Research Seminar Programme 2015-16



As was the case in 2012, 2013 and 2014 the Centre's seminar programme has an Israel Studies theme. Please note that the seminars will take place in the second semester on Thursdays at 4pm in room A102 in Samuel Alexander Building (Building 67 on the Campus Map, see directions). Our seminar programme is open to all (for free) and there is no need to book, but please see the statement below on University events open to the public.

Thu 18 Feb 2016. Roman Vater (Oxford), National alternatives to Zionism: the case of the Young Hebrews, 1939-1976.

Abstract: This presentation will explore a particular aspect of a home-grown opposition to Zionism among Hebrew Israelis. With the consolidation of a separate national identity in the pre-state Yishuv (a process whose pinnacle can be dated to the 1930s-1940s), an attitude of denigration and even rejection of Zionism became relatively widespread among the Hebrews. The most radical and articulate ideology that offered a complete national alternative to Zionism in the name of an indigenous Hebrew nationalism was the Young Hebrews’ ideology, popularly known as “Canaanism”. The talk will present the main tenets and principles of Hebrew “Canaanite” nationalism in relation both to Zionism and Arab nationalism. It will explore in particular the historiographic base of “Canaanism”, arguing that divergence in the vision of the past between “Canaanism” and Zionism (as well as Pan-Arabism) is the key element that permits us to perceive the principal incompatibility between Jewish and Hebrew nationalism in the political sphere.

Thu 3 March 2016. Alan Craig (Leeds), EU-Israel relations: Sanctions by any other name? 

Abstract: EU-Israel relations are often defined in terms of BDS and European anti-Semitism. This presentation examines EU-Israel relations through a lens of Economic Statecraft to reveal a surprisingly positive picture.

Thu 17 March 2016. Nir Arielli (Leeds), Israel's international 'Machal' volunteers in the war of 1948: a comparative assessment of their contribution

Abstract: The literature on foreign, or 'transnational', war volunteering has focused overwhelmingly on the motivations and experiences of the volunteers. This approach has largely overlooked other aspects of the phenomenon such as the military and political use that host states derived from foreign fighters. The paper focuses on the international 'Machal' volunteers who served in the Israeli armed forces in the war of 1948-49. It assesses the relative importance of these volunteers by comparing their military contribution to the Israeli war effort to that of transnational volunteers who fought in other twentieth-century conflicts.

Thu 14 April 2016. Dominique Bourel (CNRS, Paris), From Kassa to Manchester and forward: Alexander Altmann and the Mendelssohn Forschung

Abstract: Alexander Altmann (1906-87) was an Orthodox Jewish scholar and rabbi born in Kassa, Austria-Hungary. He emigrated to England in 1938 and in Manchester established the Institute for Jewish Studies. Later, in the United States, he became a professor within the Philosophy Department at Brandeis University. He is best known for his studies on the thought of Moses Mendelssohn and this lecture will offer a presentation of Altmann’s life and discuss some of his works on Mendelssohn.

Thu 21 April 2016. Yohai Hakak (Brunel), Forbidden Love and Moral Panic: Jewish-Arab Couples in Contemporary Israel

Abstract: Demography has been broadly considered as a key aspect of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. On the Jewish side, State intervention to encourage Jewish immigration and Jewish births is well known. Much less known are the efforts to discourage inter-faith relations. These ‘problematic relationships’ between Arab men and Jewish women from low socio-economic backgrounds have become a high priority item in public discussions over the last decade. In this lecture I will explore the main discursive practices used in this heated debate by those opposing these relationships. ‘Moral panic’ as a theoretical framework will help me analyse the ways in which Jewish women and Arab men who engage in such relations are presented. As I will show, attempts to criminalize and vilify Arab men meet with strong opposition. Presenting Jewish women as weak and passive victims seems as a more successful strategy, especially when done by professionals from the psych-professions.

CANCELLED Mon 2 May 2016. David Novak (Toronto), Can Israel Be a Democratic Theocracy or a Theocratic Democracy? 4pm, A112 in Samuel Alexander Building 



Thu 1 Oct 2015. George Brooke (Manchester), Aspects of Prophecy in the Dead Sea Scrolls. 2pm in Samuel Alexander Building A101 (Ehrhardt Seminar, CBS)

Tue 6 Oct 2015. Lauren Banko (Manchester), Fixed borders and flexible nationality: movement, transgression, and subversion of Palestinians in the Interwar Levant. 5pm in Simon Building LEC RM3 (3.40) (MES research seminar)

Tue 13 Oct 2015. Katharina Keim (Manchester), Moses Gaster and the Samaritan Book of Joshua controversy. 4pm in Christie Room, John Rylands Library on Deansgate. (JRRI research seminar).

