Bay Areas only full-time Israel Studies professor gives his first lecture

Eran Kaplan, the only full-time Israel Studies professor on faculty at a university in the Bay Area, gave his inaugural lecture at San Francisco State University on Feb. 21.

Kaplan was hired in August 2011 as  the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair of Israel Studies at SFSU, a position that was endowed in 2008. He also works under the umbrella of the SFSU Jewish Studies department.

Eran Kaplan

His first lecture, “Israel’s Summer of Discontent: Social Protests, Nostalgia and the Future(s) of Zionism,” was a two-hour talk co-sponsored by Lehrhaus Judaica and the JCC of San Francisco, where the lecture took place.

After being introduced by SFSU President Robert Corrigan, Kaplan walked students and community members through an analysis of the social protests that shook Israel’s urban centers last  summer.

“I’m interested in seeing if they signify something beyond the immediate demands,” said Kaplan, a Tel Aviv native, in summing up the theme of his lecture. “Israel is one of the most interesting examples of a place that has seen a shift from collectivism and a state-controlled economy to a free-market, individualistic society. In the new century, with the new crises we face, I’m curious if the protests were in part about longing, in a sense, yearning for the security the old system once provided.”

Kaplan came to SFSU following a three-year tenure at Princeton University.

Next semester, he plans to teach classes on the Arab-Israeli conflict, modern Israeli society and Israeli film, he said. He is also helping to arrange visits from Israeli scholars and experts, such as Ha’aretz journalist Avirama Golan, who was in the Bay Area this week speaking at several locations. — emma silvers