Antisemitism and Defining Community Safety in the Era of Je Suis Charlie

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Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 20153:00PM - 5:00PMThe Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility, Munk School of Global Affairs
1 Devonshire Place
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Holocaust Education Week


This session focuses on how community safety can be defined and promoted in the context of antisemitism in Europe. Concern over Jewish community safety is freshly prominent, with high-profile attacks in Paris, Brussels, and Copenhagen, apprehension over Holocaust denial and trivialization, and reports of European Jewish emigration. In the wake of this insecurity, we see attempts to increase community trust and security across domains: in France, a prefect was appointed to protect religious and cultural sites; the Director of the Mémorial de la Shoah has identified Holocaust and genocide education as a means to combat antisemitism; and a European Commission Colloquium was formed to address hate crime and promote inclusivity. Building on these responses, Ethan Katz will discuss his research on encounters between Jews and Muslims in France over the past century — encounters that include violent altercations and animosities but also frequent coexistence. Katz invites us to think about community safety in very broad terms — what conditions historically have made France’s Jews safe to live alongside Muslims? When have those conditions become threatened? What does it mean to think about Jewish and Muslim safety together as part of a broader picture of community safety? What light does the past shed on the present and the future? Katz will discuss the role of states, cities, community leaders, and international actors in promoting or impeding respectful coexistence, and how the European Jewish experience opens thinking into political, pedagogical, and legal approaches to define, measure, and promote community safety.

Ethan Katz was educated at Amherst College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, from which he received his PhD in 2009. He also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Currently, Katz is Assistant Professor of History and Affiliated Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Cincinnati. He has received a number of prestigious fellowships, including a Bourse Chateaubriand from the French government and a year-long post-doctoral fellowship at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Katz has just published two books that both speak to questions of community safety. The first is a co-edited book entitled Secularism in Question: Jews and Judaism in Modern Times, out this past summer from the University of Pennsylvania Press. It examines, from a range of perspectives, the growing debate over what secularism has meant for Jewish history and Jewish thought in modern times. This book touches in a variety of ways on what it has meant for Jews to live among other cultures and other peoples and adapt to changing social, political, and intellectual contexts. His second book, of particular interest for this session, is just officially out this fall, from Harvard University Press. It is entitled The Burdens of Brotherhood: Jews and Muslims from North Africa to France. It is a history of Jewish-Muslim relations in France from World War I up to the present. Katz focuses on the experiences of ordinary people, and seeks to bring historical perspective to France’s current crisis of Jewish-Muslim relations. Katz always tries to address a wider public with his work. He has penned articles in publications such as the Forward, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Jewish Review of Books and also speaks regularly in a range of public venues in the Cincinnati Jewish community and far beyond.


Ethan Katz
Assistant Professor of History and Affiliated Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Cincinnati

Ron Levi
Associate Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs and Department of Sociology

Jeffrey Reitz
Director, Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies; Professor, Department of Sociology


Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto

Munk School of Global Affairs

George Ignatieff Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies

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