New Article: Yehudai, Jewish Repatriation from Palestine to Europe, 1945–48

Yehudai, Ori. “Displaced in the National Home: Jewish Repatriation from Palestine to Europe, 1945–48.” Jewish Social Studies 20.2 (2014): 69-110.





At the end of World War II, thousands of European Jews who had found refuge in Palestine during the war sought to return to their countries of origin through a repatriation program launched by the Middle East office of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). Their repatriation was a source of conflict between the Zionist leadership in Palestine and UNRRA. The former accused the latter of encouraging Jewish return to Europe, whereas UNRRA officials accused Zionists in the Yishuv of trying to prevent repatriation and of ostracizing those opting to return. The controversy derived from conflicting ideological and political considerations regarding the role of Jewish refugees in postwar reconstruction. Yet the positions of the quarreling parties were disconnected from those of repatriation applicants, who were determined to rebuild their lives outside Palestine but conceived of postwar reconstruction mainly in material and personal rather than ideological and political terms.

Screening and Discussion: Shadow in Baghdad (SOAS, Nov 20, 2014)

SOAS Centre for Jewish Studies

Shadow in Baghdad

Film Screening and Panel Discussion

7pm Thursday 20th November

Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS


The film will be followed by a panel discussion with

Linda Menuhin Abdul Aziz (journalist, film protagonist)

Adel Darwish (author and journalist);

Amal al-Jubouri (Director of the Arab Human Rights Academy)

Chair: Dr. Yair Wallach (SOAS)

SHADOW IN BAGHDAD (director: Duki Dror, 2013) tells the story of Linda Menuhin Abdul Aziz, who escaped the upheaval of Iraq in the early 1970’s to Israel, and her father, who disappeared shortly thereafter to an unknown fate. The film follows Linda as an unexpected connection with a young Iraqi journalist sets her back on the path towards Baghdad and the truth behind her father’s disappearance. What they ultimately uncover is not only the fate of Linda’s father but that of the once thriving Iraqi Jewish community whose glorious history came to an abrupt end in the 1970’s. At once a story of tragedy and redemption, Shadow in Baghdad tells of an important chapter in the turbulent history of the Middle East as it points to a distinct hope for the future as well.

THE PANEL DISCUSSION will consider Iraq’s Jewish past against the country’s current predicament and the question of human rights, civic solidarity and minorities in the Middle East.

All Welcome

The event is free and there is no need to book

SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG


New Article: Lichtenstein, Prague Zionists and the Paris Peace Conference

Lichtenstein, Tatjana. “Jewish Power and Powerlessness: Prague Zionists and the Paris Peace Conference.” East European Jewish Affairs 44.1 (2014): 2-20.





This article explores how perceptions of Jewish power shaped the negotiations between Czechoslovak leaders and Jewish minority representatives at the time of the Paris Peace Conference. In the aftermath of the First World War, Prague-based Zionists embarked on a mission to convince Czechoslovak elites that attacks on Jews were detrimental to the internal stability of the new state and to Czechoslovak interests abroad. As Edvard Beneš, the head of the Czechoslovak delegation in Paris, worked to cultivate an image of the new state as more “Western” and “civilised” than other successor states – a strategy meant to garner international support for Czechoslovak territorial demands and its projected absorption of large minority populations – Jewish activists encouraged his uncertainty with regard to Jews’ influence on Western audiences and statesmen. They did so in order to convince him to accept their demands for special protection clauses for the new country’s Jews. The paper thus shows that the unprecedented victimisation of Jews and the upsurge in antisemitism during and after the war coexisted with a new bold and public Jewish activism. Yet, Jewish leaders did not in the end have the ability to convince Beneš and his colleagues to give in to international Jewish demands for special protection. Instead, they sought to cultivate a strategic alliance between the state’s Czech elite and the Jewish minority which centred on the claim that Czechoslovakia was a particularly welcoming and tolerant place for Jews, an image that would evolve into a significant component of the myth of Czechoslovakia as an island of democracy in Eastern Europe.