Thurs 18 Sept 2008, 4.00-5.30 p.m., Room S3.1 (South Wing, Floor 3, Room 1

Prof. Reuven Snir, University of Haifa

'"We Are Arabs Before We Are Jews!":  The Re-Emergence of Jewish-Arab Identity and its Demise'

Abstract: The presentation deals with the historical, social and poetic aspects of the participation of Jews in modern Arab Culture, especially in Iraq and Egypt, where Jews were at home in literary standard Arabic producing literary works that quickly became part of the mainstream of modern Arabic literature. But, following the war in Palestine and the establishment of the state of Israel, many Arab-Jewish intellectuals, poets and writers emigrated to the new state. On their arrival in Israel they faced a new linguistic situation in which the Hebrew language was limited to a single religion, a single nation and a single ethnic entity - Arabic became the language of the enemy. While in Iraq, for example, Arab cultural and national identity encompassed Jews together with Muslims and Christians, in Israel Jewish identity became intermeshed with cultural and national identity. The immigrants thus faced a fierce clash between their original Arab narrative and the Jewish Zionist Western-oriented dominant narrative - the natural hybrid of a Jewish-Arab identity became contradistinct and even diametrically opposed identities. The Arab-Jewish cultural tradition that started more than fifteen hundred years ago is vanishing before our eyes following what seems to be an unspoken agreement between Zionism and Arab nationalism - each with the mutually exclusive support of a divine authority - to perform a total cleansing of Arab-Jewish culture. The two national movements have excluded the hybrid Arab-Jewish identity and highlighted instead a "pure" Jewish-Zionist identity against a "pure" Muslim-Arab one. The part of the talk, which concentrates on the last stage of Arab-Jewish culture after 1948, takes into account the Ashkenazi and western-oriented preferences of the Hebrew cultural establishment, which struggles with an inherent rejection of Arab culture. Arab Jews have discovered that they are only accepted by the Israeli cultural system when they turn away from and discard their culture of origin. Until the twentieth century, the great majority of the Jews under the rule of Islam adopted Arabic as their language; now Arabic is gradually disappearing as a language mastered by Jews.


Thurs 2 Oct 2008, 4.00-5.30 p.m., Room S1.2 (South Wing, Floor 1, Room 2) 

Dr. Lorie Charlesworth, Liverpool John Moores University
"Post 2WW 'Minor War Crimes' Trials"

Abstract: This paper will consider evidence for, and some implications of, the contingent nature of cultural legal norms as demonstrated within Occupied Germany in 1945. It considers that social, ideological and legal collision of co-existing norms between participants within the investigation and prosecution of Allied ‘minor’ war crimes trials. These individuals, all citizens of North West Europe, might be considered to share European ‘cultural’ values broadly defined; including collective ideas concerning democratic government, due legal process, impartiality, no retroactive legislation, rights of citizenship and in short those values encompassed within the descriptor; ‘the rule of law’. And yet, tragically we know this was not so. However, all parties retained their own cultural sense of lawfulness, legality and due process; Germans and their Allied occupiers failed to reconcile these positions. Subsequent developments, the Cold War, geo-politics and an independent, pro-western Democratic Germany, with its US influenced constitution a ‘new legal order’, made that earlier clash embarrassing to all parties. Germany began to come to terms with its past in the 1960s, yet its Nazi legal past remains a difficult and sensitive topic. It is within that context, how these matters stand today and their subsequent influence upon ‘official’ legal histories and modern legal theory, that this paper has its genesis. 

This paper is based upon the writer’s archival and legal research into those investigations that resulted in Allied prosecutions known as the ‘minor’ war crimes trials. It will specifically examine the historico-socio-legal background to the Belsen-Auschwitz Trial 1945 and issues flowing from that trial; the first western Allied courts-martial for war crimes in Germany, predating the IMT at Nuremberg. This trial began the public revelations of the Holocaust and how it was ‘lawfully’ carried out under Nazi rule. With that research as a framework, the paper will consider the attitudes of the British soldiers to these prosecutions and the legal culture their records and words reveal. It will contrast that with those of their prisoners and some exploration of the legal cultural ‘values’ of the Third Reich. Finally it will consider how these conflicting norms and Allied insecurities about these prosecutions, within a culture of decades of British Government secrecy, have damned them to neglect as ‘Victor’s Justice’.

