[P4910] Arab, Jewish, and Arab Jewish Critiques of Zionism

Created by Geoffrey Levin
Sunday, 11/19/17 3:30pm


Though most of its leaders had Eastern European Jewish roots, the Zionist movement had a transformative effect on the lives and identities of Arabs and Jews of various origins, many of whom objected to its actions and ideological premises. This panel analyzes the discontents and responses of assorted Arab, Jewish, and Arab Jewish critics of the Zionism and Israeli policy. Taking a transnational approach, the panel includes a wide spectrum of voices including Iraqi Jewish women, Arab and Jewish American activists, and Middle Eastern/Arab Jews who witnessed the displacement of Palestinian neighbors. How did those with lives and identities so disrupted by Zionism understand and respond to the ideology? What fundamental similarities and differences exist across this array of Arab, Jewish, and Arab Jewish critiques? What actions did they take and what outcomes emerged? These are among these questions that this panel explores.
Drawing from growing literature on the role of emotions in history, one panelist examines the letters of Iraqi Jewish women with an eye toward expressions of love, intimacy, and disappointment. These emotions, the panelist argues, are key to understanding both Zionism's authority and critics of that authority among activists in Iraq during the 1940s. Another panelist uses Effi Banai's documentary film Longing (2009) as a prism for understanding the position of Arab Jews amidst the making of Palestine into Israel. The presentation analyzes a scene in which a Jaffan Jew recounts her 1947 encounter with Menahem Begin, in which the Irgun militia commander tried to enlister her as a spy to aid in the deportation of the Palestinian Muslim and Christian from her town. Besides exploring the resettling of Middle Eastern/Arab Jews in stolen Palestinian homes, it also highlights Arab Jewish subversions of Zionist hegemony. A third paper traces the evolution of American Jewish anti-Zionist thought, focusing on the use of key concepts such as crisis, victimhood, and prophesy. Among other factors, the panelist notes how certain groups, including Palestinians, Arab Jews, and Americans, were and were not emphasized as victims of Zionist over the course of time. The final panelist discusses how the post-1973 moderation of mainstream Arab American critics of Israel actually succeeded in making Palestinian national claims more accepted within US discourse. However, as his paper shows, ironically, simultaneous and related foreign policy developments made it even less likely Palestinian aspirations would ever be realized.





Liora R. Halperin

(University of Washington - Seattle)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Discussant;

Salim Yaqub

(University of California, Santa Barbara)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Chelsie May

(University of Chicago)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Geoffrey Levin

(New York University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Shirly Bahar

(American Jewish Historical Society)
Dr. Shirly Bahar is the Director of Cultural and Academic Programs at the American Jewish Historical Society in NYC, where she also curates art projects related to the historic exhibitions. Shirly was the founder of the 1st Mizrahi Film Series at NYU...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;