communal structures, institutions, leadership, processes of consolidation and polarization, community, family, attitudes of the individual toward society, the status of women? What are the significant trends that will affect the future character of various societies?

    Chair: Prof. Fania Oz Salzberger
    Speakers: Prof. Shmuel Feiner, Prof. Haviva Pedaya, Prof. Diana Pinto
  • 13:30
    Lunch Break

    Mount Zion Hotel, 13:30-14:15

  • 14:15
    Tour

    New National Library of Israel Building Site, 14:15-15:00

  • 15:00
    Dilemmas of Accessibility in a Multicultural Society
    Working groups will be held simultaneously over lunch
    Mount Zion Hotel, 15:00-16:30

    The National Library of Israel is currently in the midst of a comprehensive process of renewal that aims to open up the cultural treasures among its holdings.  This exercise in re-definition raises a number of questions for a leading research institution that also promises access to its collections to the wider public.  The new National Library's activities include exhibitions, teaching curricula, conferences, events, and more. The challenges inherent in planning these activities and implementing these ideals broach difficult questions about identities and priorities. What is a national library in a multiethnic society? Whose library is it, and how? The dilemmas of accessibility are very complex in a multicultural society in which segments of the population are differentiated by ethnicity and language, as well as by diverse perspectives regarding nationalism, religion, ideologies, and values. Audiences coming from different backgrounds (including the Jewish Diaspora) have different and sometimes contradictory expectations of such an institution. The working group discussions are designed to provide insights which will assist the National Library in formulating a road map for handling these delicate ethical and cultural issues.

    Working group Chairpersons:  Prof. Nili Cohen, Adv. Ali Haider, Prof. Menahem Magidor, Prof. Jonathan Sarna, Rabbi Yuval Cherlow
  • 16:30
    Religion and Secularism in the Tumultuous Middle East
    Open to the public, The National Library of Israel -- Givat Ram, 16:30-18:00

    The Middle East is turbulent and divided. Conflicts have become increasingly sectarian along both ethnic and religious lines. Whether or not these divisions are themselves causes of conflict that have historical roots or simply outcomes of weak and collapsing states remains a subject of debate. What is clear is that in the twenty-first century, these intense hostilities threaten the potential for peace in the Middle East and throughout the world. How much of a role does religious factionalism play in the Middle East? What is the role of secular forces and movements that struggled for a different Middle East throughout much of the 20th century? Are conflicts in the name of religion necessarily more difficult to address? Is intra-religious and inter-religious reconciliation a prerequisite for achieving stability and political arrangements?

    Chair: Ambassador Prof. Daniel Kurtzer
    Speakers: Prof. Karen Barkey, Prof. Noah Feldman, Prof. Emmanuel Sivan, Prof. Shibley Telhami
  • 18:15
    The Fate of Secularism – Literary and Cultural Creation, Closing session
    Open to the public, The National Library of Israel – Givat Ram, 18:15-19:45

    Religion has inspired vast and diverse forms of artistic and spiritual expression, beginning with the Scriptures themselves. At the same time, great artists have been suppressed, magnificent works have been censored, and the legitimacy of other cultures has been rejected in the name of religion. How have confrontation, convergence, and cooperation between secularism and religion affected cultural creation? What is secular about modernism in art and culture, and what is religious? How do religious concepts challenge contemporary works of literature and music?

    Chair: Mr. Assaf Inbari
    Speakers:  Mr. Ozvaldo Golijov, Ms. Agi Mishol , Ms. Nicole Krauss, Rabbi Haim Sabato
                       Concluding remarks: Mr. David Blumberg, Mr. Leon Wieseltier

Members

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Faizal Azaiza
Speaker

Faisal Azaiza is a professor at the University of Haifa where he heads the School of Social Work, specializing in Jewish-Arab relations and the welfare, education and health of minority populations. He is also a member of the board of the International Association of Schools of Social Work IASSW. Among his many public positions, he is chair of the Committee for Promoting Accessibility of Higher Education for the Arab Population, having previously served as head of the Haifa University’s Jewish-Arab Center and mayor of the municipality of Daburiyya. He has been extremely active in the establishment and management of welfare projects in the Arab sector and also founded Sikkuy, the Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality.

