Israel Studies Seminar podcast

Israel Studies Seminar

Oxford University

Running weekly during Term time, the Israel Studies Seminar is the primary setting for public discussions on a wide spectrum of issues relating to Israeli society, history, politics and culture in the University of Oxford. With an international list of speakers, it has been attracting much attention and a growing audience participation. The seminar is convened by Prof. Yaacov Yadgar, the Stanley Lewis Professor of Israel Studies, based at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies and the Department of Politics and International Relation. The seminar is hosted by the Middle East Centre at St. Antony’s College. For more details, see the Seminar’s website here:

54 Episoden

  • Israel Studies Seminar podcast

    Atalia Omer - Pathways toward a Jewish Israeli Restorative Ethics


    Atalia Omer discusses restorative justice practices and the possibilities (and limits) of Jewish critiques of Zionism. In the same way that it is no longer possible to talk about antisemitism without also thinking about Israel/Palestine, it is no longer possible to imagine Jewish ethics outside the realities of Jewish power. My focus here is on when such thinking unfolds through a restorative justice prism or carries a restorative justice potential. At stake is not only a Jewish critique of Zionism, but also justice for Palestinians. The two issues are forever enmeshed. Examining Judith Butler’s relational ethical analysis of Zionism in her Parting Ways and Michael Manekin’s recent The Dawn of Redemption, I argue that, to the degree that restorative justice practices are missing from ethical Jewish reflections on Zionism and Israelism, the sources of such Jewish critiques of Zionism remain diasporic. Butler approaches it from the comfort of diasporic “authenticity,” while Manekin reclaims a Jewish (Israeli) ethics from within the realities of Jewish Israeliness and with an effort to reimagine religious Zionism as gentle and kind. At the same time, focusing on Jewish Israeli restorative justice practices and potentials, including Zochrot, young “refusniks,” and the petition of Jewish Israelis against Israel apartheid propelled by the escalation of violence in May 2021, offers a pathway for unsettling the diasporic as the primary source of ethical critique of Israelism. These restorative pathways constitute sources for Jewish ethics from the ground up where the experiences of Jewish power and Israelism can no longer be bracketed or magically theorized out of existence as “inauthentic.” Atalia Omer is a Professor of Religion, Conflict, and Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and at the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame in the United States. She is also the Dermot T.J. Dunphy Visiting Professor of Religion, Violence, and Peace Building at Harvard University and a senior fellow at the Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative at Harvard University’s Religion and Public Life program. She earned her PhD in Religion, Ethics, and Politics (2008) from the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University. Her research focuses on religion, violence, and peacebuilding with a particular focus on Palestine/Israel as well as theories and methods in the study of religion. Omer was awarded an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship in 2017 to complete a manuscript titled Decolonizing Religion and Peacebuilding. Among other publications, Omer is the author of When Peace is Not Enough: How the Israeli Peace Camp Thinks about Religion, Nationalism, and Justice (University of Chicago Press, 2015) and Days of Awe: Reimagining Jewishness in Solidarity with Palestinians (University of Chicago Press, 2019). She is also a co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding (Oxford University Press, 2015).
  • Israel Studies Seminar podcast

    Reconsidering Early Jewish Nationalist Ideologies Seminar: Elana Shapira: Berta Zuckerkandl and Her Circle: Austrian Nationalism and Zionism in Viennese Modernism


