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Lecture | Contemporary History and International Relations Research Seminar

CANCELLED: Love, Fear, and Guilt: American Jews and Israel in the 1948 War

Tuesday 19 May 2020
Contemporary History and International Relations Research Seminar (CHIRRS) year 2019-2020
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

This talk employs the case of American Jewry in 1948 to expand the concepts of “emotional regime” (Reddy) and “emotional community” (Rosenwein) to encompass non-state actors bound by ethno-religious solidarity.  During the war for Israel’s establishment, American Jewish philanthropic support for Israel was motivated by a complex blend of emotions: pride in the state’s establishment and fear for its survival, compassion for Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and guilt for having passed World War II in on safe ground while two thirds of European Jewry was murdered. These feelings were shared by Jews far beyond the relatively small circle of Zionist activists.  During the 1948 War, American Jews formed a diffuse, informal, voluntary, yet tightly-bound emotional community. 

About the speaker

Derek Penslar is the William Lee Frost Professor of Jewish History at Harvard University.  He has previously taught at Indiana University, the University of Toronto, and Oxford, where he was the inaugural Stanley Lewis Professor of Modern Israel Studies. Derek has published ten books, most recently Jews and the Military: A History (2013), and Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader (2020). He is currently writing a book titled Zionism: An Emotional State for Rutgers University Press’ series on “Keywords in Jewish Studies.” He is co-editor of The Journal of Israeli History, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and President of the American Academy for Jewish Research.

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