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Mustafa Akyol
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Mustafa Akyol is a Turkish writer and journalist. He is the author of "Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty". He is a contributing opinion writer for the International New York Times.

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René Braginsky
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Born in 1949, Mr. Braginsky has more than 40 years of experience in banking. He currently runs his own boutique finance office in Zurich. Together with his wife he founded the René and Susanne Braginsky-Foundation 28 years ago, which supports social and cultural projects in Switzerland and Israel. As a past president of Keren Hayesod Switzerland and Yakir award winner, he also headed the Swiss Society of Friends of the Weizmann Institute of Science for many years and was awarded an honorary degree from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2012. He is also known for his fine collection of old Hebrew manuscripts and illuminated books, the most exquisite of which were showcased in Amsterdam, Berlin, Jerusalem, New York and Zurich.

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Meir Buzaglo
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Meir Buzaglo is a lecturer in the department of philosophy and director of the Institute for Innovation in Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The areas he researches include the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of physics, the philosophy of language and the philosophy of Judaism.

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Leora Batnitzky
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Dorit Beinisch
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Menahem Ben-Sasson
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Menahem Ben-Sasson is currently serving his second term as the president of the Hebrew University. A professor of the history of the Jewish people, he was previously rector and deputy dean of humanities. He was, in addition, a member of the Knesset for the Kadima party (2006-2009). He has also served on the board of directors at Yad Vashem, and as president of the World Union of Jewish Studies, vice-president of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and chair of the Ben-Zvi Institute. His honors include an honorary doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary, as well as the Yitzhak Ben-Zvi Prize for Jewish History and the Feher Prize for the Study of Jewish Heritage (1997). He is the author of numerous publications in the field of medieval Jewish history in Muslim lands.

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Karen Barkey
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Prof. Karen Barkey teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on religion, religious legitimacy and toleration in the context of the Ottoman Empire and Islam. She co-edited "Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites", which explores the history of shared religious spaces in the Balkans, Anatolia and Palestine/Israel, regions once under Ottoman rule.

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Yuval Cherlow
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Rabbi Cherlow is a Zionist-Orthodox rabbi. He founded and serves as the head of the Amit Orot Shaul Yeshiva. Rabbi Cherlow was also among the founders of the Tzohar organization, which seeks to build bridges between the secular and religious worlds. He is an expert on ethics, and a member of various ethics committees in Israel, such as the Supreme Helsinki Committee on Medical and Genetic Experiments Involving Human Subjects, and serves on the presidency of the Israel Press Council. In addition, Rabbi Cherlow serves as the head of the Ethics and Religion Desk at the Jerusalem Center for Ethics. Rabbi Cherlow has authored many books and articles dealing with public morality, and reviving the Torah in contemporary life. He is known for his responses to questions of Jewish law on the popular Israeli Internet sites "Moreshet" and "Kippa"

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Nissim Calderon
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Nissim Calderon is a professor of Hebrew literature at Ben Gurion University where he specializes in contemporary Hebrew literature, Israeli multiculturalism, and the connection between Hebrew poetry and popular music. He received his Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University in 1980. He is an active participant in many cultural activities and regularly publishes essays and book reviews. He has, in addition, authored numerous books, receiving the Bahat Prize for Multiculturalism versus Pluralism in Israel (2000). He is presently working on a biography of Meir Ariel.

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José Casanova
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José Casanova is one of the world's top scholars in the sociology of religion. He is a professor at the Department of Sociology at Georgetown University, and heads the Berkley Center's Program on Globalization, Religion and the Secular. He has published works in a broad range of subjects, including religion and globalization, migration and religious pluralism, transnational religions, and sociological theory. His best-known work, Public Religions in the Modern World (1994), has become a modern classic in the field and has been translated into five languages, including Arabic and Indonesian. In 2012, Casanova was awarded the Theology Prize from the Salzburger Hochschulwochen in recognition of life-long achievement in the field of theology.

