There will be no rallying taking place at the Israel academic conference, titled “Israel Under the Lens,” this weekend. The free, day-long conference held at the Michigan League this Sunday will discuss issues in a manner extending beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Various Jewish student groups on campus and in the Ann Arbor community have organized the conference, selecting a diverse group of experts to speak on topics including U.S.-Israel relations, the relevance of Israel in the Midwest, the role of women and the Israel peace movement.
The two keynote speakers, Israeli Deputy Consul General David Roet and Brigadier General Relik Shafir, will be opening and concluding the conference, respectively. Roet will speak about Israel”s increasing ties to the Midwest and Shafir will discuss the future of democracy in the Middle East. Shafir is speaking as part of the Caravan for Democracy, which allows Israeli politicians to come to college campuses in the U.S. and discuss challenges faced by Israel in being the only democracy in the Middle East.
“The idea was to get away from advocacy, and present in a more academic manner,” LSA senior Jordan Nodel, a conference organizer, said.
People attending the conference will be given the opportunity to ask questions and voice their opinion during breaks between speakers.
“The purpose is to promote a discourse on the issues of Israel and the Middle East,” LSA junior and conference organizer David Post said.
The event is the only Israel academic conference in the United States this year, and is expected to draw students from across the nation. It will be the largest Hillel event concerning Israel since 1995.
Organizers are encouraging everyone to attend regardless of their background.
“It”s a conference for everyone for people who are interested in discussing matters in an academic and objective manner,” Nodel said.
He added that the event provides a good opportunity for people who don”t know much about the Middle Eastern conflict to learn more about the issues.
At the end of the conference, a reception will be held allowing students to talk with the speakers personally.
A large, diverse number of groups are sponsoring the conference including the University Hillel, the Jewish Community Council, the anti-defamation league, the University women”s studies department and several others.
“There”s a lot of groups involved in this,” Nodel said. “I think it”s exciting because it will be an eclectic event it”s an all-encompassing event.”
Post agreed, saying that “there”s a wide range of perspectives offered. We encourage people to draw their own conclusions.”