Biography: Dr Lorie Charlesworth is Reader in Law and History at the Law School, Liverpool John Moores University. She is currently Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies continuing her research into the investigation and prosecution of the Allied ‘minor’ war crimes trials in Occupied Germany 1945-8. She holds degrees in Law and History and completed her PhD in 1998 at the History Department, University of Manchester, under the supervision of Professor Michael Rose. Her PhD is on the poor law and titled: ‘Salutary and Humane Law: A Legal History of the Law of Settlement and Removals c.1795-1865'. She has published many articles and chapters and delivered many papers on aspects of this topic. She is writing a monograph for Routledge-Cavendish on A Socio-Legal History of the Poor Law: Welfare's Forgotten Past due for publication in 2009.  Dr Charlesworth has also developed her historico-socio-legal archival research into the area of war crimes investigations and prosecutions. Her focus remains the human, the individual actor within the legal process. She has published a number of articles and presented many papers on various aspects of this research. These range from military history to the implications of the ‘minor’ trials for modern war crimes prosecutions and for contemporary legal theory.

Thurs 16 Oct 2008, 4.00-5.30 p.m., Room A112 (up stairs to first floor from main (North) entrance) 

Andrew Wilshere, University of Manchester 
"Emmanuel Lévinas: Towards a Political Reading"

Abstract: Liberal and libertarian political theory defends rights and duties as constitutive of justice. Justice is done when duties are fulfilled, or when the infringement of rights is punished or compensated for. But why does such an economy of justice make sense to us? This paper will first explore a key question within contemporary Anglo-American political philosophy: what constitutes the self? That is to say, why do we reason in terms of rights? And what moral assumptions do we have to make in order for this kind of reasoning to be plausible?

The Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas (1906-1995) presents us with a difficult challenge to liberal political philosophy by offering an alternative account of human freedom. Drawing on his essays "Substitution", "No Identity", "Freedom and Command", as well as his first major work, Totality and Infinity, this paper will argue that Lévinas turns liberal concepts of human freedom on their head — precisely in order to defend freedom. Lévinas' description of the ethical encounter gives us a window on "meaning prior to language", which in turn implies a shift from a libertarian to a "responsibilitarian" conception of justice.

Biography: Andrew Wilshere began study at the University of Manchester in 2002. He is now in the early stages of research for a PhD, "Rights and Responsibility: Emmanuel Levinas' Critique of Liberalism". Jointly supervised by Hillel Steiner in Politics and Alex Samely in Middle Eastern Studies, this project strives for a thoroughgoing critique of the relationship between Levinas' thought and the analytical tradition of political philosophy. Andrew also holds a BA in Religions and Theology and an MA in Middle Eastern Studies; his Masters thesis examined the role of music and liturgy in Franz Rosenzweig's "The Star of Redemption". Additionally, Andrew works as a church and classical musician, and holds the RSM diploma in Organ Performance. In January he will begin a year-long break from his studies to take up the position of Organ Scholar at St Paul's Cathedral, New Zealand.

Thurs 30 Oct 2008, 4.00-5.30 p.m., Room S1.2 (South wing, Floor 1, Room 2) 

Dr. Diana Lipton, King's College, London 
"What's in a Name? The Biblical Background of a Talmudic Martyrdom"