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Yair Cohen
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Former commander of Unit 8200, the central military intelligence and cyber unit of the Israeli Defense Forces, Yair Cohen is the head of the intelligence and cyber solutions division at Elbit Systems Ltd, an international defense electronics company. He previously served as vice president of the leading technology holding company Elron Electronic Industries Ltd. and of Clal Energy, and sat on the boards of several companies in both the Elron and IDB Groups. He also served as chair of the board of ECtel Ltd. He spoke at the 2013 Israeli Presidential Conference on the subject of the characteristics of the future battlefield, “Tomorrow’s Wars – No Longer Science Fiction.”

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Nili Cohen
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Eliaz Cohen
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Arnold Eisen
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Arnold Eisen, one of the world’s foremost authorities on American Judaism, is the chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). He previously served at the universities of Stanford, Tel Aviv and Columbia, having received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University. Since his appointment in 2007, he has made significant changes in the education of professional and lay leaders for Conservative Judaism and enhanced JTS’s reputation and global reach. He has expanded the digitization of JTS’s resources, directing the launch of Learn, JTS’s online learning site, and many additional JTS websites. His many publications include Taking Hold of Torah: Jewish Commitment and Community in America (1997) and the award winning Rethinking Modern Judaism: Ritual, Commandment, Community (1998).

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Rachel Elior
Speaker

Rachel Elior is the John and Golda Cohen Professor of Jewish Philosophy at the Hebrew University, specializing in the history of Jewish mysticism. As well as serving twice as chair of the Department of Jewish Thought, where she has been a member of faculty since 1978, she is also a senior research fellow at the Van Leer Institute. She has held visiting appointments at many prestigious universities, including Princeton University, Tokyo University and University of Chicago. Among her many awards, she is the 2006 recipient of the Gershom Scholem Prize for Research in Kabbalah from the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. She is the author of numerous publications, her most recent book being Israel Ba’al Shem Tov and His Contemporaries: Kabbalists, Sabbatians, Hasidim and Mitnaggedim (2014).

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Noah Feldman
Speaker

Prof. Noah Feldman is Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He specializes in constitutional studies, with particular emphasis on the relationship between law and religion, constitutional design, and the history of legal theory. He is the author of eight books. Amongst them: "The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State" and "After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy."

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Stanley Fischer
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Yochi Fischer
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Dr. Yochi Fisher is a senior research fellow and director of the Advanced Studies unit at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. She is an historian whose research interests include religion and secularization in local contexts and in comparative perspective. Dr. Fisher heads several local and international collaborative projects – including "Religious and Political Identities: The Mediterranean Basin since 1492" with Georgetown University, and an international research group on "Religion and Secularism in Non-Western Societies: Comparative Aspects." She is the author of the 2015 volume, Secularization and Secularism: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.

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Shmuel Feiner
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Prof. Shmuel Feiner is a professor of modern Jewish history at Bar Ilan University, the Samuel Braun Chair for the History of the Jews in Prussia and the chair of the Leo Baeck Institute in Jerusalem. His areas of historical research include processes of modernization and secularization among 18th and 19th century European Jewry, with a focus on the Jewish Enlightenment.

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Dalia Fadila
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Osvaldo Golijov
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Osvaldo Golijov's compositions are regularly performed around the world by leading soloists, ensembles and orchestras. He is currently working on a music-theatre work for Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble.

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Ruth Gavison
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Ruth Gavison is a law professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her areas of research include ethnic conflict, the protection of minorities, human rights, political theory, judiciary law, religion and politics, and Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

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Micah Goodman
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Micah Goodman, a lecturer in Jewish thought at the Hebrew University and senior research fellow at the Hartman Institute, heads the Ein Prat Academy for Leadership, Israel’s foremost pluralistic Bet Midrash for young adults. A prominent thinker and leading voice on Judaism, Zionism, the Bible, and the challenges facing Israel and world Jewry today, he is the author of two bestselling books: The Secrets of the Guide for the Perplexed (2011) and The Dream of the Kuzari (2012). In addition to numerous awards for his publications, he is a 2014 recipient of the Marc and Henia Liebhaber Prize for Religious Tolerance.

