We regret that, due to unforeseen circumstances, Professor Ted Sasson is unable to come to UCLA and his talk have been cancelled. We hope to reschedule in the future.
Much of the contemporary public discourse on American Jewry’s connection to Israel emphasizes “distancing,” especially in the younger generation. However, across every major domain of the diaspora-homeland relationship, the evidence suggests the opposite: Donations to Israeli causes, travel to Israel and participation in Israel advocacy are all increasing. In surveys, American Jews express as much attachment to Israel as ever. But real changes are occurring in the relationship of American Jews to Israel. Professor Sasson describes how, increasingly, American Jews relate to Israel personally and experientially rather than through their communal organizations; they are also more likely to advocate on behalf of their own political views and direct donations to causes of their own choosing. As a result, the politics of Israel in the American Jewish community have become increasingly contentious. In the future, he predicts, American Jews will remain strongly connected to Israel, deriving personal meaning from their encounters and struggles with the Jewish state. However, because their political and philanthropic activity will be diffused among multiple targets and positions, their influence over affairs in Israel may paradoxically weaken.
Theodore Sasson is Senior Research Scientist at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute, Brandeis University. He is also Professor of International Studies at Middlebury College, and Visiting Research Professor, Sociology Department, Brandeis University.
Author of books and scholarly articles in the fields of political sociology and criminology, Professor Sasson's current work examines Israeli political culture and Israel-Diaspora relations. His recent articles include: "Framing Religious Conflict: Popular Israeli Discourse on Religion and State" (with Ephraim Tabory, Journal of Church and State, fall 2010); "Trends in American Jewish Attachment to Israel: an Assessment of the ‘Distancing' Hypothesis (with Charles Kadushin and Leonard Saxe, Contemporary Jewry, fall 2010); "From Mass Mobilization to Direct Engagement: The Changing Relationship of American Jews to Israel" (Israel Studies, summer 2010); and "Converging Political Cultures: How Globalization is Shaping the Discourses of Israeli and American Jews" (with Ephraim Tabory, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, winter 2010).
Professor Sasson serves as co-principal investigator of evaluation research for the educational program Taglit-Birthright Israel, and as co-principal investigator for the Jewish Futures Project, a longitudinal study of Jewish young adults.
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