Abstract: The talmudic account of the martyrdom of Haninah ben Teradyon (BT AZ 17b-18a) has not, I think, been analysed in light of its striking parallels – thematic, contextual, linguistic, and structural – with Jeremiah 28-38. Both explore the right attitude towards a foreign power, and God’s part in the oppressive regime’s success. Both feature men (Haninah/Hananiah) who die following overt expressions of ‘Jewish’ identity, and both set imprisonments (Jer. 37:15; 38:6) and burning scrolls (Jer. 36:23) against the theological backdrop of transgenerational and displaced punishment. Jeremiah (32:19) is the source of one of three explicit biblical citations, Haninah’s daughter’s scriptural prooftext of divine justice, and another may allude to Jeremiah: ayn avel, Deut. 32:4b, his wife’s prooftext, can be read ayn ol; yokes feature prominently in relation to Jeremiah’s Hananiah (28:4,11,14). These parallels suggest a deeper engagement with the Bible than most discussions of rabbinic storytelling allow, and call for a new look at old questions. How obvious was the typology intended to be? (Was Haninah more than a nod towards Hananiah?) How did biblical sources contribute to the names, locations, plots, and terminology in talmudic stories? Above all, how does the Bible stand in relation to the ambiguity inherent in talmudic stories that address such complex topics as relations with Rome? A detail in the Haninah story suggests that, not surprisingly, the Bible deepens, not resolves, ambiguity. Haninah, his wife and daughter accept their punishments with biblical verses. Read out of context, all three confirm the respective punishments; in context, they question them. Haninah is punished for proclaiming the name of God, but his verse (Deut. 32:4) is preceded by one that famously commends precisely that (v.3). His daughter accepts her punishment with a verse (Jer. 32:19) preceded by a statement of transgenerational punishment (v.18) that Jeremiah has just emphatically rejected (31:29-30). Depending on how ‘thickly’ the Bible is read, the prooftexts variously support God, challenge God, reconfirm through typology God’s presence in history, and highlight the political lessons of the past without particular reference to God. The aggadata’s broader use of Jeremiah accomplishes all this and perhaps more. Eusebius (Martyrs of Palestine, ‘Confession of Paulus’) depicts contrite Jews watching devout Egyptian Christian martyrs, whose children are named after Hebrew prophets (Jeremiah), and whose acts correspond to their names. Is Haninah named for a Hebrew prophet who was indeed a model for Christian martyrs, but is condemned by God as a model for Jews? And does AZ 17-18 offer Jeremiah as a paradigm for ‘internalising’ Torah (Jer. 31:33-34) without burning scrolls (36:32)?

Biography: Diana Lipton's chequered career includes an English degree at Oxford, investment banking, full-time motherhood, and a Cambridge PhD on dreams in Genesis. In 2007, she left a Fellowship at Newnham College, Cambridge for a Lectureship in Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at King's College London. Her approach to the Bible reflects her background in Literature, a passion for rabbinic texts, and insights gleaned from the many students she has been privileged to teach. Her most recent book is Longing for Egypt and Other Unexpected Bibical Tales (Sheffield Phoenix Press, August 2008).

Thurs 13 Nov 2008, 4.00-5.30 p.m., Room S1.2 (South wing, Floor 1, Room 2) 
Ms. Susan Fox
"The origins of Francophone-Jewish Literature of the Maghreb"

Abstract: A dynamic interplay of diverse cultural traditions, the essence of Jewish Maghrebi literature lies in its diversity. Jewish communities lived within other societies, retaining their cultural and religious traditions, but at the same time, co-existing peacefully these people, whether they were Punic, Berber and to a certain extent, Arabic, sharing linguistic ties and some similar customs and traditions. Communal cohesion and external pressures of intermittent discrimination and persecution, particularly during the period of Islamic domination of the Maghreb, reinforced a strong cultural Jewish identity.
Jewish culture arrived in the Maghreb from Judea (Palestine) and Phoenicia about 586BCE and was interwoven with Punic and Berber tradition and later by Arabic culture. Italian Jews and Sephardi refugees from Portugal and Spain in the 14th.century and French Jews in the19th.century brought powerful cultural influences.
Linguistic influences on Maghrebi Jewish culture were Sabir (an amalgamation of Italian, Provençal and Spanish), Berber dialects, Arabic, Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) and French. The Maghrebi Jews, particularly after the influx of the Sephardim, made significant contributions to the cultural advancement of Judaism and Jewish culture, with intellectual life thriving in Fez, Tlemcen and Kairouan. The Sephardim enriched the native Jewish life, introducing Jewish thought of a European orientation, bringing about a resurgence of Jewish scholarship and also introducing a theatrical tradition, attributable to their links to Jews in Italy and the Netherlands.
During the 19th. century, the French invasion of Algeria, the establishment of the protectorates in Morocco and Tunisia, combined with the cultural and educational activities of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, gave a fresh impetus to Jewish cultural life in the Maghreb.

