British Jewry, Zionism, and the Jewish State, 1936-1956

ISBN : 9780199265305

Stephan E. C. Wendehorst
440 Pages
147 x 222 mm
Pub date
Nov 2011
Oxford Historical Monographs
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Stephan E. C. Wendehorst explores the relationship between British Jewry and Zionism from 1936 to 1956, a crucial period in modern Jewish history encompassing both the shoah and the establishment of the State of Israel. He attempts to provide an answer to what, at first sight, appears to be a contradiction: the undoubted prominence of Zionism among British Jews on the one hand, and its diverse expressions, ranging from aliyah to making a donation to a Zionist fund, on the other. Wendehorst argues that the ascendancy of Zionism in British Jewry is best understood as a particularly complex, but not untypical, variant of the 19th and 20th century's trend to re-imagine communities in a national key. He examines the relationship between British Jewry and Zionism on three levels: the transnational Jewish sphere of interaction, the British Jewish community, and the place of the Jewish community in British state and society. The introduction adapts theories of nationalism so as to provide a framework of analysis for Diaspora Zionism. Chapter one addresses the question of why British Jews became Zionists, chapter two how the various quarters of British Jewry related to the Zionist project in the Middle East, chapter three Zionist nation-building in Britain and chapter four the impact of Zionism on Jewish relations with the larger society. The conclusion modifies the original argument by emphasising the impact that the specific fabric of British state and society, in particular the Empire, had on British Zionism.


Introduction: On questions, methodological approaches and sources
1. The mechanics of British Zionism
2. British Jewry and Zionist state and nation building
3. The conquest of the community: The Zionization of British Jewry
4. British Jewry, Zionism and the British polity
Conclusion: Zionism in Britain - a Jewish identity between Britishness and supplemental diaspora nationalism

About the author: 

Stephan Wendehorst was educated at the universities of Munich and Oxford. After a spell as deputy director of the Simon-Dubnow-Institute for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University, his main areas of research are now comparative imperial history, the history of the Holy Roman Empire, and the status of Jewish communities in European ecclesiastical public law. At present Stephan Wendehorst coordinates the research cluster The Jewish Holy Roman Empire - Jewish Spaces as Spaces In Between in a Polycentric Political, Legal and Social Order. He teaches early modern history at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen as well legal and modern British history at Vienna University.

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