ADL hires Jewish-Iranian academic to head international affairs unit

WASHINGTON — The Anti-Defamation League named Sharon Nazarian, an Iranian-American-Jewish academic and philanthropist, as its senior vice president of international affairs on Wednesday.

In that position, Nazarian will head the Jewish civil rights group’s work combating anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred worldwide. She will be based out of Los Angeles, but will also oversee the ADL’s Israel office in Jerusalem.

She comes into her new job after spending most of her career in academia, with an emphasis on international politics.

A longtime adjunct in the political science department at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Nazarian is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Sharon’s depth and breadth of experience in academia, philanthropy, policy and international affairs makes her the perfect fit to lead ADL’s international efforts,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

Nazarian, who was born in Iran and immigrated to the United States at a young age with her Persian Jewish family, has strong ties to Israel and the Jewish community.

Through her philanthropic work, she has sat on the Board of Governors of Haifa University and the boards of HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University.

At UCLA, she founded the Younes & Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and was chair of its advisory board.

Nazarian said in a statement Wednesday that the ADL is “needed now more than ever — both in the United States and abroad — to stand up against hate and bigotry.”

The organization’s international affairs division primarily works with global partners to develop programs and resources that address anti-Semitism worldwide, along with hate crimes, cyber hate and the delegitimization of Israel.

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