Workshop: at Taub Center, on Yigal Allon and Menachem Begin (NYU, Feb 26, 2016)

Taub workshop

2/26/16 – Taub Center Graduate Workshop
10am – 2pm

The Taub Center organizes regular workshops for graduate students and faculty in the field of Israel Studies at NYU and other universities in the tri-state area. The regional workshops are an opportunity for students and faculty to present and discuss their respective areas of research. The workshops also serve as an important forum for networking and strengthening the field of Israel Studies.

  • Ehud Manor, Oranim College (Israel): Writing the Biography of Yigal Allon
  • Avi Shilon, Taub Center for Israel Studies: Menachem Begin: His Life and Ideology

New Article: Brown | Lia van Leer: Founder of Jerusalem Film Festival and Israel’s Cinematheques

Brown, Hannah. “Lia van Leer: Founder of Jerusalem Film Festival and Israel’s Cinematheques.” Jewish Quarterly 62.2 (2015): 88-90.





Lia van Leer founded the cinematheques in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, art-house cinemas based on the model of the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris. Van Leer also created the Israel Film Archive, which houses more than 30,000 prints of movies from around the world, as well as more than 20,000 videos and DVDs—among them virtually all movies made in Israel.
In addition, she founded the Jerusalem Film Festival, in 1984, which presents hundreds of movies from around the world, as well as showcasing the newest Israeli films.


ToC: Israel Studies 20.3 (2015) | Special Issue: Moshe Sharett: A Retrospective

Israel Studies 20.3 (2015)

Special Issue—Moshe Sharett: A Retrospective



  1. Introduction (pp. v-vii)
    Natan Aridan and Gabriel (Gabi) Sheffer
  2. Gabriel Sheffer
  3. Yaakov Sharett

New Book: Natkovich, Jabotinsky’s Oeuvre in Its Social Context (In Hebrew)

נטקוביץ’, סבטלנה. בין ענני זוהר. יצירתו של ולדימיר (זאב) ז’בוטינסקי  בהקשר החברתי. ירושלים: מאגנס, 2015.






Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky – journalist, cultural critic, translator, author, poet and politician – is an enigmatic and controversial figure in the history of Zionism. His presence in the political and intellectual discourse of the Zionist movement, from the early twentieth century to present day, made his ideological legacy a formative factor of Israeli reality, but the public image attributed to him positioned his life and work and his literary legacy in the shadow of his ideological discourse.

This book traces Jabotinsky’s intellectual biography as an author. It examines his literary oeuvre in the broad context of his life and his political activity and in relation to his writing in other genres and formats – his journalistic writing, his literary and art criticism, and his discourse of the self that was formed in his letters, in his autobiographical writings and in testimonies of his time. Alongside an indication on continuums and recurring motifs in his work, this book reveals conflicts and fissures between various periods, genres and themes in Jabotinsky’s writing, as well as between the literary, political and personal spheres in his life. In addition to engagement with his canonical work – the novels “Samson” and “The Five” – the book presents works that have not been hitherto discussed.

New Book: Shiff, The Downfall of Abba Hillel Silver

Shiff, Ofer. The Downfall of Abba Hillel Silver and the Foundation of Israel. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2014.





In early February 1949, American Jewry’s most popular and powerful leader, Abba Hillel Silver (1893–1963), had summarily resigned from all his official positions within the Zionist movement and had left New York for Cleveland, returning to his post as a Reform rabbi. In the immediate years prior to his resignation, during the second half of the 1940s, Silver was the most outspoken proponent of the founding of a sovereign Jewish state. He was the most instrumental American Jewish leader in the political struggle that led to the foundation of the State of Israel. Paradoxically, this historic victory also heralded Silver’s personal defeat.

Soon after Israel’s declaration of independence, he and many of his American Zionist colleagues were relegated to the sidelines of the Zionist movement. Almost overnight the most influential leader—one who was admired and feared by both supporters and opponents—was stripped of his power within both the Zionist and the American Jewish arenas.

Shiff’s book discerns the various aspects of the striking turnabout in Silver’s political fate, describing both the personal tragic story of a leader who was defeated by his own victory and the much broader intra-Zionist battle that erupted in full force immediately after the founding of Israel. Drawing extensively on Silver’s personal archival material, Shiff presents an enlightening portrait of a critical episode in Jewish history. This book is highly relevant for anyone who attempts to understand the complex homeland-diaspora relations between Israel and American Jewry.

New Book: Reifler, Days of Ticho

Reifler, David M. Days of Ticho. Empire, Mandate, Medicine, and Art in the Holy Land. Jerusalem and Springfield, NJ: Gefen, 2014.