Biography: B.A. in French and German with Linguistics and M.A. in Literature and History of Ideas, the speaker has completed her Ph.D research so far on part-time basis whilst following a teaching career, currently as sixth-form college lecturer in French and French Literature. Susan has worked as a teacher in Burkina Faso (whilst on VSO) and Israel and travelled extensively in the Maghreb. Publications are as follows:-.40 subject entries in The Essential Glossary - Francophone Studies(Arnold 2002).‘Discourse on Jewish identity in La statue de sel by Albert Memmi’ (the Journal of Comparative Literature, autumn 2003). 18 subject entries (French & German Jewish notables) in The Compendium of Modern Jewish Culture - Editor Glenda Abramson (Hodder 2004). ‘Differing aims for Algerian Independence as seen through the novels of Albert Bensoussan and Mohammed Dib – the end of Jewish-Muslim ‘convivence’ (Harmattan 2006), translated into French. This is a compilation of papers given at a conference at the University of Lancaster to mark the 40th. Anniversary of Algeria’s independence in August 2000.

Thurs 27 Nov 2008, 4.00-5.30 p.m., Room S1.2 (South wing, Floor 1, Room 2) 

Prof. Liliane Weissberg, University of Pennsylvania 
"Hannah Arendt, Charlie Chaplin, and the Hidden Jewish Tradition"

Abstract: In her essay of 1944, "The Jew as Pariah: The Hidden Tradition," Hannah Arendt explores an alternative writing of Jewish literary history.  This new narrative would stress the work of Jews who have written in languages other than Hebrew or Yiddish, and taken pride in their outsider or pariah existence.  Arendt praises the work of Heinrich Heine and of Franz Kafka, but among the figures of this new Jewish pantheon of writers, Charlie Chaplin appears as well.  How does Arendt view his movies, and what does she see in his work? Why is Chaplin included in this list?  My paper will try to answer these questions, and discuss the figure of Chaplin in Arendt's work and the reception of his time.

Biography: Weissberg's interests focus on late eighteenth-century to early twentieth-century German literature and philosophy. Much of her work has concentrated on German, European, and American Romanticism, but she has also written on the notion of representation in realism, on photography, and on literary and feminist theory. Her most recent books are a critical edition of Hannah Arendt's Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess (1997), which has received much attention, and the anthologies, Cultural Memory and the Construction of Identity (with Dan Ben-Amos, 1999) and Romancing the Shadow: Poe and Race (with J. Gerald Kennedy, 2001).  She has just completed a new book manuscript entitled “Approaching Gentility: German-Jewish Autobiography and the Quest for Acculturation," and is the co-editor, with Karen Beckman, of "Picture This!" an anthology on the relationship of photography and text.

Thurs 11 Dec 2008, 4.00-5.30 p.m., Room S1.2 (South wing, Floor 1, Room 2) 
Dr. Rocco Bernasconi, University of Manchester 
"Literary features of two parallel tractates of Mishnah and Tosefta" (provisional title)

Abstract: The literary characteristics of a number of mishnaic and toseftean tractates will be analysed applying the analytical model that has been elaborated within the research project Typology of Anonymous and Pseudepigraphic Jewish Literature in Antiquity, c. 200 BCE to c. 700 CE led by Professor Alex Samely. The paper will discuss the main results of that analysis and point out what the study of the literary structures of parallel tractates in Mishnah and Tosefta tell us about their mutual relations.

