War and International Ethics

The Center's engagement with war and international ethics began with its first Scholar-in-Residence Michael Walzer. Professor Walzer, perhaps the most influential living thinker on Just War theory, gave public lectures and seminars on war and terrorism, war and Jewish law, and the Lebanon War. The following academic year, Danny Statman, an eminent Israeli philosopher and religious scholar, talked about dirty hands in politics and conscientious objection in Israel. The Center has also sponsored or co-sponsored a number of panels on ethics in international affairs, on such topics as war, torture and terror; the global slave trade; and the role of U.S. foreign policy in global reproductive health.

Additionally, the Center introduced a course titled "Philosophical and Jewish Perspectives on Ethics and War." Co-taught by Center Director Adrienne Asch and Rabbi Shalom Carmy of the Yeshiva College Bible and Jewish Philosophy departments, the course offered Yeshiva College and Stern College students an overview on difficult questions of morality and ethics in the conduct of conventional and asymmetrical warfare, with several distinguished guest lecturers. Classes alternated between campuses, employing innovative technology that permitted students at both campuses to participate in each class. The course culminated in an intensive program during January intersession at the Jerusalem Center for Ethics, where students attended seminars and lectures with Israeli rabbis and scholars, public officials, soldiers and political leaders, representing a diverse range of approaches and perspectives. Students also experienced ethical issues firsthand, traveling to military checkpoints on the West Bank.