JHU Panel Addresses "Do Jews Have A Future in Europe"

Fro L to R: Geoffrey Harris, Justin Geist, Benjamin Ginsberg, and Robert GuttmanThe question of whether Jews have a future in Europe is an, unfortunately, timely one, as anti-semitic attacks are increasingly taking place on European soil, most notably in Paris and most recently in Denmark.  A panel convened at JHU this afternoon to discuss what is happening in Europe and, if indeed, European Jewry should considering leaving Europe.  Benjamin Ginsberg, the Chair of the Center and David Bernstein Professor of Political Science at JHU, opened the discussion by reframing the question, noting that it is perhaps better to ask, "do Jews want to have a future in Europe?" because a lot of cities in Europe have become increasingly uncomfortable for Jews. That is, while the situation for Jews is nowhere near the level of say, the days preceding Kristallnacht, it is becoming abundantly clear that it is harder for Jews to be openly Jewish in Europe without being harassed.  Ginsberg offered three reasons behind the growing anti-semitism in Europe:

1) The rise in the Muslim population, the majority of which, as surveys show, dislike Jews.  The root of most of the anti-Jewish violence in Europe is done by Muslims, who are not as well integrated in European countries, as say, immigrants in the United States, thus they highly identify with causes from their home countries.

2)  The emergence of anti-zionist discourse, principally from the Left in Europe.  At the end of WW II, socialists in Europe supported the creation of the state of Israel, seeing it as the embodiment of the socialist vision.  There was a major shift among the European Left after the 1967 War, when Israel emerged as a regional power and as part of the US security empire.  The Left saw the arrival of Muslim immigrants in Europe as a source of power, mobilizing new voters by capitalizing on the one thing they had in common, anti-zionism. 

3) European welfare states have difficulty confronting violence, whereas radicalized Muslim groups make violence their recruiting tool.  Europeans in charge of police and security forces are unable to respond to serious violence.

Dr. Ginsberg concluded that he thinks Jews probably don't want to have a future in a Europe which requires that they hide their Jewishness to stay safe.  

Justin Geist, a professor at George Mason University, believed that you can't address the problem of Jews in Europe without connecting it to a broader question of do immigrants have a future in Europe?  By isolating attacks against Jews as primarily anti-semitic in nature, he argued, Europeans lose sight of the larger problem that they all must face.  For Geist, Europe may be uncomfortable for Jews, but it is also uncomfortable for all minorities, who are not absorbed and assimiliated into the culture.  Similarly, Geoffrey

A full room of over 45 attendees listened to the panel discussion

 Harris, the Deputy Head of the European Parliament Office with the US Congress believed that all minorities are experiencing difficulties in Europe.  He noted that anti-semitism is hardly new but is part of the Jewish experience in Europe.  The inoculation against anti-semitism of the post war years has now worn off, and Jews do have every reason to feel threatened he argued.  That said, he finds anti-semitism in Europe to be part of a larger problem or question:  "Is multiculutural Europe going to survive?" as he put it.  

The panel discussion was followed by a lively question and answer period in a room filled to capacity -- a very good exchange of views took place, led by moderator Robert Guttman, who teaches at both JHU and George Mason University.  


How does the FCC analyze millions of public comments?

The Government Analytics Breakfast Forum welcomed Charles Aaron, Deputy Chief Information Officer for the FCC.  Mr. Aaron spoke about how the FCC has collected millions of public comments related to net neutrality.  In the fall and summer of 2014, the FCC received 3.23 million comments from the web, email, post mail and faxes.  The FCC then partnered with analytics experts to translate this tremendous amount of unstructured textual data into quantitative information that could be analyzed, summarized and acted upon.

Mr. Aaron’s talk highlighted some of the many challenges associated with analyzing textual information.  For example, the FCC received a combination of unique comments and template comments.  Advocacy organizations frequently encourage citizens to send template comments to agencies, and the FCC has received hundreds of thousands of these “bulk comments” on net neutrality.  Should a template comment be treated the same way as a unique comment when calculating sentiment counts and other summary statistics?  Social media has increased the volume of bulk comments received by the FCC and other agencies, but it’s not always clear whether these comments are indicative of the true opinions of the senders (or the American citizenry as a whole).

Beyond addressing these analytical challenges, the FCC is also striving to improve the storage and sharing of public comments.  The FCC would like to make the public comments available in a form such that they can be analyzed by anyone versed in natural language processing.    

You can view the full presentation here.

Click here to view previous presentations from the GAB Forum. 


Climate Science Denial - MSNBC interview with MA Public Management alum

Tiffany Germain, @Tiffany_Germain, an alumnus of the MA in Public Management Program, was interviewed by MSNBC yesterday on a report she did for CAP on the majority of climate science deniers in Congress. Watch the interview here



Dr. Ginsberg on CSPAN

UPDATE: View a recording of the discussion here.
Tune in on January 18th at 1:30 ET and 10:30 PM ET to CSPAN's Book TV to see Dr. Benjamin Ginsberg, Chair of the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies, discuss his new book, The Worth of War.  The segment will also be viewable on the network's online video library.

About The Worth of War:
Although war is terrible and brutal, history shows that it has been a great driver of human progress. So argues political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg in this incisive, well-researched study of the benefits to civilization derived from armed conflict. Ginsberg makes a convincing case that war selects for and promotes certain features of societies that are generally held to represent progress. These include rationality, technological and economic development, and liberal forms of government (Prometheus Books).



JHU Center Hosts Roundtable on Internet Advocacy


Alan Rosenblatt, Dorothea Israel Wolfson, and Cameron Chisolm discussed how online platforms are revolutionizing higher education and career training
The Center for Advanced Governmental Studies hosted an Internet Advocacy Roundtable on Thursday.  Participants included Cameron Chisholm, President of International Peace & Security; Aine Fay, Operations Director of Concern Worldwide, and Dorothea Israel Wolfson, Program Director, JHU MA in Government.  Alan Rosenblatt, Senior Vice-President of Digital Strategy at Turner 4D was the moderator of the panel.  Cameron Chisolm discussed how International Peace & Security has increasingly used online training and online modules to provide training for their staff and stake-holders.  He discussed the pros and cons of using online modules and how participants from numerous organizations have benefited from them as well as some of the limits of the online platform as some of the nuances of some subject areas, such as teaching religious tolerance, are difficult to completely capture online to disparate audiences.  Dorothea Israel Wolfson discussed how the MA in Government Program has developed into an online leader in masters programs.  She shared some of the course offerings in the area of democracy and developmentthat have already reached an international audience of students, many of whom are able to continue their education solely because of online offerings.  Countries where students have taken her online classes range from China to Mongolia, to Turkey, Israel, Ecuador and Australia, to name just a few.   Aine Fay discussed how Concern Worldwide has developed low-bandwidth training programs for first responders so they may react quickly and effectively plug into the international relief infrastructure.  Some of the drawbacks of online training were discussed as well, such as how to better ensure retention rates of participants and to ensure that they are getting as much as they can from training modules.       

The Center offers fully online degree option in the MA in Government Program.  Other online programs include the MS in Governmental Analytics and the Certificate in Nonprofit Management and the Certificate in Intelligence Studies.  If you'd like to view the podcast, please go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_j6T0ZUyPs