Biography: Rocco Bernasconi is an AHRC Research Associate for the project on the "Typology of Pseudepigraphic and Anonymous Jewish Literature c.200 BCE to 700 CE.”.  He graduated from Bologna with a dissertation on Jewish Theological Responses to the Shoah, then took an MA in Jewish Studies in Manchester (with distinction), writing a dissertation on Reasons for Norms in Mishnaic Discourse(published in Melilah and downloadable from His PhD thesis in Bologna and Paris–Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Sorbonne) was on Amei ha-aretz and Kutim in the Discourse of Mishnah and Tosefta. He has worked as a post-doctoral researcher for the University of Bologna. His research interests include the formative age of Rabbinic Judaism and the literary structures of Rabbinic literature. He has published several reviews in the Revue des Etudes Juives.



Thurs 5 Feb 2009 , 4.00-5.30 p.m., Room A115 (up stairs to first floor from main (North) entrance) 
Mehri Niknam, The Joseph Interfaith Foundation 
"Jewish-Muslim Interfaith Dialogue: Comparative Current UK and US Views"

Abstract: Britain prides itself on having the best interfaith relations in Europe. As someone who has been professionally involved in Jewish-Muslim dialogue for two decades, I have seen how this relationship has developed in England. My Fulbright project was a short survey in Jewish-Muslim dialogue in the US. My talk will concentrate on my meetings and discussions with the religious leaders, academics and students of both faiths in the US. How do they perceive, understand and approach this interfaith relation? How does their approach compares with the outlook and approach in Britain? What lessons, if any, can we learn from it?

Biography: Mehri Niknam is the Executive Director of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation and a consultant in Jewish-Muslim relations. Her academic field is comparative Judaism and Islam in medieval period.

In 2005, she received the MBE for her contributions to Jewish-Muslim relations. In the same year she was made Honorary Fellow at Leo Baeck College for her achievements in Jewish-Muslim interfaith relations. She is a member of the Imams and Rabbis Committee and The Roundtable of Academics and Theologians, two governmental interfaith think tanks at the Department of Communities in the UK. In 2008 she was a Fulbright scholar in Interfaith and Community Action.

Having been born and brought up as a highly acculturated Jew in pre-revolution Iran, which gives her a unique sensitivity towards Islam and Muslims, he describes herself as an Islamophile Jew.

Thurs 19 Feb 2009, 4.00-5.30 p.m., Room A115 (up stairs to first floor from main (North) entrance) 
Prof. Christian Wiese, University of Sussex 
"Jewish Interpretations of Martin Luther from the Enlightenment to the Holocaust: A Tragic Love "

Abstract: The paper addresses major elements of the multi-faceted Jewish reception of Luther's theology and thinking in Jewish historiography and philosophy during the 19th and 20th centuries. A portion is devoted to Ludwig Börne and Heinrich Heine, who - both in exile in Paris - arrived at differing conclusions about the reformer: while Börne made him responsible for the German "servile spirit", Heine praised Luther as the forerunner of the modern spirit of freedom of conscience and democracy.
One of the most interesting phenomena of the 19th century, however, is the fact that most of the Jewish scholars, including Saul Ascher, Samuel Hirsch, Abraham Geiger, Hermann Cohen and many others, embraced the dominating trend of German non-Jewish intellectuals interpreting Luther as the towering figure of German history and the pre-runner of Enlightenment and political liberalism. Furthermore, the paper addresses
- in the mirror of Jewish perceptions - the topic of Luther's infamous anti-Jewish writings. Only at the beginning of the 20th century, when modern anti-Semitism started to emphasize Luther's anti-Jewish attitude and exploit his views in order to disseminate its racial hatred, Jewish historiography began to address this question: Jewish scholars used a strategy that eventually turned out to be a tragic endeavour to defend Luther against anti-Semites and conservative theologians who tended to use his anti-Jewish writings to legitimize their own anti-Semitic views.
Even in 1933, when the overwhelming majority of German Protestantism embraced an anti-Semitic interpretation of Luther's legacy, we find Jewish voices that countered these views by emphasizing Heine's or Hermann Cohen's interpretation of the "young Luther". This was a tragic attempt, full of dignity, to invoke a liberal tradition that had clearly lost the force to convince German society to treat its Jewish citizens with respect or at least some kind of human decency.

