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Considering Israelism: A Screening and Panel Discussion

General Programming

dateFebruary 5, 2024 timeMonday, 6:30pm–8:30pm EST location Altschul Hall, Barnard College
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Audience open exclusively to Columbia faculty, graduate instructors, graduate students, undergraduate students, and students
  • Registration required. See details.
Still from the film Israelism

Open to BC/CU ID holders only. Find a campus map and other accessibility accommodations here. Doors open at 6:00pm.

The film Israelism (2023) follows two American Jews as their relationship to Israel changes as they learn about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

This panel discussion will feature Simone Zimmerman, the subject of the film; Nadia Saah, producer of the film; Dr. Helga Tawil-Souri, Associate Professor of Middle East and Islamic Studies at NYU, and Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster ‘01. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Yannik Thiem, Associate Professor, Department of Religion at Columbia.


Simone Zimmerman is an organizer and strategist from Los Angeles, currently living in Brooklyn. She is currently the Communications Director for the Diaspora Alliance, an international organization dedicated to fighting antisemitism and its instrumentalization by promoting the values of a multiracial democracy. Zimmerman is also a co-founder of IfNotNow, a grassroots movement of American Jews working to end the American Jewish community's support for Israel's apartheid system. She is an emerging thought leader on the Jewish left and is a member of the Jewish Currents Advisory Board and the JFREJ Action Board of Directors.

Nadia Saah is a Palestinian-American media professional, producer and activist, with decades of experience in entertainment and educational media, from Discovery Communications to Warner to Nintendo, and with credits on highly acclaimed Palestinian projects including “Mo” on Netflix, the Oscar nominated feature Omar, the Oscar nominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras, Speed Sisters, Amreeka, and Miral. She also served as the Deputy Director of the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU). Most recently, Nadia launched Project48 to broaden awareness of the Palestinian Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe) in the US.

Helga Tawil-Souri is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication and the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU. Helga’s work deals with spatiality, technology, infrastructure and politics in the Middle East, with a particular focus on contemporary life in Palestine. Much of her published academic work has been about Palestinian im/mobility and infrastructure, which has taken checkpoints, mobile phones and internet, film, and questions of borders and space as its focal points. She has also written about Arab media, identification cards, surveillance, video games, and other topics. She is the co-editor of the book Gaza As Metaphor (2016) and an upcoming volume titled Producing Palestine: Representational (Im)possibilities (out in Fall).

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster (she/her) is Executive Vice President at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), working with faith and values-based investors to catalyze their assets for social change. Before joining ICCR in 2021, Rachel spent nearly fourteen years at T’ruah: The Rabbinical Call for Human Rights, most recently as Deputy Director. Ordained in 2008 from the Jewish Theological Seminary, she is a noted speaker and writer on Judaism and human rights. She first came to T’ruah in 2007 to organize against U.S-sponsored torture in the war on terror. She initiated campaigns against human trafficking and forced labor, to end solitary confinement, to fight against mass incarceration, and for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories. Rachel is the original #tomatorabbi, having spearheaded T’ruah’s critical partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida. Rachel lives in Teaneck, New Jersey, with her husband, Dr. Paul Pelavin, and their daughters Liora and Aliza.

Yannik Thiem is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Columbia University and teaches critical theory, feminist theory, and queer theory at the intersection with religious studies. They are especially interested in exploring “religion” and “queerness” not exclusively as traditions or identities, but also as sites where affects and histories converge and sediment in what we might call “infrastructures of experience” that orient how we experience and interact with the world around us. Their second book Ripples of Redemptive Time: The Ethics and Politics of Temporality in Hermann Cohen and Walter Benjamin is under contract with Fordham UP, but slightly delayed by Long Covid imposing its own temporality on Yannik. In the meantime – slowly – Yannik has also started working on a new project entitled Politics of Affect: Race, Religion, Sex and Other Monsters drawing on queer and trans theory, religious studies, critical race theory, and disability studies.