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Nazarian Center visiting scholars make impactful contributions

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Dr. Uri Dorchin giving a public lecture about Israeli rap and hip hop music, Fall 2019 quarter. (Photo: Jeff Daniels/UCLA)

In the 2019-20 academic year, the Nazarian Center's visiting professors and postdocs significantly contributed to the center's mission of advancing public knowledge and academic scholarship about Israel.

"The dialogue with students of different cultures and different viewpoints enabled a deeper understanding of Israel, as well as of the connection between Israeli thought and current events in the U.S." - Dr. Alon Amit, Israel Institute Visiting Assistant Professor at the UCLA Nazarian Center

By Jeff Daniels

Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, June 16, 2020 – Over the 2019-20 academic year, the Nazarian Center for Israel Studies hosted a vibrant group of visiting professors and postdoctoral fellows – Dr. Scott Abramson, Dr. Nili Alon Amit, Dr. Assaf Bondy, and Dr. Uri Dorchin – who taught courses and conducted research in the field of Israel Studies. Their research resulted in articles in scholarly journals and other publications, as well as seminars, symposiums, and various book projects. Our visiting scholars also participated in numerous public events and webinars, which reached a global audience during the pandemic.

“It was a great pleasure for us to host such an impressive group of visiting scholars, most of them from Israel. Working in different disciplines – History, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, and Anthropology – and at different stages in their academic careers, this diverse group of scholars greatly enriched the study of modern Israel at UCLA and beyond," said Professor Dov Waxman, the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Chair in Israel Studies at UCLA, where he also directs the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. "Personally, I learned a lot from them.” 

Dr. Alon Amit, who was an Israel Institute Visiting Assistant Professor at the UCLA Nazarian Center, taught courses on Israeli and Jewish literature, philosophy, and education in the International & Area Studies program of the International Institute, and the departments of Comparative Literature and Jewish Studies. Her most popular course was “On Happiness and Redemption: A Literary History from Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel.” “I met wonderful students with various levels of acquaintance with Israel who were happy to learn more,” said Dr. Alon Amit. “I felt honored to introduce to them key philosophers and authors of Israeli culture, some in my own translation from Hebrew to English. The dialogue with students of different cultures and different viewpoints enabled a deeper understanding of Israel, as well as of the connection between Israeli thought and current events in the U.S." During the past year, Dr. Alon Amit published an article and book chapter on the Israeli philosophy of education. She also gave a campus talk in the Fall quarter, “Land and Wisdom: The Love of Zion – from the Hebrew Bible to Contemporary Israeli Poetry,” and participated in other academic and community programs on behalf of the Nazarian Center. She will remain at the Nazarian Center next academic year as a Visiting Scholar.
 Visiting Assistant Professor Uri Dorchin taught a variety of courses at UCLA, including “Popular Jewish and Israeli Music” in the Department of Musicology; “Popular Culture and Social Debates in Israel” in the Department of Anthropology; and “Modern Israel: Society, Politics and Culture” in the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures. A former radio DJ, Dorchin’s research at UCLA included focusing on Israeli rap and hip hop music, and was the subject of a public program in the Fall quarter where he explored the significance of Mizrahi (Middle Eastern) music in the formation of Israeli rap. Dr. Dorchin also organized and participated in an academic symposium at UCLA entitled, “Blackness in Israel: Political and Cultural Dimensions,” which featured a roundtable discussion on blackness in everyday life and popular culture in Israel. Dorchin is now completing a book on the topic, Blackness in Israel: Rethinking Racial Boundaries, which will be published by Routledge later this year.

Dr. Assaf Bondy, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Nazarian Center, taught a course on the “Sociology of Work” for the Department of Sociology, and conducted his research on labor and industrial relations, including comparing and contrasting policies and unions in the U.S. and Israel. During the past academic year, he published an article “Disputing Strikes – Solidarity as an Answer to the Challenges on Strikes” in Telem, an Israeli journal, and he presented his work at the center’s monthly research seminar in March. This summer Dr. Bondy will receive an award for his research from the Canadian Industrial Relations Association and he will return to Israel, where he will join the Safra Center for Ethics at Tel Aviv University as a Postdoctoral Fellow next academic year.

Dr. Scott Abramson, the center’s other Post-Doctoral Fellow, taught a popular course on “Zionism: Ideology and Practice in the Making of a Jewish State.” “I was gratified beyond expectation that my course on Zionism found so enthusiastic a response from the students,” said Abramson. “I was still more gratified (and still more surprised) when a few of them told me at the end of the quarter of their intention, which the course had inspired, to take a minor in Israel Studies.” While at the center, Dr. Abramson, a historian of the modern Middle East, has been writing a book, Friends behind Enemy Lines: The History of Israel's Alliance with the Kurds of Iraq. He also wrote a guest column for the center, “Israeli Kurdophilia and the American ‘Betrayal’ of the Syrian Kurds.” Although Dr. Abramson’s fellowship ends this academic year, he will stay at UCLA next year as a lecturer to teach his course on Zionism.