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Ali Haider
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Ali Haider served in the past decade as co-director of Sikkuy, the Association for the Advancement of Equal Opportunity (between the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel). In this capacity he ran several projects, including the Equality Index. He initiated and led the Project to Develop Leadership and Community Entrepreneurship in the Arab Sector and worked as an attorney for several human rights organizations. Ali was a co-author of the Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel documents (2006). He is a founder and active member of many civil society organizations, including the Arab Pedagogic Council, Adalah, the I’lam Center, and the Center for Social Justice. Ali holds an LLB and LLM from Bar-Ilan University and an MA in political science from the University of Haifa. He studied human rights and Israeli society at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for one year, and studied journalism for a year at Ha’aretz. Ali is interested in a number of topics, including human and civil rights, public policy, and philosophy (especially Islamic philosophy). He contributes frequent opinion pieces to the Arabic, Hebrew, and English press.

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Aviad Hacohen
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Moshe Halbertal
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Moshe Halbertal is an Israeli Jewish philosopher, professor, and writer, and a noted expert on Maimonides. He is co-author of the Israeli Army Code of Ethics.

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Yair Hamburger
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​Yair Hamburger is chair of the board of Harel Insurance Investments & Financial Services Ltd., having served as the CEO from its establishment in 1975 until 2010. He is credited with growing the small insurance firm into the third largest elementary insurance company in Israel. He is, in addition, the chair of Kaedan Capital Ltd., Harel PIA Mutual Funds Ltd., Connex Jerusalem Ltd. and Harel Insurance Company Ltd. He was awarded an honorary degree from Netanya Academic College in recognition of his work in furthering insurance and his contribution to social causes in various spheres of Israeli society.

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Hannah Herzog
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Assaf Inbari
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​Israeli novelist Assaf Inbari is renowned for his bestselling novel Home (2009) which relates the history of Kibbutz Afikim from its founding to the present day. Home was published to great acclaim, receiving the Israel Book Publishers Association's Platinum Prize (2010) and being shortlisted for the Sapir Prize (2010). He received his Ph.D. in Hebrew literature from Bar Ilan University in 2008 and has written extensively on the subject of Israeli literature and Jewish identity. He lectures at both Kinneret College and Kibbutzim College.

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Miron Izakson
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Eva Illouz
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Eva Illouz is the author of 80 articles and book chapters, and of 10 books translated in 16 languages; the recipient of numerous International awards. Eva Illouz was a member of the Wissenshaftskolleg zu Berlin in 2007, and is a Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Directeur d'Etudes at the EHESS, Paris. She holds a Chair of Excellence, Paris Sciences Lettres.

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Josef Joffe
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Daniel Kurtzer
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Daniel C. Kurtzer is the S. Daniel Abraham Professor of Middle East Policy Studies at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He received his PhD from Columbia University. During his 29-year career in the US Foreign Service, he served as US ambassador to Israel and to Egypt and played key roles in shaping US policy in the Middle East peace process. He is the recipient of distinguished service awards from both the President and the Secretary of State. He is the co-author of Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East (2008) and The Peace Puzzle: America’s Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace, 1989-2011 (2013).

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Nicole Krauss
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Nicole Krauss has been hailed by the New York Times as "one of America's most important novelists." She is the author of the international bestsellers, "Man Walks Into a Room" (2002), "The History of Love" (2005) and "Great House" (2010). Her fiction has been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, and Best American Short Stories, and her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages.

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Yosef Kaplan
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Yosef Kaplan is professor emeritus of the history of the Jewish people at the Hebrew University where he was one of the founders of the School of History and subsequently held many senior positions. He also serves as chair of the humanities division of the Israeli Academy of Science and Humanities. He has had visiting appointments at many prestigious universities. He is the recipient of many prizes and distinctions including the Israel Prize for his work on the history of the Jewish people (2013). He is the author of numerous publications on subjects such as medieval Jewish history, the Sephardi diaspora, and ideological ferment in the early Jewish enlightenment.

