Zionism today is a little-studied, yet much-maligned ideology. For some, including member-states of the United Nations, Zionism has been derided as racism and been cited as the intellectual justification for human rights violations. For others, it is the truest expression of Jewish sovereignty and a holy enterprise. Yet, what is Zionism? (Or more accurately, what are the various streams of Zionism?) And who and what have been its historical opponents both within and outside the Jewish community?
The lecture and conversation will be led by Dr. Sara Yael Hirschhorn, Visiting Professor at the Ruderman Program in American Jewish Studies and Senior Researcher at the Comper Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism and Racism at the University of Haifa. She will divide the program into two halves – Zionism before and after the founding of the State of Israel. A State of the Jews (or for some thinkers, a self-consciously “Jewish” State) was only one “solution” to the so-called ‘Jewish Question,” but represented a revolution in Jewish history. The second half of the lecture will examine the evolution of Zionist thought in the post-state period and will conclude with a discussion of two contemporary debates on “Zionism is Racism” and the relationship between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
Dr. Sara Yael Hirschhorn is currently a Visiting Professor at the Ruderman Program in American Jewish Studies and a Senior Researcher at the Comper Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism and Racism at the University of Haifa. She is also a ’22-’24 inaugural fellow at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Center for Antisemitism Research and a fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute. She was previously appointed as the Visiting Assistant Professor in Israel Studies at Northwestern University (2018-2022) and the University Research Lecturer in Israel Studies at the University of Oxford (2013-2018). Her research, teaching, and public engagement activities focus on Diaspora-Israel relations, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and the Israeli Ultranationalist Movement. Her first book, City on a Hilltop: American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement (Harvard, 2017), was the winner of the 2018 Sami Rohr Prize in Jewish Literature Choice Award and a finalist for the 2017 National Jewish Book Award. She is currently working on a new manuscript entitled “New Day in Babylon and Jerusalem: Zionism, Jewish Power, and Identity Politics Since 1967,” which will offer a transnational history of the post-Six Day War period. Apart from her academic work, Dr. Hirschhorn is an internationally recognized public speaker, writer, educator, media commentator, and consultant on contemporary Jewish/Israel affairs. Follow her public work at sarahirschhorn1@X [formerly known as Twitter].
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