Biography: Christian Wiese is Professor of Jewish History and Director of the Centre for German-Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex. Before coming to the UK, he held posts at Erfurt University, McGill University, Montreal, Dartmouth College, N.H. and Trinity College, Dublin. His research focuses on Modern European-Jewish History and Thought as well as the history of antisemitism and Jewish-Christian relations. His publications include "Challenging Colonial Discourse: Jewish Studies and Protestant Theology in Wilhelmine Germany" (Leiden: Brill, 2005)and "The Life and Thought of Hans Jonas: Jewish Dimensions" (Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2007). He is currently preparing an intellectual biography of Robert Weltsch, the editor of the Zionist "Jüdische Rundschau" in Weimar and Nazi Germany.

Thurs 5 Mar 2009, 4.00-5.30 p.m., Room A114 (up stairs to first floor from main (North) entrance) 

Dr. Raffaella Del Sarto, University of Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies 
"Israel: Divided Societies and Peace-Making"

Abstract: The presentation analyses the relationship between Israel’s societal fragmentation and domestic politics on the one hand and its policies towards peace-making on the other. Traditionally, the domestic fragmentation—which basically revolves around questions of Israel’s identity—put a strain on the capacity of Israeli governments to engage constantly in regional peace-making. Against the background of the recent elections in Israel (February 2009), the presentation will asses whether this assessment is still valid.

Biography: Raffaella Del Sarto is the Pears-Rich Fellow in Israel Studies at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies and the Middle East Centre of St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. Dr Del Sarto holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2003). She is the author of Contested State Identities and Regional Security in the Euro-Mediterranean Area (2006), the co-editor of The Convergence of Civilizations: Constructing a Mediterranean Region (2006), and she has also published on Israel’s domestic politics as well as EU-Israeli relations. Her current research project focuses on International Relations Theory and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from Oslo to the second Intifada.

Thurs 19 Mar 2009, 4.00-5.30 p.m., Room A115 (up stairs to first floor from main (North) entrance) 

Prof. Efraim Sicher , Ben Gurion University 
"Antisemitism, Multiculturalism, Globalization: The British Case"

Abstract: While much has been said about anti-Zionism and the "New Anti-Semitism", little attention has been paid to how the dynamics of multiculturalism and globalization affect perception of Jews and their relations with Muslim communities. With the launch of Professor Sicher's new publication on the topic, the time has come to look at the narrative of the "jew" withn the context of race discourse.

Biography: Professor Efraim Sicher teaches English and comparative literature at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel. He has published widely on modern Jewish culture and representation of the image of the Jew. His most recent books are Rereading Dickens / Rereading the City (2003) and The Holocaust Novel (2005), and (as editor) The Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 299: Holocaust Novelists (2004) and Kol kitvei Isak Babel (The Complete Works of Isaak Babel, in Hebrew, 2008).

Thurs 23 April 2009, 4.00-5.30 p.m., Room A115 (up stairs to first floor from main (North) entrance)
Nechama Hadari, University of Manchester
"The Will of the Husband and its Role in the Problem of the Chained Wife"

Abstract: In this paper, I explore the development of different understandings of will in rabbinic thought, comparing these rabbinic understandings to various philosophical and legal conceptions, both historical and contemporary. I propose an understanding which makes sense of much of the halakhic literature and puts in perspective the Mishnaic demand that a man divorce his wife “willingly”. I then analyse various proposals to remedy the problem of mesurevot get (women whose husbands refuse to give them a legally-valid Jewish bill of divorce) in the light of this understanding – and may even make a proposal of my own!

Biography: Nechama Hadari is in the process of submitting her PhD thesis in the context of the Agunah Research Unit in the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester. She holds a B.A. degree in English Literature from Leeds, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology from Oxford and studied Rabbinics at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. She is married (with no intention to divorce) with three small children.