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Cathleen Kantner
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George Kanazi
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Prof. (Emeritus) George J. Kanazi born in Nazareth, Israel in 1941. Academic studies: First & second degrees: Hebrew University in Arabic Language and literature, and English language and literature, Muslim civilization. (1962-1966) Third degree: University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA), Medieval Arabic theory of rhetoric and literary criticism, 1971. Fields of research: Arabic theory of literary criticism, Arabic poetry, shi'ite literature. Publications: Nine books on literary criticism, theory of love in medieval Arabic literature, Wine in medieval Arabic literature, and other topics. Tens of articles on various topics in medieval Arabic literature.

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Nidaa Khoury
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Nidaa Khoury is a poet, translator, critique and literary scholar, born in Fassouta in Israel's Upper Galilee. Khoury is a senior lecturer in Ben-Gurion University and has written numerous poetry books in her native Arabic, many of which have been translated into various languages. Among these are Kitab al-khataya (The Book of Sins) (2011), Kitab al-khalal (Book of Defect) (2011), and Be-Guf Akher (In another Body), an anthology of poems translated into Hebrew (2011). Her book The Bitter Crown (1997) was censored in Jordan. Khoury has served as a coordinator of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens in Israel, she was founder and director of the NGO Survival working on behalf of minorities in Israel, and is active in Al-Nuhud, an association for the promotion of Bedouin women. Among the prizes she has been awarded are the Literature Prize from the Ministry of Culture (2000), and The Levi Eshkol Memorial Prize for Hebrew Authors (2012).

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Alex Lubotsky
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Jonathan Lear
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Jonathan Lear is the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor on the Committee on Social Thought and professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago. He works primarily on philosophical conceptions of the human psyche from Socrates to the present.

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Yuval Levin
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Agi Mishol
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Possibly Israel's most popular living poet, Agi Mishol was born to Holocaust survivor parents in Transylvania and was brought to Israel at the age of four. She is the author of 17 volumes of poetry. Mishol won the Israeli Prime Minister Prize in 1995, the Kugel literary award in 2000, the Yehuda Amichai Prize in 2002 and the Dolitsky Prize in 2007.

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Avishai Margalit
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​Avishai Margalit is the Schulman Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the Hebrew University where he has been a member of faculty since 1970. He has held various visiting appointments at prestigious universities, serving as the George F. Kennan Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2006-2011). A member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, he is known not only as a thinker and commentator on the contemporary human condition but also as a peace activist with profound observations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is the recipient of numerous distinctions including the EMET prize (2007), and Israel Prize for Philosophy (2011). He was awarded the FIPH 2012 Philosophical Book Award from the Hannover Institute of Philosophical Research for his most recent book On Compromise and Rotten Compromises (2009).

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Peter N. Miller
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Peter N. Miller is professor of history and dean and chair of academic programs at Bard Graduate Center, having received his Ph.D. from Cambridge University in 1990. He has held various visiting appointments and is a past fellow of both the MacArthur and the Guggenheim Foundations. Known for his expertise in intellectual history, he has written many books on philosophical and methodological issues in the history of historiography and cultural history including Defining the Common Good: Empire, Religion and Philosophy in Eighteenth-Century Britain (1994, 2004) and Peiresc's Orient: Antiquarianism as Cultural History in the Seventeenth Century (2012).

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Dominique Moisi
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Political scientist Dominique Moisi is the co-founder and a senior advisor of the French Institute of International Affairs (IFRI). He has served as a professor at L'Institut d'études politiques de Paris, and a visiting professor both at Harvard and at the College of Europe in Natolin. He is a member of the International Advisory Council of the Moscow School of Political Studies and of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Former editor-in-chief and current editorial board member of Politique étrangère, Moisi regularly contributes op-ed articles and essays to various renowned international publications. He is also the author of The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation and Hope are Reshaping the World (2010).

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Menahem Magidor
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Moshe Meir
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David N. Myers
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​David N. Myers is a professor of Jewish history and chair of the history department at UCLA, having previously served as the director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies. He is, in addition, the co-editor of the Jewish Quarterly Review. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research. He has held visiting positions at various international institutions. His research focuses on the history of Jewish historiography, the history of Zionism, and modern Jewish intellectual history and he has written several books including Re-Inventing the Jewish Past (1995) and Resisting History: Historicism and its Discontents in German-Jewish Thought (2003).

