Truman News


The Truman Newsletter Newsletter #3, December 2020

From the Director's Desk

We were hoping that by now social distancing and talk of Covid-19 would be in the past tense, but we are not quite there yet. While vaccines are in the air and in the making, we have begun to understand that life will never be the same as it was prior to the pandemic. Some changes may be for the better - less driving, less pollution, less time wasted on the road - while many others are for the worse: job losses, loneliness, home not always being a safe haven. We are certainly living the curse "may you live in interesting times".
In trying to respond to the challenge, as well as to advocate the issues at the center of our agenda, the Truman Institute held five webinars between March and November 2020.  Each webinar was dedicated to a different topic and attracted hundreds of participants through various digital platforms. Let me share with you some of the observations from the last one which aired in November addressing internal conflicts and a cultural trauma -- the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Israel's Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin.  Titled "Twenty-Five Years Later: Where We Were And Where We Are Today", the webinar hosted five scholars from five different disciplines and backgrounds.
Prof. Eran Halperin (Psychology, Hebrew University and founder of aChord Center) presented some troubling data on the level of hatred between various groups in Israeli. Mainly (but not only) people with right-wing views expressed readiness to initiate acts of violence against people with left-wing views and against politicians with whom they disagree.   
Dr. Gili Zivan (the Mandel Leadership Program) introduced two contrasting trends within the Zionist-religious group following the assassination; one of which explores ways into mainstream Israeli secular society while the other cultivates segregation, radicalism and estrangement.

Dr. Yusri Khaizran (Truman Institute) pointed out that despite the fact that Israeli Arabs supported Rabin during his second term, Jewish society did not recognize their grief over his assassination and did not include them in the circles of mourning. By doing so, it lost an opportunity to find common ground.

Prof. Raya Morag (Communication and Journalism, Hebrew University) focused on the lack of films on the assassination.  Morag believes that the national trauma of the assassination has not yet been socially and culturally represented and dealt with in Israel.
Our last speaker, Prof. Hizki Shoham (Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies, Bar Ilan University and Hartman Institute) said that interest in marking the Memorial Day for the assassination is waning and that a different mnemonic format needs to be found.  Shoham suggested that a wise solution would be to use an existing Jewish tradition, such as a fast, to commemorate the day.

Credit: Bruno Charbit

Last but not least, we recently hosted the Director and a member of the Board of Trustees of Bahrain's King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence on our roof overlooking the entire city of Jerusalem. Let us hope that these new winds and connections will eventually bring peace and justice to our region and our conflicts – both internally and externally.
Happy Holiday Season,
Vered and the Truman Team


Meet our Graduate Students 

Rawan Nasser is a doctoral student in The Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is one of the first cohort of the Truman School for Peace Studies.
Rawan's research examines the deep-rooted meaning of the Nakba from the mindset of Palestinians, specifically Palestinians originating from a city named Lydda. The aim of the research is to examine the lived experience of being uprooted and forced into political violence, while enduring continued trauma and a continuous sense of displacement. The research includes 35 interviews with Palestinian refugees from first and second generation of the Nakba.

In her Master's research, Rawan examined the experience of Palestinian children from East Jerusalem who had been arrested and detained, the effect of the arrest and detention on their psyche and lives, and their ways of coping with these effects. The research assumed that arrest and detention are part of the political violence that the Palestinians in East Jerusalem are subjected to in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Rawan was born in Nazareth and moved to Jerusalem in 2010. She has worked for many years as a social worker in the welfare system with Palestinian children at risk in East Jerusalem. She is also a lecturer at the Department of Early Education at David Yellin Academic College of Education, and is currently working on her first article on trauma and refugees. Rawan lives in East Jerusalem with her partner, who is a neurologist resident at Assaf Harofeh hospital.

A Taste of our Research Projects 

Omri Grinberg (PhD, Anthropology and Jewish Studies – University of Toronto, 2019) is a 2nd year postdoctoral fellow at the Truman Institute. With Dr. Yael Berda (Hebrew University & Harvard Kennedy School), he is conducting research about COVID-19’s influence on Israel’s bureaucratic regulation of Palestinian work and travel permits.

Their focus is on a significant change in policy that occurred due to the pandemic: Since 1967, Israel had a strict policy of not allowing Palestinians laborers from the West Bank and Gaza working within the “Green Line” to remain overnight in Israel. In March 2020, when Israel and the Palestinian Authority began responding to COVID-19, a radical shift occurred: some 40,000 Palestinian laborers, mainly in construction, were given permits to stay in Israel for the duration of the lockdown. If the laborers would choose (or forced to) return home during this time, they would lose their work permits.

The study, funded by the Truman Institute, draws insights that go beyond the Israel/Palestine case. As Grinberg and Berda suggest, shifts in state policies and procedures due to the biological state of emergency should be analyzed not as a break or disruption, but rather as a telling – albeit altered – continuity. When examined as such, responses to COVID-19 force state and economic actors to contend with key agendas. Due to a sense of crisis, these contentions reveal elements that are otherwise (in non-pandemic times) obscured through rhetoric and sanctions. This research field is thus useful for understanding the nexus of economic interests, state bureaucracy, and national ideology.

Omri cherishes the Truman Institute’s work environment, the administrative and academic faculty’s support, and the professional and social interactions of the graduate students’ and postdoctoral fellows’ cohort.




The Truman News journal provides a chance for the public to glimpse into the academic, research and events that take place in the institute for an entire year. Ranging from dignitary visits of Prime Ministers and Presidents of countries, through academic conferences and projects to new publications and initiatives coming from Truman researchers. Truman News gives a small taste of an entire year's work and effort performed by both academic and administrative personnel at the institute.

Truman News 2017

Truman News 2016

Truman News 2015