Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair in Israel Studies

Chair Holder: Professor Emanuel Adler

University of Toronto

The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair of Israeli Studies was created in 1997 to provide leadership in the study of modern Israeli politics and society. In 2001 Emanuel Adler, an expert in international relations and conflict resolution, became the first Chair Holder. Until 2005, Professor Adler divided his time between the University of Toronto (U of T) and the Department of International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Currently Professor Adler is permanently affiliated on a full-time basis with the Department of Political Science at U of T. Professor Adler is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the European Academy of Science, an Honorary Professor at the University of Copenhagen, a Senior Fellow at Massey College and a member of the Board of the Association for Israel Studies. Until recently, Professor Adler was also editor of International Organization, the leading journal of International Relations.


The main objective of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair of Israeli Studies is  turning U of T into a leading North American center of Israeli Studies.  With this objective in mind, Professor Adler frames the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair’s activities around the subject of Israeli Identity, which encourage studying Israel from a multidisciplinary perspective. Sociologists, political scientists, and philosophers, who teach courses on Israel at U of T as part of the Bronfman Chair’s program, capture in their own ways Israel’s past, present, and future sense of self, as well as their visions of the future for Israel.


Main undergraduate Course

Professor Adler’s third year undergraduate course, entitled Becoming Israel: War, Peace, and the Politics of Israel’s Identity,” is taught once a year to approximately seventy students. The course best portrays the important role identity plays in Israeli politics, society, and national security. In 2012-13, while Professor Adler was on sabbatical, the course was given by Professor Oded Haklai, from Queen’s University.


Andrea and Charles Bronfman Lecture in Israeli Studies

The Bronfman Lectures of Israeli Studies began in 2002 with Professor Adler’s inaugural lecture, entitled “Changing Identities: The Role to Peace.” Past Bronfman lecturers also include Professor Yaron Ezrahi, Professor Naomi Chazan, Professor Menachem Brinker, and Professor Arie Shachar, Former Chief Justice Professor Aharon Barak, acclaimed writer, David Grosman, Professor Rafi Melnick, Professor Vered Vintisky-Seroussi, and many more. Past Bronfman lecturers include Professor Dan Avnon, Haaretz Senior Correspondent Ari Shavit, Professor Itzhak Ben Israel, Professor Carlo Strenger, Dr Eli Levite, Professor Manuel Trachtenberg, and Professor Eva Illouz.


Short Courses

Israeli scholars are invited to give intensive short courses on Israel at the Department of Political Science. Past course lecturers include anthropologist Professor Danni Rabinowitz, who taught about the Palestinian citizens of Israel; political scientist Professor Yaron Ezrahi, who taught about democratic theory and Israeli political practice; philosopher Professor Menachem Brinker (Israel Price recipient), who taught about the ideological transformations of Jewish self-understanding leading to the State of Israel; political scientist Professor Gad Barzilai, who taught about multiculturalism, law, and public policy in Israel, historian Professor Eyal Naveh, who taught about the historiography of Israeli identity, and Professor Shlomo Avineri, who taught about Zionism and Israeli identity.


Guest Speakers

The Bronfman Chair of Israeli Studies also promotes invited guest speakers. For example, Professor Alan Dowty  lectured about  “The Fourth Stage of the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” , Dr. Avner Cohen spoke on “Israel Bargain with the Bomb,” acclaimed writer A. B. Yehoshua spoke on “From Mythology to History,” and Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer spoke on “Revolution, Repression and Reconciliation: The Arab Awakening and the Prospects for Peace.”


Student Exchange Program

The Bronfman Chair also promotes a yearly student exchange with Hebrew University. The exchange consists of  fifteen MA students from U of T who travel to Israel every year to take a course on the Middle East and Israel, which is currently being taught by Professor Arie Kacowicz



U of T students wishing to do research on Israel (in Israel or Canada) may apply to the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Student Awards. The Bronfman Chair offers a prize of $2,000 for the best article written while doing research in Israel. Yet another prize is awarded to the best student (s) in the class “Becoming Israel.” Additionally, Ph.D. students can qualify for departmental and other funds to help them defray dissertation-related expenses.


Research Projects

In February 2007, the Bronfman Chair held a closed workshop at the Munk Centre for International Studies on the question “Is There a Rational Solution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict?” Attended by leading world experts on rationality and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, the workshop discussed the obstacles to a rational solution of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. In conjunction with the workshop, Professor Thomas C. Schelling (2005 Nobel Price Laureate), spoke on “Rational Choice and Some of Its Alternatives;” Professor Daniel Kahneman (2002 Nobel Prize Laureate), spoke on “Rationality: A Psychological Perspective,” and Professor Jon Elster, spoke on “Rational Choice Theory-Hubris or Common Sense?” These lectures were followed by a roundtable on rationality and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which was chaired by Professor Janice Gross Stein


In 2010, the Chair of Israeli Studies hosted the 26th meeting of the Association for Israel Studies in Toronto. With the attendance of three hundred and thirty scholars, the conference was a great success, thus helping to place the Bronfman Chair of Israeli Studies on the map of centers of Israel Studies in North America. The theme of the conference was “Israel in the World.” In addition to more than one hundred panels that were convened to discuss academic papers on Israel, Professor Michael Walzer gave a keynote speech on “The State of Israel and the Negation of Exile.” The subject of “Israel in the World” was further discussed in a preliminary session, with the participation of Professor Michael Barnett, Professor Naomi Chazan, Professor Janice Stein, Haaretz Senior Journalist Zvi Bar’el, and Rabbi Michael Melchior. The conference was concluded by a special public lecture by Professor Ruth Gavison, who spoke about “Israel among Nations: Between Normalcy and Exceptionalism.”



Two of the chapters of Emanuel Adler’s book, Communitarian International Relations, published by  Routledge, deal with Israeli identity. Another book within the framework of the Bronfman Chair, which was edited and partly written by Professor Emanuel Adler—The Convergence of Civilizations: Constructing a Mediterranean Region—was published by University of Toronto Press in 2006. In  2012, Emanuel Adler published with Routledge an edited book, entitled Israel in the World: Legitimacy and Exceptionalism, which was partly based on the conference of the Association for Israel Studies that took place in Toronto in 2010. Emanuel Adler has also published articles on Israel and the Middle East, including “Damned if you Do, Damned if You Don’t: Performative Power and the Strategy of Conventional and Nuclear Defusing, Security Studies (2010).,

Future  Goals

To attract MA and Ph.D. students in the field of Israeli Studies, the Chair of Israeli Studies will promote increasing the number of Israeli Studies courses given at U of T every year. This action is expected to encourage the establishment of a network of Israeli scholars and Canadian students interested in Israeli Studies and increase the number of U of T students wanting and needing to do research in Israel on behalf of our program.  In addition,, the Chair of Israeli Studies intends to intensify the exchange among researchers between the University of Toronto and Israeli Academic institutions, such as the Hebrew University and the Interdisciplinary College in Herzliya. The long term goal is to creating an academic consortium between the University of Toronto and Israeli academic institutions. The Chair will continue inviting prominent speakers to talk at the University of Toronto, organizing short courses, as well as conferences and workshops, on topics related to Israel.

Back to top