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David Nirenberg
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Julia Neuberger
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Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE is senior rabbi at West London Synagogue and was the second woman rabbi in the UK, the first worldwide to have her own congregation. She is a member of the House of Lords and a social commentator, writing and broadcasting on a variety of social and religious issues. Among her many voluntary and philanthropic positions, she is a trustee of the Van Leer Foundation and of the Walter and Liesel Schwab Charitable Trust for the education of young asylum seekers and refugees, set up in memory of her parents. Her book The Moral State We're In (2005) is a study of morality and public policy in modern day Britain.

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Fania Oz Salzberger
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Fania Oz-Salzberger is a professor of history in the faculty of law at the University of Haifa where she also heads the Posen Research Forum for Jewish European and Israeli Political Thought. She is active on the advisory boards of the Israel Democracy Institute and the German-Israeli Future Forum. She has held visiting appointments at Monash University and Princeton among other academic institutions. She is the author of many publications in her specialized field of the history of ideas and political thought including Israeli in Berlin (2001), and the more recent Jews and Words (2012) which she co-authored with her father, the writer Amos Oz.

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Tomer Persico
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Diana Pinto
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Diana Pinto is an historian and writer living in Paris. Her work has focused mainly on multiple identities inside pluralist democracies. In this context she has written and lectured widely on Jewish life in contemporary Europe. Her latest book "Israel Has Moved" (2013), a cultural-political reflection on Israel’s changing coordinates.

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Haviva Pedaya
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Haviva Pedaya, poet, author and cultural critic. She is professor of Jewish history at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and head of the Elyachar Center for Sephardi Heritage. She has published articles on religion, sociology, art, history, and mysticism as well as three volumes of poetry.

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Ada Rapoport-Albert
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Tamar Ross
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Prof. Tamar Ross is a professor of Jewish Philosophy at Bar Ilan University and considered one of the world's greatest experts on religious feminist philosophy. She is the author of books and articles on Jewish ethics and theology, contemporary issues in traditional Jewish thought, philosophy of halakha, and Orthodox Jewish feminism.

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Itamar Rabinovitch
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​Itamar Rabinovich served as Israel's ambassador to the US and chief negotiator with Syria in the mid-1990s. From 1999-2007 he was president of Tel Aviv University, having been a member of faculty since 1971. He is currently the president of the newly founded Israel Institute (Washington and Jerusalem), Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University, Distinguished Global Professor at NYU and a Distinguished Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center. Over the years, Professor Rabinovich has held many public positions in Israel and abroad, as well as various visiting appointments at Princeton, Cornell, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Toronto. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society and a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received many prestigious international awards. He is the author and co-author of many publications on the modern history and politics of the Middle East. His most recent books are The View from Damascus (2011) and The Lingering Conflict: Israel, The Arabs and The Middle East (2011).

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David Shulman
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James Snyder
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Natan Sharansky
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Natan Sharansky, one of the most famous former Soviet Union refuseniks, is the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel. A leader in the struggle for the right of Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel, Sharansky went on to found the Yisrael B’Aliyah political party and served in four successive Israeli governments as a minister and deputy prime minister. He is the author of three bestselling books, including a memoir Fear No Evil (1988) which has been translated into several languages, and is the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor (1986) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2006).

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Anita Shapira
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Anita Shapira, an Israeli historian specializing in modern and contemporary Jewish history, is professor emerita in Jewish history at Tel Aviv University. In addition to various positions at Tel Aviv University, she also held several visiting appointments abroad. She was the founder and first director of the Rabin Center and has served in many public bodies such as the Council for Higher Education, the Claims Conference, and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish culture. Her many awards and distinctions include the Zalman Shazar Prize (2004) and the Israel Prize (2011). She is the author of many published works such as Berl: The Biography of a Socialist Zionist, Berl Katznelson, 1887-1944 (1984), Land and Power, the Zionist Resort to Force, 1882-1948 (1992), and, more recently, Israel: A History (2013). Additionally, the biographies written by Shapira on David Ben-Gurion and Yosef Haim Brenner will be released the United States next fall.

