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UA international conference to broach global anti-Semitism

Former British Parliament member Luciana Berger will headline the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies international conference on anti-Semitism Feb. 23 in Tucson.

The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Arizona will host a two-day international conference, “Contradictions and Tropes of Anti-Semitism,” Feb. 23-24. “The conference will address the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism in this country,” says Gil Ribak, Ph.D., organizing committee co-chair with Ed Wright, Ph.D., and Günther Jikeli, Ph.D., of Indiana University.

In conjunction with the Shaol and Louis Pozez Memorial Lectureship Series, the conference will feature as keynote speaker former British Member of Parliament Luciana Berger, who resigned from the Labour Party in February 2019 in protest over anti-Semitism under party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Anti-Semitism has been on the rise since the turn of the 21st century in Europe and, more recently, also in the United States, not only in terms of the number of daily attacks against Jews and Jewish communities but also in political discourse, both on the far right and the far left, say organizers.

“We have all watched in horror as anti-Semitism has exploded worldwide in recent years, often with deadly results,” Wright says. “Together we have assembled an outstanding, international group of speakers who will address a wide variety of forms of anti-Semitism today. The overall goal is to understand the features, driving ideologies, tropes, and dangers of modern anti-Semitism and how to combat them.”

“There are many examples of contradictions in different versions of anti-Semitism,” says Ribak,”

Berger will speak at the plenary and dinner Feb. 23 at the Tucson Marriott University Park Hotel, addressing anti-Semitism in Great Britain generally and her experience with it in the context of British politics specifically. 

She began her political career in 2010 as a Labour Party MP representing Liverpool Wavertree. She eventually became a vocal opponent of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over a variety of issues (Brexit, public health, climate change), but most importantly over his failure to address anti-Semitism within the party. Last year she co-founded the Independent Group, then joined the Liberal Democrats, and ran for a seat in the House of Commons representing London’s Finchley and Golders Green constituency, losing to Conservative Mike Freer. Berger currently serves as vice president of the Jewish Leadership Council, an organization dedicated to promoting the interests of the Jewish community throughout Britain. 

Sunday’s conference at the UArizona Student Union Memorial Center, 2nd Floor, Kiva Room, 1303 E. University Blvd., will include three sessions: White Nationalism and Christian Nationalism; Transformations —Latin America; and Tropes Among “Progressives” and Alliances. Monday’s sessions are Anti-Semitic Tropes by Jews; Anti-Jewish Discourses in Different Muslim Countries; and The Memory of the Holocaust in a Changing World.

Along with Jikeli, speakers are R. Amy Elman, Ph.D., Kalamazoo College, Michigan; Miriam F. Elman, Ph.D., Syracuse University, New York; Aleksandra Gliszczynska-Grabias, Ph.D., The Polish Academy of Sciences; Dr. Matthias Küntzel, Ph.D., University of Hamburg; Lidia Isabel Lerner, M.A., Tel Aviv University; Stephen H. Norwood, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma; Eunice G. Pollack, Ph.D., University of North Texas; Alvin H. Rosenfeld, PhD., Indiana University; Philip Spencer, Ph.D., University of London; Eric Ward, Western States Center, Portland, Oregon; and Steven M. Wasserstrom, Ph.D., Reed College, Portland.

The conference will produce a book based on the presentations, edited by Ribak and Jikeli and published by Indiana University Press, which has one of the world’s leading Jewish studies series. 

Conference registration is open until Friday, Feb. 21. The conference is $50/day or $75 for both days. Registration includes garage parking. The dinner is $50, with registration closing Friday, Feb. 14. Register at For more information, contact Jackie Schmidt at