Great Neck Library special program: The Arab-Israeli War of 1948 presented by Jeffrey Herf and Benny Morris

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Great Neck Library special program: The Arab-Israeli War of 1948 presented by Jeffrey Herf and Benny Morris
Benny Morris

This talk recalls the international political context

in which the state of Israel was established contrasts sharply with that of today. In the United States, in the years immediately following World War II and the Holocaust, support for the Zionist project extended across most of the political spectrum but was most emphatic among liberals and leftists.

In France, the same spectrum of support extended from Gaullists to liberals, socialists, and communists. In the crucial years of 1947 to 1949, the Soviet Union and Soviet bloc offered crucial diplomatic and military support to the Zionists in Palestine, and then to the new state of Israel.

Conversely, in those same years, the United States Department of State and the British Foreign Office opposed the Zionists’ efforts because they suspected them of association with the Soviet Union and thought a Jewish state in Palestine would undermine West European access to oil.

In other words, the conventional meaning of famous words—colonialism, imperialism, racism, and fascism—were often the direct opposite of what they came to mean in global discussion especially since the 1960s.

This talk recalls these political coordinates of Israel’s Moment and reflects on their contemporary significance in light of the Hamas attack of October 7, 2023, and Iran’s missile barrage at Israel of April 13.

Jeffrey Herf is distinguished university professor, Emeritus in the Department of History, University of Maryland, College Park, where he taught modern European, especially modern German history since 2000.

He has published extensively on the origins, nature, consequences of Nazism, World War II and the Holocaust, and their aftermath in Europe and the Middle East, and on the history of antisemitism. His books include “The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II” and the “Holocaust (Harvard U.P., 2006); Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World” (Yale University Press, 2009); “Undeclared Wars with Israel: East Germany and the West German Far Left,” 1967-1989 (Cambridge U.P., 2016); “Israel’s Moment: International Support and Opposition for Establishing the Jewish State,” 1945-1949 (Cambridge U.P., 2022); and “Three Faces of Antisemitism: Right, Left, and Islamist” (Routledge, 2024).

He has also published essays on contemporary history in “American Purpose, New Republic, Quillette,” SAPIR, and The Washington Post.

Benny Morris was born in Israel in 1948 and grew up in Jerusalem and New York. He served in the IDF (Nahal paratroops) and did his BA at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Ph.D. in modern European history at Cambridge.

He worked as a journalist at the Jerusalem Post for 10 years and from 1997 until 2017 was a professor of Middle East history at Ben-Gurion University. In 2015-2018 taught at Georgetown University.

Among his books: “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem” 1947-1949 (Cambridge UP 1988); “Righteous Victims” (Knopf, 1999); 1948, “A History of the First Arab-Israeli War” (Yale UP, 2008); and “Sidney Reilly, Master Spy” (Yale UP, 2022). He has published articles in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, Corriere della Sera, Die Welt, etc.

This Great Neck Library program will be held on Tuesday, May 14 at 2:00 p.m. on Zoom. Registration is required. For more information, please contact Great Neck Library at (516) 466-8055 or email [email protected].

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