Dr. Avraham Albert Ticho was a Viennese-trained ophthalmologist who immigrated to Ottoman-ruled Jerusalem in 1912. There he married his cousin, the artist Anna Ticho, and together they made their mark on the history of the Land of Israel. In Days of Ticho, the Tichos’ story is told in all its fascinating detail. Their personal history is presented against the backdrop of a variety of historical perspectives histories of medicine, art, civilian institutions, governments, and war; the struggles and growth of the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine; and the conflicts that arose between Jews and their Arab neighbors. Among the stories in this book are Dr. Ticho’s supervision of the first Hadassah nurses in Palestine and the early years of Hadassah Hospital, as well as the near-fatal stabbing of Dr. Ticho by an Arab would-be assassin in November 1929, during the murderous riots that took place throughout Palestine. Those riots were an important turning point in Jewish-Arab relations, the harbinger of problems that remain the focus of world attention until today. The Ticho House in Jerusalem was dedicated in May 1984 as a downtown annex of the Israel Museum, and it welcomes thousands of visitors every year. This book further contributes to the Tichos’ legacy while advancing an understanding of their times and ours.

New Article: Ben-Yehuda, Between Bialik and Himself

Ben-Yehuda, Omri. “Between Bialik and Himself: Acting Hyperbole Out.” Jerusalem Studies in Hebrew Literature 27 (2014): 155ff (in Hebrew).



The article examines some of Bialik’s major narrative works – mainly Big Harry, Behind the Fence, In the City of Slaughter and A Fattened Bull and a Green Meal – through a careful close-reading that seeks to unpack major textual allusions between them. Using some of Bakhtin’s holistic concepts, which outline the relations of prose and ideology, the article explores Bialik’s poetics and defines him as a ‘hyperbolic storyteller’ who seeks expansion both in his phrases and in the world they depict. By using trauma theory, the article examines these textual links as repetitive acting out of events, both biographical and national.

בן-יהודה, עמרי. “היפרבולות והפגן: על כמה אלוזיות של ביאליק לעצמו”. מחקרי ירושלים בספרות עברית כז (2014): 155 ואילך.

Lecture: On James McDonald’s published Diaries (Jan 15, 2015, American U)

Richard Breitman and Norman Goda discuss their recently published volume of James McDonald’s edited diaries.

American University, SIS Building

Thursday, January 15, 7:00-8:30pm



New Book: Lammfromm, Levi Eshkol: A Political Biography (in Hebrew)

למפרום, ארנון. לוי אשכול: ביוגרפיה פוליטית 1944-1969. תל אביב: רסלינג, 2014.





Arnon Lammfromm’s book presents the politics of Levi Eshkol (1895-1969), one of the founding figures of modern Israel, who led its economic growth as its Minister of the Treasury (1952-1963). As Prime Minister (1963-1969) he led the country while facing complex challenges, such as overcoming the Arab threat which reached its peak in the Six Day War, as well as adjusting the economy to changing needs through the steps of austerity. Eshkol had to step into the big shoes of Ben-Gurion, confront and overcome him. He also succeeded, for the first time in Israeli history, to sign a formal and secret memorandum with the United States which served as one of the foundations of the military victory in 1967.

Lammfromm’s main argument is that Eshkol built his career as a “bureaucratic” leader who specializes in many areas, but not as a “charismatic” leader (drawing on Max Weber’s terminology), since his rhetorical abilities were limited. As long as he made use of his capabilities as a bureaucratic leader he was able to compensate for his charismatic weaknesses. But since 1966 he diminished his use of his bureaucratic abilities, increasing his political weakness, and eventually costing him the defense ministry on the eve of the Six Day War.




New Article: Rosenberg-Friedman, Story of Ada Sereni, Head of the Mossad Le’aliyah in Italy

Rosenberg-Friedman, Lilach. “National Mission, Feminine Identity and Female Leadership in a Mythical Masculine Organization: The Story of Ada Sereni, Head of the Mossad: The Story of Ada Sereni, Head of the Mossad Le’aliyah in Italy during the 1940s.” Women’s Studies 43.5 (2014): 589-618.





Before the establishment of the Mossad, Israel’s mythological secret service agency (formed in 1949), another secretive organization operated in the region. This organization, known as the Mossad Le’Aliyah Bet (henceforth the Mossad), was responsible for helping Holocaust survivors immigrate illegally to Palestine. Few people are aware that a woman, Ada Sereni, headed the organizations’ important Italian division from July 1945 to May 1948, an intense period during the struggle for the establishment of the State of Israel. This article seeks to present the characteristics of Ada Sereni’s actions, the new identity she developed during this period, and her complex leadership style.

