Haifa University opens a Polish Studies Center in Israel – IUPS
The Interdisciplinary center for Polish Studies is created to offer the Israeli public a path to familiarize themselves with contemporary Poland as well as the rich centuries-long Polish-Jewish relations.
Haifa University is opening an interdisciplinary center devoted to Polish studies. The center of Polish Studies (IUPS) will function under the Haifa University Faculty of Humanities with the support of the Department of Jewish History and with close cooperation with NAWA – the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange. Its goal is to increase the exposure Israelis have to knowledge about Poland and place the close relations between both cultures, Jewish and Polish, at the focus of a unique, first of its kind, interdisciplinary center that will reach far beyond the usual discourse about the trauma of the Holocaust. Thanks to the establishment of the IUPS, the University of Haifa will become a hub of research comprising the Polish language, history, culture, and Polish studies. It will become the first institution of this type in Israel.
“In-depth study of the relations between the states and peoples – Polish and Jewish – and the deep connection between them, is important for understanding processes between the states, for understanding the State of Israel and its establishment, and for understanding the interdependence between the peoples” explains Prof. Marcos Silber, an historian and the head of IUPS. “This study unit, which will be the first of its kind in Israel, will allow for dialogue and in-depth learning – the myths, prejudices, the historical past, cultural interdependence and more”.
The University of Haifa, with its campus on Mount Carmel, is the university that was the academic home of Szewach Weiss, Israel’s ambassador to Warsaw for many years. Up to the present agreement, a team of scholars and researchers working at the Department of Jewish History at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Haifa, in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland and the Polish Institute in Tel Aviv, thought Polish language and Polish history classes and developed scientific cooperation with Polish institutions. “Thanks to scholarships awarded as part of the activities of the emerging Unit, students and scientists from Israel and Poland will have the opportunity to obtain funding for research, not only associated with historical issues, but also with contemporary Polish culture and language” says the Director of NAWA, Dr. Grażyna Żebrowska.
“In place of a confrontational discourse, which is mostly founded on recurring historical topics and stereotypes, the center founders wish to push forth an Israeli shift in how Poland is perceived”, Acting Director of the Polish Institute Tel Aviv Katarzyna Dzierzawska said. “Both cultures, Jewish and Polish, existed along one another for centuries. The Jews saw Poland as a home and among both cultures deep relations were formed which still influence us today. It is hard even to imagine Polish history and culture without its Jewish connection, the goal of the new center is to offer the Israeli public a path to learn more about that home”.