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Record Turnout at Iran Conference



Record Turnout at Academic Conference on Iran and the Jews


There was a record turnout at the two-day academic international conference at Beit Hatfutsot entitled The Heritage of the Past and the Challenges of the Future.  The conference was held in conjunction with the highly acclaimed exhibition sponsored by the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation, Light and Shadows: The Story of Iran and the Jews, and with additional generous support from the David Berg Foundation, Diamond Charity Foundation, Global Mashadi Jewish Federation, Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York, Maccabi Foundation and individual philanthropists, members of the Iranian Jewish community as well as other Jewish communities.


 This conference, which was held on January 3 - 4, 2011, was organized by Beit Hatfutsot and the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University. The first day of the conference, entitled The Jews of Iran: An Ancient Diaspora Reflected through the Generations, focused on presenting the 2,700 year history and multifaceted character of Iranian Jewry.  It provided insight into the community's roots, history, heritage and culture. Various sessions were held including: The Jews on Iranian Soil; The Jews of Iran in Recent Generations; Art, Material Culture, and Folklore; and Iranian Cinema.


The second day of the conference, In the Shadow of Nuclear Threat: Iran, the Middle East, and the West addressed contemporary Iran.  The different sessions included: Iranian Civil Society: Between Ayatollahs and the Internet; Iran: From False Omnipotence to Stark Vulnerability; The International Community and Iran; Addressing the Iranian Nuclear Challenge: The Military Option vs. Political and Economic Measures. 


Leading academics, community leaders, and diplomats addressed the conference. Speakers included Prof. David Menashri, Prof. David Yeroushalmi, Dr. Houman Sarshar, Mrs. Homa Sarshar, Ambassador Efraim Halevi, Mr. Ehud Yaari, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Eitan Ben-Eliahu, Lt. Gen (Res.) MK Shaul Mofaz, MK Tzipi Livni, and Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. (Res.) Ehud Barak.


The conference reflected the dual themes of the Light and Shadows exhibition by addressing both the history of Iran and Iranian Jewry, and Iran and its Jewish community in the 20th century. The conference and exhibition represents the comprehensive multiethnic and pluralist approach of the renewed Beit Hatfutsot.  According to Avinoam Armoni, CEO of Beit Hatfutsot, "This is the first time that the story of Iranian Jews has been presented in such breathe and depth. This undoubtedly marks an important milestone in the transformation of Beit Hatfutsot into an international center for Jewish communities worldwide."




Minister of Defense Ehud Barak (Beit Hatfutsot, January 2011)


MK Tzipi Livni (Beit Hatfutsot, January 2011)


Mr. Younes Nazarian, MK Shaul Mofaz, CEO Avinoam Armoni

(Beit Hatfutsot, January 2011)


Ms. Irit Perlman, Director BH Israel Friends, with Ambassador Efraim Halevi


Dr. Sharon Nazarian-Baradaran, President, Y& S Nazarian Family Foundation


MK Shaul Mofaz (Beit Hatfutsot, January 2011)


Maj.Gen. (res.) Eitan Ben-Eliahu, Chairman of the Exhibition Light and Shadows 


 Mr. Younes Nazarian, Minister Ehud Barak, Maj.Gen. (res.) Eitan Ben-Eliyahu


Dr. Irving Finkel from the British Museum



Mr.  Ehud Yaari, Journalist, Israel Channel 2 

(Beit Hatfutsot, January 2011)