    Elana Shapira discusses the tangled relationship between Austrian Nationalism and Zionism in Viennese Modernism Berta Zuckerkandl grew up witnessing her father, publisher of the newspaper Neues Wiener Tagblatt, Moritz Szeps’s stormy career and political engagements. Moritz Szeps was a close advisor to the liberal Austrian Crown Prince Rudolf and a supporter of an Austria-France alliance through his connections with liberal French politicians such as Léon Gambetta and Georges Clemenceau. Clemenceau’s brother, Paul, married Szeps’s eldest daughter Sophie. Berta also became involved in political causes. Learning about the “Dreyfus affair” at her sister’s salon, Zuckerkandl supported the fight to recognize his innocence. For Berta Zuckerkandl, the city of Vienna would become hers to form. Among the guests in the early days of Zuckerkandl’s renowned salon were non-Jewish cultural critic and Zionist Hermann Bahr. Other members in her salon associated with the Zionist movement were authors Richard Beer-Hofmann and Felix Salten of the literary group “Jung Wien” (Young Vienna), and who also played critical roles in shaping Viennese modernism. Working with her colleagues Bahr and the critic Ludwig Hevesi, Zuckerkandl raised the flag for modern Austrian art within a conservative and provincial cultural climate. She promoted modern design as part of constructing a progressive Austrian national identification. This talk aims to explore the antisemitic background and the pluralistic character of Austrian nationalism and Zionism, as they developed in the early years in relation to each other within and in relation to Zuckerkandl’s cultural networks. Speaker Bio: Elana Shapira is cultural and design historian and project leader of the Austrian Science Fund research project “Visionary Vienna: Design and Society 1918–1934” (2017-2021). She is a senior postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in Design History and Theory at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. Shapira is the author of Style and Seduction: Jewish Patrons, Architecture and Design in Fin de Siècle Vienna (Brandeis University Press, 2016). She is the editor of Design Dialogue: Jews, Culture and Viennese Modernism (Böhlau, 2018) and of the forthcoming anthology Designing Transformation: Jews and Cultural Identity in Central European Modernism (Bloomsbury, 2021). Shapira is further the coeditor of the following anthologies based on the proceedings of International Symposiums she has co-organized Freud and the Émigré (Palgrave, 2020) and of Émigré Cultures in Design and Architecture(Bloomsbury, 2017). Her forthcoming symposium organized together with Anne-Katrin Rossberg is “Gestalterinnen. Frauen, Design und Gesellschaft im Wien der Zwischenkriegszeit” will take place at the MAK – Museum of Applied Arts in May 2021.
  • Israel Studies Seminar podcast

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  • Israel Studies Seminar podcast

    Reconsidering Early Jewish Nationalist Ideologies Seminar: Maja Gildin Zuckerman: The Pragmatism of Proto-Zionism: Tracing Jewish Nation-building through a Cultural Sociological Framework


    Maya Gildin Zuckerman discusses a 1897 tour from London to Palestine as a moment in the Zionist meaning making process. Zionist emergence and its early developments have often been told either as a person/organisation-centred narrative or a Herderian cultural-geographically distinct account (see Dubnov 2011). Through the empirical case study of Danish Zionist emergence, I will show Zionism as an entangled and networked phenomenon that forced the involved parts to rethink Jewish belonging as either here or there. In the lecture, I unfold how a proto-Zionist tour from London to Palestine and back in 1897 inspired the participants, among which was the Danish-Jewish physician, Louis Frænkel, to discover and make sense of what Zionism meant to them. Based on a cultural sociological framework, I show how this proto-Zionist trip became a catalyst for re-coding Jewish values for a group of European Jews. They subsequently returned to their different nation-states and local Jewish communities with a repertoire of new ways of enacting Jewish collectivity that, among other things, reshuffled the earlier marginalisation of small Jewish communities such as the Danish. Maja Gildin Zuckerman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy at Copenhagen Business School. She was the Jim Joseph Postdoctoral Fellow at Education and Jewish Studies at Stanford University. Her research centers around questions related to modern and contemporary Jewish citizenship, the civil sphere, and national in/exclusion relations. She has co-edited the book New Perspectives on Jewish Cultural History: Boundaries, Experiences, and Sense-Making (New York, Routledge, 2019). She holds a PhD from University of Southern Denmark in Middle Eastern Studies (2016), a MA in Sociology and Anthropology from Tel Aviv University (2012), and a BA in Anthropology and Jewish Studies from Copenhagen and Haifa University.
  • Israel Studies Seminar podcast

