Professor Derek J. Penslar

Prof. Derek J. Penslar
Stanley Lewis Professor of Israel Studies

I study Zionism and modern Israel within the contexts of modern European and Middle Eastern history, nationalism, and colonialism.  This methodology reflects my education as a European historian (with a doctorate from Berkeley) and twenty-five years of teaching Jewish, European and comparative history as well as Israel Studies at Indiana University, the University of Toronto, Harvard and Columbia before
coming to Oxford in 2012.

My first book, Zionism and Technocracy: The Engineering of Jewish Settlement in Palestine, 1870-1918 (1991) placed early Zionist settlement policy in the context of European colonial and social policies of the fin de siecle.  My interests in Zionist economic thought led to my second book,  Shylock’s Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe (2001), which traced the history of Jewish political economy from the eighteenth century to the present.  I've written a number of articles on Israel's place in modern Jewish and world history, and some of these essays were published in my 2007 book Israel in History: The Jewish State in Comparative Perspective.  Over the past five years my research interests have continued to cover both Jewish history and Israel Studies.

I co-edit two scholarly journals, The Journal of Israeli History and Jewish Social Studies, and serve on the editorial boards of the journals Israel Studies and the Israel Studies Review.  I am an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the American Academy for Jewish Research.

Recent publications:

Jews and the Military:  A History (2013)  also available from Amazon

"Shlomo Sand's 'The Invention of the Jewish People' and the End of the New History," Israel Studies 17:2 (2012), 156-68

The Origins of Israel, 1882-1948: A Documentary History (with Eran Kaplan, 2011)

"The German-Jewish Soldier: From Participant to Victim." German History 29, 3 (2011), 423-44


Recent Seminar/Conference Participation:

Derek Penslar delivered the 2013 Sherman Lectures in Judaic Studies at the University of Manchester:

Derek Penslar offered summary observations at a June 19-21 conference at Birkbeck College on the BDS movement in comparative and historical perspective: