Jeffrey Herf: Israel’s Moment
20th April 2022
Jeffrey Herf, Professor of History at the University of Maryland and Senior Research Fellow at LCSCA, talks about his book Israel’s Moment: International Support for and Opposition to Establishing the Jewish State, 1945-1949 (Cambridge University Press, 2022).
This event is co-sponsored by the George Washington University Rabin Chair Forum
About this event
Jeffrey Herf, Professor of History at the University of Maryland and Senior Research Fellow at LCSCA, talks about his latest book, which examines the coordinates of support and opposition to the establishment of Israel.
The book draws on the large, published scholarship, and on archives in the United States, France, and United Nation records to examine the emphatic opposition to the Zionist project by the British Government of Prime Minister Clement Atlee and Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin, together with the leadership of the United States national security establishment in the State Department of George Marshall and George Kennan.
The American and British architects of the policy of the global containment of the Soviet Union and Communism, as well as their counterparts in the French Foreign Ministry, viewed the prospect of a Jewish state as a threat to Western access to Arab oil, and as a likely instrument for Soviet and Communist influence in the Middle East. Conversely, support for the Zionists came from British and American liberals, and left-liberals, French Socialists, Communists and Gaullists, and from the Soviet Union, and its allies in Poland and Czechoslovakia. They, in different ways, saw the establishment of Israel as the logical culmination of the opposition to Nazism, antisemitism, racism and colonialism that emerged during World War II and the Holocaust. By recalling these realities, Israel’s Moment challenges their reversal in the form of myths and misunderstandings fostered during the Cold War and which have persisted into the present.
Jeffrey Herf is a Professor of History at the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Senior Research Fellow of the London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism.
His specialty is in 20th-century European intellectual history, especially in Germany. He won the American Historical Association’s George Louis Beer Prize in 1998; in September 1996, he was awarded the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History by the Institute of Contemporary History and the Wiener Library in London. He has also published political essays in Partisan Review and reviews in the New Republic, as well as in Die Zeit, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Die Welt, and he has lectured widely in the United States, Europe and Israel. He was a contributing editor to Partisan Review and is a member of the editorial board of Central European History.