    Jamie Stern-Weiner: IHRA: The Politics of a Definition


    Jamie Stern-Weiner (Oxford) traces the genesis and evolution of a controversial 'working definition' of antisemitism. The Working Definition of Antisemitism was originally presented in modest terms: a common reference point enabling monitoring bodies to collect data in a manner that permitted cross-country comparison. Some 15 years on, a formidable array of Jewish organisations and supportive Governments is lobbying around the world to have the Working Definition of Antisemitism institutionalised across political and social life. This juggernaut is everywhere provoking opposition - albeit disparate and poorly resourced - led by dissident Jewish groups and Palestinians. The Working Definition's advocates argue that, in order to combat antisemitism, one has to define it. This talk will examine the political genesis and instrumentalisation of the Working Definition to ask: Do we need a definition of antisemitism in order to fight it? If so, should it be this one? If not, what purpose does this definition serve? Jamie Stern-Weiner is a DPhil candidate in Area Studies at the University of Oxford. He is the editor of Moment of Truth: Tackling Israel-Palestine's Toughest Questions (OR Books, 2018) and Antisemitism and the Labour Party (Verso, 2019).
  • Israel Studies Seminar podcast

    Anna Prashizky: Connecting Ethnicity and Space: The New Russian-Mizrahi-Mediterranean Pop Culture in Israel’s Periphery


    Ann Prashizky discusses 'self orientalistation' by the 1.5 generation of FSU immigrants to Israel. Abstract This seminar explores the mutual influences between urban spaces and ethnic relations and hierarchies in the cultural field. It hinges on the two theoretical arguments: that physical place influences intergroup/ethnic relations, and that ethnic relations may reshape the meaning of spaces, especially in the urban context. Both ethnicity and space involve political contestations over their meaning and emerge from the interplay between materiality and culture. Young Russian-speaking ethnic entrepreneurs in Israel have invented the new cultural trope of Mizrahi or Mediterranean Russianness, expressed in various venues of pop culture in which they are involved as cultural producers: video clips, festivals, and music and dance performances. This counter-intuitive merger reflects the mainstreaming of Mizrahi styles and genres in the Israeli culture. It also challenges the Orientalist attitudes towards Mizrahim prevalent among Russian immigrants in Israel, especially the older generation. I examine the nexus between the spatiality and materiality of this new culture which has emerged within Israel’s geographic and social periphery. The third space is thus being produced that undermines the alleged Mizrahi/Russian binary and the perception of these identities as essences which are in opposition in a racial and ethnic context. It enables the mixing of categories, and the possibility of creating a new material style and new artistic objects. Anna Prashizky is senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Western Galilee College. Her research interests are in the area of the anthropology of Judaism and the immigration from FSU in Israel. Her recent articles dealing with the 1.5 generation of Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel were published in such journals as Journal of Israeli History, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Ethnicities, and Social Identities.
  • Israel Studies Seminar podcast

    Adam Sutcliffe: Light Unto the Nations - The Idea of Jewish Purpose and the Emergence of Zionism (Reconsidering Early Jewish Nationalist Ideologies Seminar)


    Adam Sutcliffe (KCL) discusses how Zionist ideologues have viewed the notion of Jewish purpose. The nineteenth-century emergence of Zionism was intimately connected to the idea that the Jews served a uniquely crucial role in the world. This notion is rooted in theological anticipations, both Jewish and Christian, of a messianic future. From it the 1860s took on distinct overtones of economic and geo-political transformation, and spread in various ways into the secular realm. In this paper I will show how ideas of Jewish purpose feature in both Jewish and non-Jewish Zionist thinking, from Joseph Salvador and Ernest Laharanne in 1860, through George Elliot, Theodor Herzl and Bernard Lazare, to the religious Zionism of Abraham Kook and the secularised ‘light unto the nations’ rhetoric of David Ben-Gurion. Adam Sutcliffe is Professor of European History at King’s College London. His most recent book is What Are Jews For: History, Peoplehood, and Purpose (Princeton University Press, 2020). His co-edited volumes include The Cambridge History of Judiasm, volume VII (1500-1815) (CUP, 2018) and Philosemitism in History (CUP, 2011). He is currently working on a history of the idea of empathy in historical writing and pedagogy.
  • Israel Studies Seminar podcast