Reviews: Bar-On, Moshe Dayan. Israel’s Controversial Hero

Bar-On, Mordechai. Moshe Dayan. Israel’s Controversial Hero. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012.

Book cover


Cite: Lachover and Bossin, , Femininity and Feminism in the Life of Hannah Semer

Lachover, Einat and Donna Bossin. “Professionalism, Femininity and Feminism in the Life of Hannah Semer (1924–2003), First Lady of Israeli Journalism.” Nashim 24 (2013): 120-38.





Hannah Semer broke through the glass ceiling and glass walls of her profession in a way no other Israeli female journalist had done before. This paper seeks to examine Semer’s dual identities as a woman and a journalist and to analyze the nature of these two identities as evidenced in her work, by considering the following questions: What obstacles did Semer face as a woman in her profession and, more specifically, in positions assumed to be within exclusively male domains? How did she cope with these obstacles? Did she experience significant tension between the cultural definitions of femininity and of professionalism? And if she did, how did this sense of discord find expression in her work, and how did she resolve the tension and disharmony inherent in being a woman journalist? These questions are relevant to the discussion of relations between women and journalism both in Israel and worldwide.

Reviews: Rochelson, Jew in the Public Arena

Rochelson, Meri-Jane. A Jew in the Public Arena. The Career of Israel Zangwill. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2008.

 A Jew in the Public Arena




  • Baum, Devorah. “Review.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 10.2 (2011): 318-320.
  • Breitzer, Susan Roth. “Review.” Journal of American Ethnic History 30.4 (2011): 83-84.
  • Itzkowitz, David C. “Review.” Victorian Studies 52.4 (2010): 676-678.

Cite: Vogt on Robert Weltsch

Vogt, Stefan. “Robert Weltsch and the Paradoxes of Anti-Nationalist Nationalism.” Jewish Social Studies 16.3 (2010): 85-115.





This article analyzes the specific version of Zionism developed in Central Europe by examining the life and work of Robert Weltsch. Born in Prague in 1891, Weltsch was the editor of the official journal of the German Zionist federation, the Jüdische Rundschau, from 1919 until 1938. I trace the impact of German nationalist ideology and politics on Weltsch’s thinking, arguing that he developed an ambivalent concept of Jewish nationalism that cannot be identified as either ethnic or civic. Weltsch criticized liberal ideology and affirmed völkisch ideas of national community while rejecting national chauvinism and embracing universal humanity. Weltsch’s Zionism was an attempt to fulfill the cultural aspirations of völkisch nationalism and yet to avoid its political consequences. His ideas remained an unsolved contradiction and, though supported by many German Zionists, were thus not able to shape the politics of the Zionist movement and the political reality in Palestine.

New Publication: Rochelson on Zangwill

Rochelson, Meri-Jane. A Jew in the Public Arena. The Career of Israel Zangwill. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2008.

 A Jew in the Public Arena


After winning an international audience with his novel Children of the Ghetto, Israel Zangwill went on to write numerous short stories, four additional novels, and several plays, including The Melting Pot. Author Meri-Jane Rochelson, a noted expert on Zangwill’s work, examines his career from its beginnings in the 1890s to the performance of his last play, We Moderns, in 1924, to trace how Zangwill became the best-known Jewish writer in Britain and America and a leading spokesperson on Jewish affairs throughout the world. In A Jew in the Public Arena, Rochelson examines Zangwill’s published writings alongside a wealth of primary materials, including letters, diaries, manuscripts, press cuttings, and other items in the vast Zangwill files of the Central Zionist Archives, to demonstrate why an understanding of Israel Zangwill’s career is essential to understanding the era that so significantly shaped the modern Jewish experience.
Once he achieved fame as an author and playwright, Israel Zangwill became a prominent public activist for the leading social causes of the twentieth century, including women’s suffrage, peace, Zionism, and the Jewish territorialist movement and rescue efforts. Rochelson shows how Zangwill’s activism and much of his literary output were grounded in a universalist vision of Judaism and a commitment to educate the world about Jews as a way of combating antisemitism. Still, Zangwill’s position in favor of creating a homeland for the Jews wherever one could be found (in contrast to mainstream Zionism’s focus on Palestine) and his apparent advocacy of assimilation in his play The Melting Pot made him an increasingly controversial figure. By the middle of the twentieth century his reputation had fallen into decline, and his work is unknown to many modern readers.
A Jew in the Public Arena looks at Zangwill’s literary and political activities in the context of their time, to make clear why he held such a place of importance in turn-of-the-century literary and political culture and why his life and work are significant today. Jewish studies scholars as well as students and teachers of late Victorian to Modernist British literature and culture will appreciate this insightful look at Israel Zangwill.