The tour is sponsored by Hillel International as an opportunity to spark conversation among staff and students. Shavit is known as one of Israel’s foremost social and political commentators for his work as a columnist and editorial board member for Haaretz. His book has been praised for its honest, passionate narrative that examines the state of Israel with true complexity and personal immediacy. “To have a speaker of this magnitude is huge for KU,” shared Jay Lewis, executive director of KU Hillel.
KU seniors and student organizers, Nikki Multer and Eli Seidman are excited about Shavit’s visit. “I think it’s a great opportunity to hear a balanced opinion from a relevant Israeli,” Seidman explained. “I hope it will get people talking at KU.” Multer goes one step further. “Sometimes I think Israel is passed over for more important issues, but we need to have this conversation.” Both are reading Shavit’s new book and are impressed with Shavit’s fair-minded approach. “I don’t agree with everything,” says Seidman, “but I think what he’s saying is important.”
Seidman and Multer especially feel the need for a balanced narrative of Israel after their recent trip there through KU Hillel’s Israel Leadership Mission (ILM). “We got to see a part of Israel that isn’t in the tourbook,” Multer explains. She feels Shavit’s visit could help bring that nuanced perspective to Kansas “which would be great.”
Lewis sees this event “as an incredible opportunity for the community.” For KU Hillel, much of this event is about engagement. Shavit’s visit to KU will be co-sponsored by a variety of on-campus groups including the Jewish Studies Department, Political Science Department, Jayhawks for Israel, Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity, and Chabad at KU. Earlier in the day, Shavit will talk with students from ILM, and students in the Jewish Studies department. Students, staff, and members of the public are encouraged to attend and speak with Shavit after the evening talk.
Please do not be concerned that we failed to notice that Ari Shavit's talk will be taking place on Erev Purim. We noticed. The choice was between having Ari Shavit on Erev Purim, or not having him at all, but that doesn't mean that we've cancelled Purim. After Shavit's talk, we will be joining our friends from Chabad for a energetic evening Purim celebration at the Oread Hotel. On Purim day, students can celebrate and hear the reading of the Megillah at 4:30 p.m. at Hillel.