    Tal Shamur (Cambridge): The emergence of melancholic citizenship at the urban periphery: The case of south Tel Aviv protest against global migration


    Tal Shamur presents his work on the melancholic protest of Hatikva residents. While the concept of citizenship is often related to legal status within the nation state, the actual expression of the concept is defined by one’s standing within the political community and develops questions of inclusion and belonging where spaces of citizenship extend to the city level. According to this perspective, although people may be included in the collective by law of the nation state, they may also be, in actual fact, excluded by the unwritten spatial law. This law dictates the life conditions of minorities and creates symbolic and physical boundaries that pushes “others” to the city margins where marginalized citizens and noncitizens contest their exclusions. Whereas public demonstration of discriminated citizens emerging at the urban periphery might be seen as reactionary and as a raging outbursts, closer examination reveals they are also a site of sadness and melancholy. following this line of thought, Tal Shamur will suggest the concept of “melancholic citizenship” to describe the emotion of sadness aroused among a discriminated group of citizens in light of a process that highlights their social and urban marginality. The case study explored is the struggle of old-time Mizrahi (Jews who immigrated to Israel from Arab countries) residents of the HaTikva neighborhood – a lower income neighborhood of south Tel Aviv – against the inflow of African migration to the area. Based on anthropological field work he conducted in the neighborhood he argues that the struggle of the long-standing residents aroused melancholic feelings among them when they realized that the global migration is a current indication of their discrimination as lower-income Mizrahim who inhabit the city periphery and are located at the margins of Israeli society. Tal Shamur is an ISEF Foundation International Fellow in the Department of Social Anthropology, at the University of Cambridge. He wrote his PhD in Cultural Anthropology in Haifa University. His work focuses on questions of belonging and identification within the urban sphere. His Book titled: Hope and Melancholy on an Urban Frontier: Ethnicity, Space and Gender in the Hatikva Neighborhood, Tel-Aviv was recently published in Haifa University of press (2020, in Hebrew). His articles were published in the journals Emotion Space and Society (2019) and Citizenship Studies (2018).
  • Israel Studies Seminar podcast

    Reconsidering Early Jewish Nationalist Ideologies Seminar: Rose Stair (Oxford): Age and gender in German-language cultural Zionism


    The fourth lecture in the Reconsidering Early Jewish Nationalist Ideologies seminar series. Rose Stair discusses cultural Zionism through a focus on age and gender. This paper examines the construction and mobilization of age categories in the German-language cultural Zionism of the turn of the 20th century. Presenting examples of texts and visual art that employ models and metaphors of different age identities, Rose Stair suggests that age functioned as a conceptual language through which the cultural Zionist community expressed their relationship to the Jewish past and Zionist future. She argues that these conceptions of age cannot be detached from the community’s assumptions about gender, meaning that even the metaphorical use of age imagery remained tethered to the social reality of family structures and bourgeois gender roles. Rose Stair is DPhil student in the Theology and Religion faculty at the University of Oxford, and previously studied at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her doctoral research looks at age and gender in German-language cultural Zionism, and their articulation through textual and visual sources.
  • Israel Studies Seminar podcast

    Peter Bergamin (Oxford): Guns and Moses: Jewish anti-British Resistance during the Mandate for Palestine