Mon 19 Oct 2015. Maurice Roumani (Ben Gurion University of the Negev), Libyan Jews: From Co-existence to Exodus. 5pm in Simon Building LEC RM3 (3.40) (MES research seminar)

Thu 29 Oct 2015. Katharina Keim (Manchester), Joshua in the Samaritan Traditions in the Gaster Collection. 2pm in Samuel Alexander Building A101 (Ehrhardt Seminar, CBS)

Tue 3 Nov 2015. Stefania Silvestri (Manchester), From Gibraltar to Calcutta: The Ketubbot from the John Rylands Library, and Miruna Belea (PostgraduatE on MA Bibilical Studies), Gaster Collection Amulet 1771- text and tradition. 12pm in Christie Room, John Rylands Library on Deansgate (JRRI research forum)

Wed 11 Nov 2015. Screening of 'My Nazi Legacy' followed by a Q&A panel, including Jean-Marc Dreyfus and the film's director. 6.20pm at HOME, Manchester. (CJS Screen & Talk)

Thu 19 Nov 2015. Esther Gomez Sierra (Manchester), A Unique Time: Converso Intellectuals in XV Century Spain. 4pm in Samuel Alexander Building A113. (R&T research seminar)

Thu 19 Nov 2015. Stefania Silvestri (Manchester), The Medieval Hebrew Bible from Sepharad: Production and Patronage. 2pm in Samuel Alexander Building A101 (Ehrhardt Seminar, CBS)

Tue 8 Dec 2015. Stefania Silvestri (Manchester), The John Rylands Hebrew Manuscripts (and Other Texts) Collections. 4pm in Christie Room, John Rylands Library on Deansgate. (JRRI research seminar)

Thu 10 Dec 2015. Mat Collins (Chester), Abandoning the Quest for the Historical Teacher: History and Ideology in the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls. 2pm in Samuel Alexander Building A101 (Ehrhardt Seminar, CBS)

Tues 1 March 2016. Dan Levene (Southampton), Prayers that Loosen charms, Ethiopian Magic Scrolls (JRRI research seminar)

Thu 10 March 2016. Dalit Rom-Shiloni (Tel Aviv), Hebrew Bible Theology: A Jewish Descriptive Approach. 2pm in Simon Building Lecture Theatre D (Ehrhardt Seminar, CBS)

Wed 20 April 2016. Alex Samely (Manchester), Levinas and the Disruption of Knowing. 3-5pm in A112 Samuel Alexander Building (CIDRAL Theory Intensive seminar for postgraduates and staff).

Tue 26 April 2016. Moshe Behar (Manchester), Competing Marxisms on the Normalisation of Palestine/Israel: How relevant are the pre-1974 analyses of Matzpen and the PFLP to the 21st century? 5pm, Roscoe 3.5 (AMES research seminar)

Tue 3 May 2016 David Feldman (London), Thinking about Jews: from antisemitism to racialization. 1pm in Room 2.05 Williamson Building (CoDE Seminar). NOTE: Please contact if you wish to attend. Note change of date and venue (26 April 2016).

Thu 5 May 2016. Eva Frojmovic (Leeds), Imagining the Self in the Illuminated Passover Haggadah Manuscripts of Fourteenth-century Aragon. 5.15pm in the Christie Room, John Rylands Library (JRRI research seminar).

CANCELLED 25 May 2016. Freddie Rokem (Tel Aviv University): Reading Kafka/Staging Kafka. 5-7pm, John Thaw Studio Theatre, Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama (CIDRAL public lecture)

Mon 27 - Wed 29 June 2016. JRRI conference: The Other Within, John Rylands Library

Tue 28 June 2016. Sarit Shalev-Eyni (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), New Light from Manchester on Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts: The John Rylands Collection and its Significance. 6-7pm, John Rylands Library



The critical exchange of academic ideas, interpretations, and arguments must flow freely on any topic. University seminar papers are one of several proper settings for the critical scrutiny of all academic arguments. To provide the setting for such academic exchange is one of the core duties of Universities. Speakers are invited because their work has demonstrated significant research quality or achieved research impact, and the scrutiny does not proceed by pre-judging/judging the personal motivations of speakers. It proceeds by exposing the claims of seminar speakers to critical and evidence-based responses, both in the longer term and on the day. The speakers’ positions as well as the scrutiny and responses they receive from others in the field become part of the ongoing review of new claims that characterises all University subjects. This always takes time, but it is the ultimate source of all informed discussion which takes place outside the University as well. Thus a seminar series fulfils a vital function in the exchange and critical scrutiny of ideas, data, interpretations and evidence. Please see the University's Statement on Academic Freedom.


Archive: Previous CJS Research Seminars