University of Minnesota
Center for Jewish Studies
jwst@umn.edu
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Center for Jewish Studies

Center for Jewish Studies

About Us

At the Center for Jewish Studies, we are dedicated to exploring the important questions about Jewish history and culture from antiquity to the modern age. Our acclaimed faculty, path-breaking research, expanding undergraduate program, and focus on deepening ties within the University attest to the success and ongoing promise of our mission: to foster a new understanding of Jewish culture and history.

We support the academic study of the historical, cultural, linguistic, ethnic, geographic, and religious diversity of the full range of peoples who identify themselves as Jewish, while fulfilling the educational mission of the liberal arts to promote critical thought, reflection on values, and analysis of sources.


Announcements


Kickoff Lecture for the 2016-2017 Lecture Series

The Star and the Stripes: The Foreign Policies of American Jews

Michael Barnett, The George Washington University

How do American Jews envision their role in the world? Are they tribal—a people whose obligations extend solely to their own? Or are they prophetic—a light unto nations, working to repair the world? The Star and the Stripes is an original, provocative interpretation of the effects of these worldviews on the foreign policy beliefs of American Jews since the nineteenth century. He argues that it all begins with the political identity of American Jews. As Jews, they are committed to their people’s survival. As Americans, they identify with, and believe their survival depends on, the American principles of liberalism, religious freedom, and pluralism. This identity and search for inclusion form a political theology of prophetic Judaism that emphasizes the historic mission of Jews to help create a world of peace and justice. This political theology accounts for two enduring features of the foreign policy beliefs of American Jews. They exhibit a cosmopolitan sensibility, advocating on behalf of human rights, humanitarianism, and international law and organizations. They also are suspicious of nationalism—including their own. Contrary to the conventional wisdom that American Jews are natural-born Jewish nationalists, Barnett charts a long history of ambivalence; this ambivalence connects their early rejection of Zionism with the current debate regarding their attachment to Israel. And, Barnett contends, this growing ambivalence also explains the rising popularity of humanitarian and social justice movements among American Jews. Rooted in the understanding of how history shapes a political community’s sense of the world, The Star and the Stripes is a bold reading of the past, present, and possible future foreign policies of American Jews.

Professor Michael Barnett

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

7:30 p.m.

Beth El Synagogue

5224 W 26th Street, St Louis Park, MN 55416

Michael Barnett is University Professor of International Affairs and Political Science at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Currently, he is an Associate Editor of International Organization. Among his books are Rules for the World: International Organizations in World Politics (with Martha Finnemore), Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda, and Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism. He received his phd from the University of Minnesota and served as the Harold Stassen Chair at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs from 2004-2011.