Thurs 7 May 2009, 4.00-5.30 p.m., Room A115 (up stairs to first floor from main (North) entrance) 
Prof. Colin Shindler, SOAS 
"The Origins of Anti-Zionism on the British Left: Zionism, Anti-Imperialism and Decolonisation"

Abstract: The delegitimisation of Israel and the questioning of the right of the Jews to national self-determination by sections of the British Left since the collapse of the Oslo peace process are often regarded as symptomatic of ‘the new anti-Semitism’. This paper argues that such views are far more complex, have a history and examines their origin in the British Left’s embrace of anti-imperialism and decolonisation.
The combination of anti-Jewish stereotyping within an anti-imperialist discourse arose in the late nineteenth century when liberals such as Goldwyn Smith and J.A. Hobson as well as socialists as H.M. Hyndman associated British imperialism with Jewish conspiracy and Victorian capitalism.

Following the October Revolution, a lack of real knowledge of Palestine by the Bolshevik leadership, the campaign of the Yevsektsia against Zionism and the anti-imperialism of the Comintern all influenced the embryonic Communist Party of Great Britain. Its central ideologist, Rajani Palme Dutt, in particular, was a passionate opponent of British imperialism and advocate of Indian independence as well as an obedient propagator and rationaliser of every twist and turn in Soviet policy. 

This paper also examines the Soviet policy of the Arabisation of the Palestine Communist Party and its gradual exclusion of its Jewish members. In the context of anti-colonialism, it examines both Communist and Trotskyist attitudes to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and its support for the explanation of the conflict as one of rival imperialisms.

Biography: Colin Shindler is Professor of Israeli Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and chair of its Centre for Jewish Studies. He is the author of six books and numerous papers.

His ‘History of Modern Israel’ was published by Cambridge University Press last year. In 2007, Granta published ‘What Do Zionists Believe?’ In 2009, his ‘The Triumph of Military Zionism: Nationalism and the Origins of the Israeli Right’ will be published in an updated paperback version. This examined the relationship between Vladimir Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin and questioned whether the latter was truly the former’s disciple. In January 2009, the journal ‘Middle East Studies’ published his review article of Anita Shapira’s biography of Yigal Allon. His essay on the centenary of Tel Aviv was recently published in the Jewish Year Book 2009.


Mon 18 May 2009, 4.00-5.30 p.m., Room A202 (up stairs to second floor from main (North) entrance) 

Father Patrick Desbois, French Catholic Church spokesman on relations with the Jews "Holocaust by bullets. A quest for memory in Ukraine"


Biography: Father Patrick Desbois holds a Master Thesis in Religious History from the University of Lyon 2. He has studied Hebrew in Jerusalem and was the Secretary of the Episcopal Committee of French Bishops for Relations with Judaism. He currently is the Director of the National Service of French Bishops for Relations with Judaism and was an Adviser to the Commission of Holy See for Religious Relations with Judaism. In these functions, he has organized numerous meetings between Jewish and Catholic scholars, rabbis and priests, and notably meetings between French Bishops and leading Yeshivas Authorities in New York.Since January 2004, Father Desbois is the head of Yahad - In Unum, a body set up under the initiative of the Archbishop of Paris Jean-Marie Lustiger, Archbishop of Lyon Philippe Barbarin and Israel Singer, President of the WJC directory. The aim of Yahad - In Unum is to emphasize Catholic-Jewish relations. In this context, he organises research journeys to Ukraine, to locate and study mass graves of Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen. The mobile killing units of the Nazis massacred up to 1,5 million Jews all over Eastern Europe. In the cities and the most remote villages, PatrickDesbois and his team record the testimonies of the last witnesses, locate the graves and take measures. Sometimes, the graves are opened. Researchers of the team compare the findings on the ground with historical documents and post-War testimonies. Over 500 such plots have been already found and studied and the journeys are being now expanded to Belarus. To describe this part of the Shoah in the East, that did not penetrate the Western memory of the Holocaust,Desbois crafted the term “the Holocaust of Bullets”. This massive undertaking, that has already attracted media attention in Europe, the United States and Israel, is an initiative in the field of historical research, but also in the policy of remembrance and in the Jewish-Christian relations. Driven by his faith and a feeling of necessity,Father Desbois also travels to tell his experience and to give the first results of his field trips. He has authored a book on his life and his relations to Judaism, translated into English : " Holocaust by bullets " (Palgrave Macmillan, August 2008).