Reconsidering Early Jewish Nationalist Ideologies Seminar: TT21 Wk 2: The Road Not Taken: The Sephardi Vision of Jewish-Arab Co-Existence in Palestine

Conveners: Peter Bergamin and Yaacov Yadgar

Speaker: Aron Shai (Tel Aviv)


A close examination of one unique Jewish group that was active at the turn of the century, between the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of Great Britain in the Middle East, a group that was preoccupied with Jewish-Arab relations and the Balfour Declaration, reveals an interesting complex picture. It appears that not all the Jews of the Old Yishuv supported the Declaration, and not all the Arabs denounced it and were opposed to the arrival of the Jews to Palestine. Among the inhabitants of the Old Yishuv, some Sephardi Jews in Jerusalem and Tiberias, for example, wanted to rectify Jewish-Arab relations and correct the severe damage the Balfour Declaration had inflicted on the Arab/Palestinian cause and consequently on peaceful Jewish-Arab co-existence. After all, it was argued, a prosperous and promising Jewish-Palestinian community was definitely in the Jewish interest. Indeed, some Arabs, if not the masses, looked favourably upon the Zionist project and hoped it would succeed.


Speaker Bio: 

Aron Shai served as a Guest/Visiting Professor at St. Antony's College and Mansfield College, Oxford; University of Toronto; Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Science Sociales and Sciences Po, Paris; East-Asian Institute, Columbia University, New York; New York University (Global Distinguished Professor), New York and the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Until recently - visitor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. He further served as Chair of the History Curriculum Committee at the Ministry of Education, as member of the Council of Higher Education and as Chair of the History and East Asian Studies Departments, Tel-Aviv University. Also, served as Director at two Israeli insurance companies. He holds a B.A. in History and Philosophy and an M.A. in History cum laude, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. D. Phil., St. Antony's College, University of Oxford. Between 1972 and 2021 published over 50 articles and chapters in academic journals and edited books. His recent book: China and Israel – Chinese, Jews; Beijing, Jerusalem. (Boston, 2019).


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Meeting ID: 928 9816 3373

Passcode: 538897