EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION OF ISRAEL STUDIES BEING LAUNCHED:
CONFERENCE IN LONDON SEPTEMBER 18, 2011
During the past year, your colleagues in Britain and France have been active in establishing a European Association of Israel Studies (EAIS).
In both the United States and Israel, Israel studies exists, in all its variations, as a defined academic discipline. In the United States, Centres for Israeli Studies are being established virtually every year. Anyone who has attended the annual Association of Israel Studies conference will realise how different the situation is in North America compared to Europe.
In Europe, more and more people are involved in teaching and researching Israel studies in all its aspects, but it is often subsumed within Middle East studies, Jewish studies etc. There is no coordinating mechanism within Europe. The formation of the EAIS is intended to remedy this deficiency.
In November 2009, nearly 40 British colleagues met in London and discussed the situation in Britain. It was an enthusiastic meeting because few had actually met their colleagues previously. The meeting continued far beyond the allotted time. A steering committee was established shortly afterwards. A French branch of the EAIS has been established and we are currently working towards establishing branches in Italy and Germany.
We have secured funding from the independent Pears Foundation for the European Association of Israel Studies for the next four years. This will allow us to employ a part-time coordinator to run the organisation. The EAIS will be hosted at SOAS, University of London which will run the financial operations of the organization but the governance of the organization will be independent.
We have few contacts in Eastern Europe. This is why I have written to you. All of us involved in this initiative would truly welcome your contribution and your participation in this important venture. If we can construct such a network in Europe, it will be to the benefit of us all.
This can lead to conferences, workshops, publications and many other examples of normal academic practice. Even doctoral students can create their own network.
We will formally launch the European Association of Israel Studies at a networking conference in London on Sunday 18 September 2011. Your colleagues from other parts of Europe will be there. I hope that you too will attend and participate in this important project.
I would very much welcome your initial reaction and look forward to hearing your views.
With all good wishes,
Professor Colin Shindler
Professor of Israel Studies
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London