    Peter Bergamin presents some findings and conclusions from his recent research on the British Mandate for Palestine, focusin on the phenomena of Jewish illegal immigration and anti-British terrorism, and their role in Britain’s eventual abandonment of the Abstract: In this seminar Dr Bergamin presents some findings and conclusions from his recent research on the British Mandate for Palestine. The project examines Britain’s administration of the Mandate, and – using almost exclusively British archival documents - suggests reasons for its eventual referral of the Mandate to the United Nations in April 1947, and premature departure in May 1948, having not fulfilled the conditions of its Mandate. The seminar focuses on the phenomena of Jewish illegal immigration and anti-British terrorism, and their role in Britain’s eventual abandonment of the Palestine Mandate. A comparison of the Jewish anti-British terror campaign, from 1944-1948 – alongside the concurrent campaign of Jewish illegal immigration to Palestine – with the IRA terror campaign in London, between 1973 and 1998 shows that, in only three and a half years, acts of Jewish anti-British terror far surpassed those of the IRA in London – in scope, intensity, and indeed, casualties – which occurred over a period of more than twenty-five years. Thus, the seminar will conclude by stating outright what other studies of the period often whitewash or downplay: that the combined phenomena of Jewish illegal immigration to Palestine, and the campaign of anti-British terror waged by Jewish underground paramilitary groups Irgun, Stern Gang, and, at times, also by the Haganah (with the support of the Jewish political leadership in Palestine), were the key factors in Britain’s decision to withdraw from the Mandate. Indeed, what Britain had originally hoped would be one its most successful imperial undertakings turned out, in retrospect, to be perhaps its greatest failure. Bio: Peter Bergamin is Lecturer in Oriental Studies at Mansfield College, University of Oxford, after having gained his DPhil in Oriental Studies in 2016, under the supervision of Derek Penslar. His research focuses on the period of the British Mandate for Palestine, with a particular interest in Maximalist-Revisionist Zionism. His first monograph, The Making of the Israeli Far-Right: Abba Ahimeir and Zionist Ideology (I.B. Tauris, 2020), focused on the ideological and political genesis of one of the major leaders of pro-Fascist, Far-Right Zionism, in the 1920s and 30s. His current research examines British archival sources, in order to suggest reasons for Britain’s premature withdrawal from its Palestine Mandate.
  • Israel Studies Seminar podcast

    Reconsidering Early Jewish Nationalist Ideologies Seminar: Yuval Evri (KCL) - The Return to Al-Andalus: Disputes Over Sephardic Culture and Identity Between Arabic and Hebrew


    Yuval Evri discusses his new book, The Return to Al-Andalus, Disputes Over Sephardic Culture and Identity Between Arabic and Hebrew Abstract: Against the background of the tumultuous political and social events of the period and the processes of national, ethnic, and religious partitions that gained momentum during those years, the lecture explores the ways in which these Arab-Jewish intellectuals fundamentally challenged the nationalistic and monolingual separatist ideologies that characterized their times, and proposed an alternative political and cultural route. It looks at their efforts to establish a shared Jewish-Arab society based on a symbolic return to the Sephardi/Andalusian medieval legacy of Hebrew-Arabic bilingualism and a Judeo-Muslim joint cultural heritage. Instead of partition into two separate languages, identities, or traditions, they developed a model of a single multilingual and multi-religious cultural landscape. Thus, the fluidity that is inherent in these multiplicities becomes a source of resistance to the dominant monolingual and nationalistic forces, and dismantles any (national) claim over exclusive ownership of texts, traditions, or languages. By exploring these contested representations of Andalusian identity and culture, the lecture re-examines some fundamental issues that emerged at the turn of the twentieth century: the national conflict between Jews and Palestinians, the contacts and splits between Hebrew and Arab cultures and the formation of ethnic hierarchies between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim. Bio: Dr Yuval Evri is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Kings College. His research focuses on the cultural and political history of Palestine/Land of Israel at the turn of the 20th century. The issue of Sephardi and Arab-Jewish thought lay in the heart of his research and teaching interest. His current research traces multilingual translational and cultural models that emerged in the beginning of 20th century Palestine/Land of Israel and explores how the fluidity inherent in these cultural models becomes a source of resistance to the dominant monolingual forces, and to any exclusive claims of ownership of land, texts, traditions, or languages. His new book The Return to Al-Andalus Disputes Over Sephardic Culture and Identity Between Arabic and Hebrew was published by Magnes Press (2020). Dr. Evri is headed to Brandeis University, where he will take the Marash and Ocuin Chair in Ottoman, Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish Studies.

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