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Avigdor Shinan
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Prof. Avigdor Shinan is Professor Emeritus in the departments of Hebrew Literature, Yiddish and Comparative Jewish Folklore at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shinan has served as head of the departments of General Studies, and of Hebrew Literature and as Dean of the Hebrew University. He has served as visiting Professor at Yale, JTS, and Yeshiva University and has also taught at Ben-Gurion, Tel-Aviv, and at the Schechter Institute. Born in Prague in 1946, he completed his higher education at The Hebrew University, where he has been teaching since 1972 while engaged in his principal research fields: the literature of the Aggadah and the Midrash, the Aramaic translations of Scriptures and the history of the Siddur. He has published over 120 articles in these various fields and more than ten books including the Avi Chai Siddur, Pirkei Avot – A New Israeli Commentary, and, in collaboration with Prof. Yair Zakovitch That is not What the Good Book Says. Shinan also translated Yosef Dov Soloveitchik's books into Hebrew, and edited the popular journal "Et Ha-Da'at". He also serves as an academic consultant for Keren Avi Chai and Beit Avi Chai in Jerusalem.

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Yedidia Stern
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Mati Steinberg
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Prof. Mati Steinberg specializes in Palestinian national thought and issues of Islamic fundamentalism. For many years he held senior positions in the field of research intelligence. From 1996-2003 he served as an advisor to heads of Israel's security services. Prof. Steinberg is a researcher in the Israel Democracy Institute's Amnon Lipkin-Shahak Program on National Security and Democracy.

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Jonathan D. Sarna
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Sammy Smooha
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Sammy Smooha is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Haifa. He previously served as the dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and was president of the Israeli Sociological Society. He has held numerous visiting appointments at universities and research institutes, and in 2008 was awarded the Israel Prize for Sociology. A specialist in comparative ethnic relations, Smooha has published widely on internal divisions in Israeli society, on Israel from a comparative perspective, and on Arab-Jewish relations in Israel. He developed the model of ethnic democracy and applied it, along with other scholars, to Israel and other countries. Since 2003 he has been conducting the annual Index of Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel.

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Emmanuel Sivan
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Haim Sabato
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Rabbi Haim Sabato is an Israeli rabbi and author. Nearly three decades after he fought in the Yom Kippur War, his account of his experiences was published in the highly acclaimed novel "Adjusting Sights". His other novels include "Aleppo Tales" and "The Dawning of the Day". Rabbi Sabato co-founded the Birkat Moshe yeshiva in Maaleh Adumim near Jerusalem, in which he teaches to this day.

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Sara Sviri
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Jonathan Sacks
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Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is an international religious leader, philosopher, award-winning author and respected moral voice. He served for 22 years as Chief Rabbi of the UK and Commonwealth. He is the author of over 30 books, including the bestseller "Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence" (2015).

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Shibley Telhami
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Prof. Shibley Telhami is a Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland. Shibley is an expert on U.S. policy in the Middle East, on Arab politics, and on shifting political identities in the Arab world. He regularly conducts public opinion polls in the Arab world, Israel, and the United States. Among his many publications are “The World Through Arab Eyes", “The Peace Puzzle", and the best-selling “The Stakes: America in the Middle East”.

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Michal Tikochinksy
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Michael Walzer
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One of America’s foremost political thinkers, Prof. Michael Walzer has written about a wide variety of topics in political theory and moral philosophy, including political obligation, just and unjust war, nationalism and ethnicity, economic justice, and the welfare state. He served as co-editor of the political journal Dissent for more than three decades, retiring in 2014.

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Leon Wieseltier
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Leon Wieseltier is a writer, critic, philosopher and literary editor. Amongst his books – "Kaddish" (1998), which won the Jewish Book Council Award. He also won the 2013 Dan David Prize for his contributions to ideas and contemporary philosophy.

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Ariel Weiss
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Jack Wertheimer
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Remembering the Ninth President of Israel - Mr. Shimon Peres

Mr. Peres was a true friend of the National Library of Israel, having served as the Honorary Chairman of its Global Forum.

Read his Words
.The National Library of Israel thanks the David Berg Foundation for its support of the Second Gathering of the Global Forum