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Leon Wieseltier to Deliver Free Talk on ‘Israel and America: Two Zions?’

The Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Foundation Endowed Symposia in Jewish Studies at UCSB will present Leon Wieseltier for a free presentation titled "Israel and America: Two Zions?" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14 Congregation B’nai B’rith, 1000 San Antonio Creek Road in Santa Barbara.

Leon Wieseltier

Wieseltier, noted writer, critic and literary editor of The New Republic, is the author of Kaddish (1998), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, Against Identity (1996) and Nuclear War, Nuclear Peace (1983).

He has also written influential essays spanning a broad range of topics that include culture, politics, religion, foreign policy, national security policy, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Middle East, humanitarian intervention and contemporary genocide — and that have been widely published in the United States and abroad.

He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards including Israel’s prestigious Dan David Prize in 2013 for being “a foremost writer and thinker who confronts and engages with the central issues of our times, setting the standard for serious cultural discussion in the United States.”

Wieseltier was educated at Columbia and Oxford, where he studied with Isaiah Berlin; he did advanced work on Jewish history and thought at Harvard.

In 1979 he became a member of Harvard’s Society of Fellows — an institution created to push back against the excessive specialization of the academy — and in 1983 he was appointed to the editorial position he has held for 30 years.

Wieseltier served as one of two keynote speakers at an international conference on “Zionism in the 21st Century: Contemporary Perspectives From and About Israel” that brought together 100 scholars from around the world on Feb. 17-18 at Brandeis University.

His lecture titled “Israel and America: Two Zions?” expands upon the impassioned remarks he made on that occasion.

The Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Foundation Endowed Symposia in Jewish Studies at UC Santa Barbara, a program of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, is co-sponsored by UCSB Arts & Lectures, the Department of Religious Studies, Congregation B’nai B’rith, the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Hillel.

 — Alena Nelson represents UCSB.

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