Sunday, 29 September 2013

Indian Scholar joins the Advisory Board of the Jerusalem Press Club

Weekly Press Pakistan, September 16, 2013

Editor International of the English section of the Weekly Press Pakistan, Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi has joined the international advisory board of the Jerusalem Press Club, founded in 2013 to promote freedom of the press and support journalistic democracy in the Middle East. Taking notice of his researches in Indo-Judaic Studies and work for Jewish-Muslim reconciliation, the leadership of the Jerusalem Press Club invited him to join its international advisory board, which is being built to compliment the work of its Israeli Advisory Board and bring global perspectives and a spirit of worldwide collaboration to the Jerusalem Press Club. Its Israeli Advisory Board is chaired by the former Israeli minister Dan Meridor, one of the most respected people in Israel today. Other members of the Israeli Advisory Board include Professor Gadi Wolfsfeld, world-renowned communications expert; David Witztum, leading anchor at Israel Television Chanel 1; Hirsh Goodman, veteran correspondent and former editor of the Jerusalem Report; Professor Eva Ilouz, President of Bezalel Academy of Art and world renowned sociologist and Dr. Tehila Altshuler, expert on new media.
As the first-ever institution of its kind in the Middle East, the Jerusalem Press Club aims to be a destination for local and foreign reporters, diplomats and opinion-makers to convene, share and learn about the most pressing issues in the region. Its goal is to present a diverse and fair view of the Middle East that incorporates all aspects of the political, economic and social components that make up this fascinating region.

The Jerusalem Press Club, a project of the Jerusalem Foundation, was established with a grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, which over the last few years has donated close to $100 million to Israeli institutions, particularly for medical and scientific research.

The club is positioned to support the next generation of media professionals, teaching the complexities of covering news in the Middle East. The Jerusalem Press Club recently hosted a group of journalism students from the University of Miami, in cooperation with IDC Herzliya, one of Israel’s leading colleges. During the month-long for-credit program, the students interned at news organizations in the region and took courses at IDC. The club hopes to expand this cooperation to other Universities in the future.

The club has several state-of-the art broadcasting facilities, meeting rooms, lodging where journalists can stay overnight, and a world-class restaurant. Members of the JPC also have reciprocity at European Federation of Press Clubs and the International Association of Press Clubs.

The press club is situated in the historic Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhood and overlooks the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, a symbolic location that for decades served as a gathering place for artists, scholars and writers from around the world.  Established in 1860, Mishkenot Sha’ananim was founded by philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore to be the sight of revolutionary thinking and world-changing ideas. 150 years later, the Jerusalem Press Club is building upon Sir Moses Montefiore’s vision to become the new intellectual hub of the Middle East. 

 Over the years it envisions many stories will be shared, formed and broken at its press center. With more than 250 foreign journalists stationed in Israel at any time, it hopes to become a central location for resource sharing by offering state-of-the-art broadcasting facilities and accommodations including Touro, the press club’s restaurant and bar which enables members to relax and hold meetings.

Dr. Aafreedi will provide counsel to the Jerusalem Press Club, attend its annual meetings (or participate in tele-conferences) to help set the yearly agenda, discuss future programming and offer consultation as-needed. He also serves as an assistant editor of the refereed journal The Social Ion and as a member of the editorial board of the peer reviewed Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies and of the international advisory board of the Asian Jewish Life. Assistant Professor at Gautam Buddha University in Greater NOIDA, India, Dr. Aafreedi has been a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Muslim-Jewish Relations at the Woolf Institute in Cambridge, UK, Graduate School of Historical Studies at Tel Aviv University in Israel, School of Languages and Cultures, University of Sydney in Australia and would be returning to Australia next month as a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Asian Studies in Brisbane.  Currently in the US as a participant at the International Educator Institute at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, (September 15 to 20, 2013), Dr. Aafreedi has been sincerely and relentlessly making serious efforts for years to achieve Muslim-Jewish reconciliation and to create an awareness of the Holocaust in India. The first ever Holocaust films retrospective in South Asia, held in his hometown Lucknow (a major centre of Muslim scholarship) in Uttar Pradesh, India, in 2009, was one of the many events he organized.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Indian Holocaust Educator to attend Educator Institute at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Weekly Press Pakistan, September 3, 2013

Truly committed to raising an awareness of the Holocaust in India and to combating Holocaust denial, Indo-Judaic Studies researcher and Muslim-Jewish Relations Activist, Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi would be the only Indian to attend the International Educator Institute at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, when it takes place from 16th to 20th September, 2013. Last year in June, he conducted an educational workshop at an International conference on Holocaust education at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel, on how to educate the Indians about the Holocaust.

Inspired and motivated by him, the students at the Gautam Buddha University in Greater Noida, India, where he teaches as an Assistant Professor, have produced a Hindi play on the Holocaust, which they will enact later during the year. It is the story of the horrors of the Holocaust as witnessed by the soldiers of the Indian legion of Hitler, which had been raised by the Indian nationalist leader Subash Chandra Bose by recruiting soldiers from the Prisoner-of-War camps in Germany which, at that time, were home to tens of thousands of Indian soldiers of the British Indian army captured by Rommel in North Africa. Bose intended to use this army to liberate India from the British rule. 

Thanks to Dr. Aafreedi’s efforts, South Asia had its first ever Holocaust films retrospective in 2009 at the Lucknow University and the Ambedkar University in Lucknow, a major centre of Muslim scholarship, in Uttar Pradesh, India. This Holocaust Films Retrospective becomes all the more significant considering the fact that just three years before, a conference, “Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision”, aimed at denying the Holocaust had taken place in Tehran from the 11th to the 12th of December, 2006. And, now this Holocaust films retrospective got organized, not far away in the Judeo-Christian West, but in close proximity to Iran, in one of the major Shia cultural centres of the world, Lucknow, right in the centre of the Muslim heartland of South Asia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population. Lucknow was also home to the ancestors of the leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, Ayatollah Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini. His ancestors had settled there in the late eighteenth century and continued to live there till the mid-nineteenth century when his grandfather, Seyed Ahmad, migrated to Iran and settled in Khomein, some 160 kilometres to the southwest of Qom.

While the films retrospective was in progress, the two most popular Urdu newspapers there, Rashtriya Sahara and Aag tried to sabotage it by publishing front-page lengthy stories denying the Holocaust and terming it the biggest hoax of the twentieth century. But this did not hamper the enthusiasm of Dr. Aafreedi, who passionately screened forty-eight Holocaust films in a span of fourteen days and even got a number of Muslim intellectuals to speak against Holocaust denial. He also organized a number of book readings focusing on the Holocaust. He continued with his efforts to educate the youth about the Holocaust even after he moved to Greater Noida, where he joined the Gautam Buddha University in 2010. As a member of its cultural council, Dr. Aafreedi screened a number of films on the Holocaust and gave impassioned lectures on it.

For years he has been building a library of Jewish Studies. He intends to give free courses on the Holocaust and Jewish History under the auspices of the organization he is trying to establish, whose registration is currently stuck in the red tape of the Indian officialdom.