Fifty Shades of Zionism: Iranian Jews and Israel

CGS Brown Bag Lecture Series
Sep 14, 2016
12:15 PM to 01:15 PM
463 Burrowes

Dr. Lior Sternfeld, Penn State

As the Jewish national movement, Zionism aspired to speak for Jews worldwide. It aimed to gather Jews from every corner of earth to establish a national home for the Jews. The dominant wing of Zionism, fashioned after similar contemporary European movements, and admittedly sought to establish a European outpost in the levant that will secure the Jewish future and allow them to become fully European. After the Holocaust the need for a Jewish homeland became more urgent and indeed a mass immigration started to Mandatory Palestine and then after May 1948, to Israel. About a million Jews from the Arab world came to Israel under different circumstances, however the Jews of Iran overwhelmingly chose to stay in their country, despite the fact that the Zionist movement could operate openly in Iran and Zionism increasingly became growing component of the Iranian-Jewish identity complex. This talk will analyze the role and place of Zionism in the Iranian-Jewish society, political activism, and ideologies.

Lior Sternfeld is a social historian of the modern Middle East with particular interests in Jewish (and other minorities’) histories of the region. He is currently completing his first book manuscript tentatively titled: “Integrated After All: Iranian Jews in the Twentieth Century,” which examines the integration of the Jewish communities in Iran into the nation-building projects of the twentieth century. This book examines the development of the Iranian Jewish communities vis-à-vis ideologies and institutions such as Iranian nationalism, Zionism, and constitutionalism, among others. Dr. Sternfeld’s current research project examines the origins of “third-worldism” in the Middle East.  His teaching interests include histories of modern Iranian and the Middle East, Jewish histories of the Middle East, and social movements in the Middle East and beyond.

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