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College of Arts & Sciences
Jewish Studies Program

Josef Olmert Lecture

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 6:30pm

“Iran: The burden of the past and Israel’s foreign policy”

Josef Olmert
London School of Economics

One of George Santayana's less known quotations is that America is a young country with old mentality. For its part, Israel is an old country with very old mentality. Like most other countries, Israel's foreign policy reflects the entire gamut of geo-strategic considerations, but unlike most countries, there is something else in place, casting a dark cloud over the decision-making process. This something is THE PAST, the long history of persecution and near-exterminations of the Jewish people. Current discussion in Israel about Iran's nuclear program strongly highlights these themes. The words ''history'', ''genocide'', and ''holocaust'' are being used with great frequency by policy-makers, politicians, the media, and the general public.

This talk will analyze the impact of THE PAST on Israel's own nuclear policy, and on its attitude to the nuclear challenges posed by its enemies (in particular, Iran). The talk will describe and analyze these policy matters, going back to David Ben Gurion’s initial decision to launch the Israeli nuclear program, Menachem Begin's justifications for the Israeli attack on and destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor, and Benjamin Netanyahu's current rhetoric about Iran and its nuclear aspirations.

Josef Olmert (PhD, London School of Economics) has a career that spans three decades. A native of Israel, he was formerly a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv, Hebrew, and Bar-Ilan Universities in his home country. He has previously taught at Cornell University, City College of New York, American University, and York University (Canada). In addition to his teaching work, Olmert served in senior positions in the Israeli government, such as the Director of Communications under Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Policy Advisor to Defense Minister Moshe Arens. Josef Olmert served diplomatic missions across the world and was a participant at the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991 and subsequent Israeli/Syrian peace talks.

Place: Daniel Management Center,8th floor, Moore School of Business

This lecture is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a reception. For more information, please access the event flyer.

[Sponsored by The USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the Jewish Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences.] 

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